When my husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack during a bike ride, I wondered how I could make it from one moment to the next. Many well-meaning people said things like, “God must have needed another angel in heaven.” Or, “It must have been God’s plan for him to die.” To a person whose heart had been broken into a million pieces, those words DID NOT bring me any peace. I eventually started responding, I can not believe that God needed an angel more than our children needed their father. And I find it difficult to believe that God was up in heaven reigning down death on an unsuspecting man as he rode his bike ride on September morning. Profound grief, it seemed, had ripped away the filter of proper responses. In its place were the real and very raw comments that dripped with cynicism and reflected the life I was living.
Enough healing has taken place for me to process my words a little better before I speak. I tend to be a little gentler with well-meaning folks. The bitterness and sorrow of grief have lost their sting. Yet there are still plenty of times when the tough things threaten to get the best of me. The struggle is real, and it is not to be navigated on my own.
When faced with really difficult situations and how to handle them, I remember the words of one of my favorite fiction characters. Father Tim Kavanaugh is an Episcopal priest in Jan Karon’s books about life in Mitford, NC. Numerous times he reminds others to “pray the prayer that never fails.” This particular prayer is found embedded in the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. The key verse which calls us to surrender to God’s will is, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I struggle with God’s will as I try to reconcile the death of my husband. Was it really God’s plan or will for my husband to have plaque in his arteries, thus causing blockage and a heart attack that took his life? I tend to believe God is loving and desires the best for me.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Matthew 6: 9-13, it was a model for a life of prayer. The words, “Thy will be done,” invite me to place my trust in God, and not in my own power. Following God’s will means that as I pray for healing and relief, I allow God’s will to answer the prayer in God’s own way and time. Try as I might, I am not able to contain God’s power and will within a box of my own creation. By putting God in a box I limit my view of what God might be capable of doing, and thus prevent God from really doing the work of the prayer.
When I really trust God’s will, I accept that God is able to see beyond my circumstances. God understands all that is at play in my life. There is peace knowing that while God is not puppeting my life, the Creator desires for me to be transformed as I trust and offer all things in prayer.
How easy is it for you to put your trust in God? Is there something holding you back? As you pray, do your prayers reflect a desire for God to guide you? Or are you trying to control the outcomes in your life without regard to God’s transforming love? It is God’s plan for me and for you to live life to the fullest. It is not God’s desire to bring you harm.
In John’s Gospel 10:10 Jesus says: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” As people of God, we are called to seek ways to live a life of abundance. That begins with trusting God’s will for your life.
Lord God, I so much want to put my complete trust in You, but some days it is so very difficult. Help me, Lord, to offer my prayers and then to step out of Your way to let You do Your work. Amen.
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