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Devotions

When Hollering is Prayer

January 3, 2018
“While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers …” Hebrews 5:7a (NLT)
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In my 20s I carried around two false beliefs.

First, I felt God owed me a pain-free life because of childhood trauma. I’d experienced enough violation and sadness, and I thought His obvious job would be to shelter me from further harm. For a period of time, God seemed to obey my heart’s demands — I graduated from college, landed a good job and met my husband Patrick. All according to my plan.

Second, I thought I needed to play nice with God, never sharing my frustrations or unseemly emotions.

Those two erroneous beliefs violently collided in my little blue car one awful afternoon. Weeks earlier I’d uttered the words, “I’m pregnant” for the first time. The blue lines on the early pregnancy test, faint as they were, illustrated a dream realized. As a child of sexual abuse, neglect, three divorces and parental death, I ached to have a baby of my own, to reverse my past and start afresh — all part of my perceived perfect life.

But after cramping, an invasive ultrasound and the slow shaking of my doctor’s head, I reeled from the two words he uttered: ectopic pregnancy.

On the way to the hospital to face this possibly life-threatening diagnosis (oh, but it had already taken one life — my baby’s!), I hollered at God and let my anger fly full force.

“Now I have proof You don’t love me!”

A roar, pregnant with grief, erupted. Tears rolling, heart heavy, uterus barren, I let God have it — all my bewilderment, questions and boiling rage.

It was the most honest I’d ever let myself be with God. I pleaded with Him to miraculously reverse the diagnosis, asked Him to keep His end of the pain-free bargain I’d felt we struck. On and on I hollered until my voice became tired and sore, more raspy than vocal.

Chest heaving, eyes bloodshot, two miles from the hospital, the silence in the car strangely calmed me. I half expected a lightning bolt to strike, but none came.

Instead, a peace I cannot explain permeated me. In that moment, I realized God already knew my internal hostility. My honest confessions hadn’t taken Him by surprise, nor did my raw bewilderment anger Him. My hollering prayer sat between us, yes, but strength did too. There, His beautiful strength met my clear weakness.

The car trip to the hospital didn’t end happily. Instead it reeked of grief. Yes, the ectopic pregnancy ended the life of my baby, and with that I faced an uncertain fertility future.

In the process, I learned God doesn’t owe me a pain-free life. There’s no threshold or pain-o-meter one must reach to “earn” that distinction. When I wanted God to obey my desires, I usurped His role, by not welcoming His paradoxical plan to unfold.

Truth is, I’ve grown more through pain than I’ve ever grown through ease. And the beauty of this life isn’t pain-free circumstances, but experiencing fellowship with God in the midst of agonizing trials.

God’s broad shoulders are big enough to handle my honesty. He already knows what’s within us, so why pretend He doesn’t? The Christian life is not about playacting joy when all is not well. I can spend so much energy on facades of perfection, forgetting God’s strength is best welcomed when I’m at my weakest.

In today’s key verse, we see how Jesus demonstrated honesty in His own prayer life — one with pleadings, loud cries and tears. “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers” (Hebrews 5:7a). If He prayed this way, honestly, we can, too.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for thinking You owe me a pain-free life. And please empower me to be truly honest when I pray. Thank You that Your shoulders are big enough to handle my authenticity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

2 Corinthians 4:7, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” (NLT)

Romans 8:26, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (NLT)

RELATED RESOURCES:

Learn how to pray the kind of gut-level prayers that bring the peace and freedom Mary described today. In Jesus Every Day, you’ll pray through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.

CONNECT:

Need prayer? Receive a free personalized prayer in your inbox that will empower and encourage you — every Monday for a year. Sign up here.

Enter to WIN a copy of Jesus Every Day by Mary DeMuth. In celebration of this book, Harvest House Publishers are giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here. {We'll randomly select 5 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, January 8, 2018.}

REFLECT AND RESPOND:

Look back over your life. When have you grown the most? How did God meet you in those circumstances? What holds you back from letting God know what He already knows?

Today, aim to let God’s plan be God’s plan. Be gloriously, honestly you before your Creator. In that intersection, you’ll experience His strength.

© 2018 by Mary DeMuth. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Harvest House Publishers for their sponsorship of today's devotion.

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