when the miracle doesn’t happen…
Last blog, I talked about a few of the miracles my family has gotten to witness this summer. If you didn’t catch that post, click here. I’m so thankful for the amazing privilege it has been to see God’s hand move and answer prayers. God is truly a God of miracles.
But that’s not all he is. He is so.much.more. He is the One True King, the Most High, The Lord of Lords, our Savior. He is Majestic, All-Powerful and Good. He holds all things in his hands and he alone determines the course of our lives. Proverbs 16:9 says that we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
So he is God when miracles happen, but he is also God when miracles don’t happen. He is still good and majestic and all that we need; even when life doesn’t go the way we want it to. When life is hard. Painful. A struggle. Defeating.
Or when we are asked to sacrifice. Suffer. Be humiliated. Forgive. Lose.
He is STILL a good God. And His plan is best. I want to make sure that I don’t just talk about the glorious miracles in my life and leave out the other side of the coin. Because so many times, the miracles don’t happen.
What happens then?
What does faith look like when the answer is no?
It’s easy to have faith when it’s about the miracles, but it’s harder to have faith when the answer is hardship, or sacrifice, or loss.
There is a perfect example of this in John 6. Jesus performs a pretty amazing miracle: he turns five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food for over 5,000 people. The people were amazed because they had been waiting for the Messiah to come and save them, a king to reign that would take care of them. They wanted more of him. More of his miracles, to be exact. But by the end of the chapter, almost all of them has left him. Why? Because they wanted the miracles of Jesus, but they didn’t want to have the kind of faith that following Jesus required.
They wanted a king, not a humble man who came to die on a cross.
They wanted glory, not hardship.
They wanted satisfaction, not sacrifice, suffering or serving.
They wanted miracles, not the Jesus behind the miracles.
Jesus made it clear that true faith isn’t expecting God to satisfy our agenda, it’s laying down our plan and trading it for God’s agenda. It’s being willing to sacrifice, suffer and serve others in order to demonstrate God’s love if that’s what he asks us to do. The crowd did not want that.
Neither did I.
Before I fell flat on my face, I wanted the glory of Jesus. I loved it. I believed in his miracles and I loved his provision. I sang on stage about his power and might because life was good. I thought that since God was good, he would continue to answer all of my prayers and my life would be great.
But then, my prayers didn’t get answered. And my life got even harder. And I felt alone for years. And I got angry… at God. I thought that he should hear my cries and answer them. Because deep down, I believed a lie that faith meant having the miraculous power of Jesus at my disposal. So when I didn’t get what I wanted, I rebelled. It’s so embarrassing to admit that now. I had SO MUCH PRIDE that I got angry at the God of the Universe because I thought I knew better than he did how my life should go. I walked away from my faith at almost 30 years old, thinking that I was better off without God.
I was the poster child for pride. I wanted my own way, not the flip side of the coin of faith. I wanted the good stuff, but none of the hard stuff. I didn’t want the sacrifice, the suffering, or the serving. Just give me the miracles, please.
I’ve since realized his plan is almost always different than mine; it’s usually much harder (but also much better). I’ve also learned that true faith is humbling myself and being willing to sacrifice, suffer, and serve others in order to demonstrate God’s radical love, not just experience his miracles.
Now, I stand and praise and thank God for the miracles, and for the hard times. That’s the truth.
Over the last five years, my hubby (Ben) and I have experienced a lot of heartache, and not a lot of miracles. We’ve had many opportunities to praise and thank in the hard times.
We’ve lost two babies to miscarriage, lost Ben’s head football coaching job, lost my modeling career, lost my health (I spent months at the Mayo clinic), lost our financial security, lost major chunks of our home to water damage, lost our community (job change = community change), and more. It’s been really difficult at times, but our response has been the same.
Praise and thanks to God.
There is a particular time that stands out to me. It was early in our marriage, and we were pregnant, almost to 12 weeks. We were so excited to break the news, but instead, we miscarried. It was devastating. I remember sitting in the parking lot of the hospital, sobbing in our car together over this tiny life that we lost. I also remember Ben grabbing my hand and saying, “promise me that tonight we will still get on our knees and praise and thank God for his faithfulness.”
And we did. Night after night.
Tears, heartache, runny noses and all.
And we have continued to do it. Because we want to have true faith. The kind that trusts and obeys and serves God’s plan. We sacrifice, suffer, and serve whenever he asks us to. And we thank him for the privilege of being used by him.
I never could have done that before. I would have been too mad, too frustrated, too hurt to willingly go wherever he lead me. I was too blinded by pride to live a life of true faith. I couldn’t see that it’s not JUST about the miracles. It’s about the redeeming love that the Father lavishes upon us and our thankful desire to give up everything in return to serve him.
Friends, it means signing up for the hard road.
And that takes humility. True faith takes humility; a willingness to yield to the God of the Universe and whatever HIS plan is. Miracles or Hardship.
I had a thought this week and I’d like to share it with you:
To the extent you are willing to be humbled is the extent you can be transformed into Christ’s image (willing to sacrifice and suffer like he did) and the extent you can be used to further the Kingdom of God.
And it all starts with humility; a willingness to say this: God, I trust you alone. Have your way in my life. Point out in me all the things that offend you and make me more like you. I lay my life down at your feet and ask that you would use me to further your kingdom. No matter the cost, I am yours. Send me your Spirit to empower me to know and carry out your will. Thank you for loving me. Amen.
I am so thankful for the miracles I’ve seen this summer. But I’m more thankful for the God of Grace, who chooses to do them and who chooses not to because he knows best. And who offers extravagant love when we least deserve it. I will continue to give up everything for that kind of grace.
The more I read in the Word, the more committed I become to traveling the hard road of faith. Join me! Get in the Word and fall in love with a God worth dying for. Please feel free to contact me for prayer, any questions, or input. I love hearing from you!
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God of Wonders beyond our galaxy…who never leaves us or foresakes us. Not in the good times as we praise Him. Not in the bad times as we praise Him. For He alone is worthy, and we pray to our God to lead us and guide us in the direction of His desiring. You sure have it right. The road is long and the journey not easy, but therein lies the miracle of life – and the Light is waiting for us around each bend. Thank you for your witnessing love and your willingness and capablities to put it into devotional words. I will share and have shared as I pray your ministry grows as you continue to serve our loving God.