Feb 2, 2010

Lessons from the Cross

Recently I have been praying about something I've been struggling with. Maybe it seems like a little bit of an oxymoron unless you've been there yourself, but I was praying about prayer. I've had some difficult situations take place in the lives of myself, some of my friends, & also my family members lately. I know that in Matthew 5:45 it says that "rain falls on both the just & the unjust" & also in James 1:2 it says that we are to count it all joy when we fall into trials because the testing of our faith produces patience & perseverance. So I know that God has a purpose in every hardship that He allows, but I was kind of struggling because it almost seemed like God was just refusing to answer prayer. I hate seeing the people that I love in the midst of situations where they are hurting & crying out to God & it appears as if God has forsaken them. I know that it is not wise to question God, but I was honestly just struggling with this & I was to the point where I was pretty much challenging God to show Himself clearly in my life & in the lives of my loved ones who were hurting.

How foolish I am. God always answers prayers. Of course He has already shown Himself in my life time & time again, & I realized this. I just wanted to feel Him now. But thankfully we serve a God who is eternally gracious, loving, & Who shows unmerited favor for His children time & time again. 
 It is amazing how God speaks so clearly through scripture. In my devotions over the past week, it seems as if certain passages were written just for me. So when I was really questioning God about why He was doing something a certain way, I "just happened" to come across these passages. I'll let you in on a little bit of what was taking place in my head:

Me: "Lord, I don't understand! Why are you letting this situation take place in my life right now? This is not a good way to help me grow. Don't you know that my life is crazy enough? This is not what is best for me!!"

Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to you who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay sato him who forms it, ‘Whaare you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?"

Me: "Well Father, I wouldn't put it that way exactly. I mean, I wasn't really asking you what you're going to make out of this situation. I guess I was just...well, isn't there a better way? Less painful perhaps? Couldn't you do it, um, my way?"

Isaiah 55:8  "My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord."

Me: "I know that, Lord. I understand that Your ways are above my understanding, but would You be willing to hear me out if I made a few suggestions on Your course of action?"

Job 38:4-6 "“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Me: "Ok, I wasn't there when You created the world. In fact, I haven't even been on earth for 20 years. I know that You know best, I just....Lord I need to understand why I can't see Your hand at work in the situations that my friends & family are going through."

God wasn't silent at this point, but I don't think I was truly listening for His voice. I was trying to walk by sight, not by faith. And as Hebrews 11:6 states "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him."

But again, God is faithful. As I did my devotions in Matthew the other day, God used the story of Christ's persecution in a way that I have never experienced before.  As I read through Matthew's account of the crucifixion, I took note of Jesus's prayers to His heavenly Father. In the last hours before His capture, we see Jesus crying out to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane.

 In chapter 26, verse 39, Christ is aware of the pain & humiliation He is about to face. "And going a little farther He fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'"
If it was possible, but it wasn't. There was no other way that we could be redeemed & that God's will be done other than this Perfect Man to die in our place. Jesus Christ, the Son of God was crying out asking God if there was some other way for His will to be fulfilled. Just as I had been praying for a different way for God's will to be accomplished in my life. But there is a major difference between my prayer & Christ's prayer; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

Christ was willing to do whatever it took to fulfill the will of God, even though it meant He would surrender His life. He didn't take the easy way out.
I was hoping that God would provide an easy way out of a difficult time, both in my life & the lives of my loved ones. But when has "easy" ever taught us anything? How much do we depend on God for strength when we feel like we've got everything under control?

But my learning wasn't done yet. As I continued reading the rest of the story through my tears, I noticed some other people who questioned God's ways. 

In chapter 27:42-43, as Christ lay on the cross, drawing shallow breaths, the Roman soldiers & angry crowd taunted Him: “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now, if He desires Him. For He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
I suddenly realized my actions in demanding that God prove Himself in my life were very similar to those of the soldiers who crucified Jesus Christ. What if God did follow human's silly whims? What would have happened if God would have accepted their challenge"prove" Himself on that day? The consequences are unimaginable!

 If God had indeed delivered His Son from the cross, we would be without a Savior. Think about it. It must have seemed insane & incomprehensible to the bystanders on that day that God was allowing His Son to be pierced & bruised by the hands of men. It didn't make sense that an all powerful God would allow His Son to die. What good, & what purpose could possibly be found in that? 

But thankfully God's ways are not our ways. He is so far above us in every way, & He used a seemingly tragic & hopeless situation to bring hope, life, & salvation into a desperate & dying world. All because He chose not to answer some prayers & challenges in the way that most of us would have expected. He had a purpose that could not be seen in the midst of the pain, but is clearly displayed now in the beauty of His love. If you are struggling with God's purpose in allowing pain into your life, have patience, keep the faith. God's hand is always at work even when we cannot see it, & He never wastes our tears. Persevere; God will reward you. Love you all!!


  1. Alicia, you have such a way with words. I am so thankful you are blogging. You are so encouraging, and I have no doubt God is going to use you in such an awesome way...possibly through writing! I love you so much. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and struggles

  2. Thank you so much Amber. I was so encourage by talking with you last night. You always make me laugh!! I miss you so much. Hopefully I'll see you soon =) Love you!

  3. God is at work in your life Alicia. He is refining you and changing you into a vessel perfectly fit for His service. I know that God has big plans for you, and He has placed such a desire in you to seek Truth and follow Christ. God is really using your blog to encourage others, especially me. I miss you, and I hope that we can hang out this weekend. I want to hear more about what God is doing in your life. I love you so much!

  4. I miss you too Stephanie! I miss just being able to catch up on each other's lives after church or whenever. I am looking forward to seeing you in a couple of days =) Thank you for being such a great friend. Love ya!!


  5. Very interesting Alicia. You have such an eloquent way of communicating. I miss you. :)

    -Sarah Hogan

    P.S. hope it's not weird that i'm creeping your blog. :)

  6. Lol. No, I don't consider you a creeper Sarah ; ) I miss you too though! We definitely have to get together to play some music again soon. I hope you're doing well & that your 3+ jobs aren't killing you. =) Talk to you soon! <3