When Jesus says “No.”

You know how people say that God answers prayers with three answers: yes, no and wait? I think that saying is dumb. God’s not like a Magic 8 ball with only a few generic responses. I think sometimes in my life God has answered my prayers with “LOL OK if you really want it…..” which is neither yes, no or wait. Sometimes I think he answers prayers with complete silence, which isn’t “wait.” I understand the heart behind limiting God’s answers to our prayers, but I don’t agree with it.

The past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind, and not just for me.

One Saturday morning I woke up with a heavy heart. I was attending the worst kind of funeral and praying for one of my lifelong friends and another one of my best friends brothers. There was a lot on my heart, and I got frustrated because I sometimes feel like God isn’t actually doing anything in the lives of people around me – do you ever feel like that? Like your prayer request list is long and your praise list is full of who God is, or ways you’ve seen him work in the past, but nothing you’ve been praying for seems to turn into a praise?

I got to thinking about when Christ was on earth. One of my favorite blog posts is called When Christ Wasn’t There, and I think about that lesson often – what Jesus teaches us when he seems to be staying away from our hurt. But sometimes Jesus walks straight into our hurt, like the time Jesus was going into the town of Nain and as he was walking in, a funeral procession was walking out. A widow had lost her only son.

Jesus saw her and his heart went out to her and he told her not to cry. Then he brought the dead son back to life and gave him back to his mom. We read that in Luke 7:11-16. It’s a really beautiful story. Especially for that woman and her son and everyone in the presence of that miracle.

idk

…but what about all of the funerals Jesus DIDN’T interrupt? What about those widows, those mourners? What about the parents whose child Jesus DIDN’T heal, or the blind man who never saw?

 

There’s a weird peace in that. You know.. it’s just Jesus doing his Jesus thing and healing some and not others. Not because one is better, one is favored, one is more loved or important… but because Jesus just does what Jesus does and that rarely actually makes sense to people. Like seriously, if I was God’s PR person I’d be requesting a meeting to discuss what appears to be the series of poor PR decisions he’s made in the lives of those I love recently.

but I am not God’s PR person. I’m not called to strategize and evaluate the decisions of God. I think if anything I’m called to just stand there in the face of all the crap of life,  wrap my arms around the people I love, weep and say “I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.”

and there we have it. One more thing not required of me – to know. I don’t think I want to know, because I think the burden of that knowledge is far too heavy for my puny little human heart, my limited human mind, to bear. Adults often spare children the hard stuff of life; we soften all the D words – divorce, disease, death… and we let them glimpse the reality of grief, but we spare them the full weight of it. and maybe that’s what God does for us. Maybe he spares us the weight of why babies die and why changing your Facebook profile picture to say “PRAY FOR THIS PERSON,” doesn’t necessarily spring Him into action.

I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.

I keep trying to tell God what would really make him look good to nonbelievers – healing, restoration, healthy babies, financial favor…. and God continues to interrupt some funerals and not others, to heal some lepers and not others, to bring eyesight to some but not all. I don’t know why, but realizing that this isn’t some new pattern of behavior for Jesus has helped me have some sort of peace. God’s will be done, and I doubt I’ll ever understand it on this side of Heaven.

I don’t know, man.

I just don’t know.