We all face adversity. Life contains adversity. It is a part of this life here and now. Something I have written about or at least have made a meme about is the fact that my circumstances do not prove God is for me…..His word proves He is for me. One of the things that I have had to undo not only in myself but also in my now adult children is the idea that only if things are going well in our lives does it mean that we are “okay with God”. Here is the root of this thinking: ‘Favor from God’ only happens when ‘we are free from sin’ and this is how we are in ‘good standing with God’ and IF anything bad happens in your life you need to ask God where you have sinned so YOU can fix “it” with Him and then His favor will return to your life. The “IT”, in the last sentence, is the relationship with Him. This is not the correct view of God in the New Covenant. The TRUTH instead is He has already fixed the relationship with us through His Son. Our behavior or lack of it does not fix the relationship we have with God; His Son, on the Cross is what has fixed this relationship for us. Now I understand, I am always in FAVOR with my Father in Heaven; not because of what I have or haven’t done but because of what His Son did, has done and is doing for me. So….why adversity!!!! Why is life tough? Why is life throwing lemons at me right now? What did I do to deserve this? Why can’t I get a break here, God?????
I believe there isn’t just one pat answer to those questions, period. Everyone is interacting with other people, we live in a fallen world, what have you sown, maybe you need to take responsibility for your choices, maybe God is protecting you, maybe this isn’t…….., maybe, maybe, maybe and the list could go on and on. What I do know is adversity is a part of our lives. As I pondered this in my heart with the Lord He resounded within me the following:
I also unexpectedly found a verse from 1 Peter 3:17 that I want to elaborate on. But before I do I want to clarify the above statement because before I would look at this statement and would have thought….”I need to perform this.” Instead of simply living it because I believed it in my core I would say I believed it but because it wasn’t part of my core my actions did not line up with the statement. I wrote about this in: Actions Are Louder Than Words . These were empty words stated to help myself on the outside hoping it would make an impact on the inside. Now these words are stated on the inside of my spirit from the Holy Spirit where He actually initiates and creates the very belief or faith (pistis in Greek) which then it becomes my choice to embrace that belief or not. Below is the definition of pistis from biblehub.com which is the Greek word we frequently use as faith. I wanted to remind myself and you what it actually means and what is involved before we go further. So just as a refresher:
Now for the scripture God dropped in my lap this morning from 1 Peter 3:17 (NASB):
“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
Here is what I learned from this verse:
- Better means stronger, more excellent; Plant down God’s flag of victory: What is better because more fully developed.
- For- this word’s sense is shaped by the preceding statement. It is always an A-B unit. Here it is translated as indeed in biblehub.com. It is giving the reason and cause of the statement just mentioned.
- What is right-I do that which is good comes from the root agathos “intrinsically good” and poieo “to do, make” —to do what is inherently good which would mean what is inspired and powered by God.
- If- conditional conjunction, meaning that the condition has to be met for the rest of the statement to be accurate.
- Will (2309)- to desire/wish, the Lord extending His best offer to the believer desiring to birth His persuasion (faith) in them which also empowers, manifest His presence etc. (close connection to pistis (faith))
- The- the
- Will (2307)- God’s preferred will, wish, desire; His best offer which can be accepted or rejected.
- To suffer- I am acted upon in a certain way—properly — to feel heavy emotion especially suffering; affected, experiencing feeling (literally “sensible”, “sense experience”) ” the feeling of the mind, emotion, passion”. J. Thayer: “The capacity to feel suffering”. The Lord has c related us in HIs Divine Image and just as Jesus felt deeply we also have the same capacity. Taken from the roots 3804- passion/suffering and 3805 suffering and 3806 strong feeling, passion.
- Than- than= introduces the second element to a comparison
- Doing evil- means to do evil, acting from a nasty twisted disposition. The word origin is from 2556 “inner” and 4160 ” to do, act, cause malice, rotten, foul, inner malice–properly—-flowing out of a morally rotten character.
It could read as follows:
For it is planting down God’s victory flag, IF the Lord extends His best offer desiring to birth His faith within you and empower you with whatever you need in the moment which then can either be accepted or rejected by you, to suffer for doing what is intrinsically good (which can only be inspired and powered by God within you) rather than acting from an inner rotten malice.
Wow, what a fantastic Father we have within us. Even my choice to believe God has good for me starts within me from Him. Even this I can’t furnish on my own and we ALWAYS have a free will choice.
I have learned it is so much easier looking back at all God has done for us than looking ahead to anticipate God’s goodness.
Now when adversity occurs in life, when bad things happen to me, my family or my friends my first reaction isn’t, “What did I or they do WRONG??? Or Where did we sin or fall short????”. My first reaction is UGH, why did this happen or not happen!!! But then as I ruminate with the Lord as the day goes on or maybe days….I sense within me an answer or a simple child like faith rising up within me that I can either choose to accept or reject. Sometimes it takes longer for that to happen within me because I have questions and want answers….again there is no pat answer. I have seen some friends walk out two plus years of waiting and then…..An answer. But they never gave up on God. They have had plenty of questions. I have too as I have prayed for them. Why now…..because now was exactly what they needed, above and beyond expectation. Was God there all along, yes…did it always feel like it…honestly, no. But He was. He was in the big things and in the little things. He really was and it is easier to look back now and see Him in all those things.
My same good friend had asked me a good question that I would like to answer publicly here because it was such a good question. She had asked, “What do you pray for then?”
First I want to emphasize there are two words in the Greek for pray and many more that involve pray in the NT Greek. Here are a few:
2172 Euchomai = I pray, wish for–which is used for wishes not necessarily God birthed unlike the stronger prefixed cognate (4336 Proseuxomai)
4336 Proseuxomai = literally to interact with the Lord by switching human wishes (ideas) for His wishes as He impacts faith (divine persuasion).
1189 Deomai = feeling pressing need because of lack causing one to make an urgent appeal or request.
2065 Eratao = make an earnest request, or ask a question, because of the special relationship involved.
The point I want to make here is that I pray for……EVERYTHING. Like I explained to her it is a relationship between my Father and I. Just like with Bryan (my husband) it is relational and I talk to Bryan about everything; just like I do with God. Yet with God, He lives inside me and knows my heart; so this is very different from any human relationship we have. I see Him as my good Father who wants to hear my dreams, wishes, desires, wants, needs and questions. He is always there whether I am having a tantrum, angry, scared, happy, sad, joyful or whatever. I now can finally see Him as always good and always there. I just don’t say that I know He is good and He is there, it is now in me (from the inside out). The reason I know it is from the inside out is because of adversity in my life. I have chosen God no matter what happens to me, my family or my friends. Because of adversity I know that the change within me has occurred because of Him and my free will choice to choose what He has for me in the moment I need it. Adversity has caused us to become more fully developed. Especially when we have suffered for doing what is intrinsically good. I understand not everything I wish for I get to have; but that never stops me from asking. Yet, I also know when it lines up with His will, His preferred desire it will happen. Maybe not in my timing but definitely in His. As you can see above He wants to talk about everything with us. He wants questions, He wants us to ask in our need, He wants to hear our desires, He is speaking and exchanging our will for His within us. He already sees our heart, He knows it intimately. Do you always have to utter words outside of your body?? I really don’t think so. So many times there have been prayers in my heart. It isn’t about doing A, B, C; it is about the relationship between you and Him. This is His Heart. It has always been about relationship with God and He wants us to know this.