The Good From The Bad And Ugly

Sometimes it seems that the more we pray the worse things become. Even if they’re not becoming worse, they don’t seem to be improving. Sickness and death still plague us. Our Western civilization is losing its collective mind. Hurricanes still strike our coasts and bring unbelievable destruction to property and life. Now with the availability of information 24/7/365 we are notified about every bad situation from our own neighborhoods to Timbuktu. We are constantly bombarded with everything that is going wrong in the world. Our minds are overwhelmed with this information noise that can be discouraging and disorienting.

If we are praying and nothing is perceptibly changing, why do we keep doing it? If we are weak and don’t know what to pray for as we ought, we do we keep praying with wordless groanings, not knowing just how our prayers are being answered (Rom 8.26)? 

We persevere in prayer and through all of the suffering and groaning because “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom 8.28). This is our assurance in prayer. This is our assurance in every situation in life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is our foundation for sanity in an insane world. 

Our God has a plan. That plan will not be thwarted by the sin of man. Indeed, God, in his wisdom, is using even the sin of man to work for the good of his people and, through them, the entirety of the cosmos. One need only look at the cross to see this truth. While sin is not good in itself and will be punished, God is working through sin to accomplish his purpose. All of the insanity that is going on all around us right now in Western civilization is all a part of the plan.

Lest we begin to believe that God’s plan is dependent upon our strength as the church, we need to remember that we are weak and don’t know what to pray for as we ought. God’s purpose will not be accomplished because we are mighty prayer warriors who know just what to pray. We are assured that the Spirit is working with us in prayer and that our weakness will in no way hinder what God will do for us. God works through our weakness in prayer to accomplish his purpose.

Our encouragement in prayer is not that we come to the place that we have figured everything out and that we know how to fix it. Our encouragement is not even seeing God do what we want him to do for us and those around is in the short term. Our encouragement is that we love, serve, and pray to a sovereign heavenly Father who loves us, is sovereign for us, and promises that he is working all things together for good whether we see it or not. 

Yes, we come groaning in prayer with the weight of the effects of sin being felt. But we come groaning to a heavenly Father who loves us and enters into that pain with us in Christ and by the Spirit. He is not a God who is far off but a God who is near. And this God who loves us and is near to us is the one who declares the end from the beginning; he works all things after the counsel of his own will (Eph 1.11).

On this side of our resurrection there will always be reason to groan in suffering prayer. But as we pray, we can pray with the rock-solid faith that our heavenly Father loves us more than we can imagine and has a good purpose for us. We can trust him that the suffering we endure, no matter what form it takes, is under his control and is working for our good.