Saturday, October 8, 2011

Questions on hope, disappointment and the power of prayer

What do the "Lead Me to the Cross" lyrics that we sang on Sunday and the "Carry your cross" verses mean?  They do not mean hope for self-fulfillment.  They do not mean "I feel subconsciously entitled to have my American dream met."  Or even "I desire a husband and expect to have a healthy family w/ as many children as I want, all of whom will outlive me."  So should we not pray for such things?  Is it wrong to hope for them?  Is it wrong to be disappointed when we don't receive them?  Is it wrong to be angry at God when we are disappointed by the loss or lack of them?

If we hope for anything, we risk disappointment.  If it is wrong to be disappointed, then it is wrong to hope.  Well, I don't think it is wrong to feel disappointment.  So I cannot deduce that it is wrong to hope, but I do think we should think twice before we expect anything from the Lord.  Job said, "Should we accept good from the Lord and not trouble?"  No doubt he felt disappointment and even anger, but neither caused his faith to falter.  More over, Paul says, "We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials... for [it] strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment."  My great hope is in the grace that Jesus' sacrifice gives me for free (even though I do not deserve it.)  But can I rightly hope also for peace, companionship and safety?  I do hope that my son is born healthy with a strong heart, vision, hearing, mental capacity and no allergies. In Scripture, God does not rebuke Abraham for hoping for a son; He answers Hannah's prayer when she pleads for a son: He listens but does not grant David's prayer to save from death his first born son to Bathsheba.  Habakuk is disappointed but at the same time, finds contentment despite his hopes not being met.  Paul calls us to contentment regardless of circumstances.  I suppose contentment does not equal the absence of hope for more.  I suppose that whether or not our hopes are disappointed depends on our deep-rooted perspective.  Do we view life as for us or for God?  If we view it as being for ourselves, when our hopes are not realized, we will be heart-broken and think that we have been wronged by God.  If we view life as being for God, when our hopes are not realized, we will be less tempted to be cynical and will not think God wronged us.

So I have answered myself these questions: Yes, I can hope; Yes, I can pray for what I hope for; Yes, I can be disappointed when I do not receive it; No, I should not let disappointment rule my faith in God.  My friend, Laura, wrote about the root of cynicism (cynicism springs from disappointment) as being "1) pride from thinking we can judge situations as we see them, rather than trusting in the unseen and 2) pride from thinking "the world is just bad" and not remembering that we are bad too, only saved by grace."  Do we presume to understand the mind of God?  Humbling, is it not?  We often pray for what we hope for.  I have observed that we do not always receive what we pray for.  So where is the power of prayer?   Absolutely, there is no power in selfish prayer, but not all unanswered prayers were selfish ones.  I understand that there is God's will and there is free will.  Raw free will seldom aligns with God's will.  I know that God is in control.  He can take full control but only chooses to control to an extent because He has given us free will.  We are all wicked, unfortunately.  Wickedness + free will = a very imperfect world that could plant in us disappointment if we let it. So when I am disappointed, I am hit with the question of "Did God, in his power, choose to do (or not do) this?  Or did God's choice to let free will be exercised by myself and others do this?"  I'd like to explore this more, but I am not ready and this post is too long, so that will be a question for another time.  Feel free to comment. 


Heather Paige said...
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Heather Paige said...

I've been reading the book, Radical, by David Platt. It leads me to question the legitimacy of my asking these questions to begin with.