Today is the National Day of Prayer. It happens each year on the first Thursday in May. And, while I thought about writing something new for today, my mind kept drifting back to a post I wrote several years ago when doctors were fairly certain I had lymphoma. It was one of the most honest, scary prayers I have ever prayed.
Here's what I said:
"Lord, I don't like this, and I would like you to miraculously change this. However, if this is what it takes to better tell your story...if this is what it takes to teach me who you really are...if this is what it takes to make me who you want me to be...than this is what I want."
In retrospect, I kinda feel like I was lying to God because, on a purely human level, this was not what I wanted. In fact, this was the exact opposite of what I wanted. This was scary. This was painful. This was out of my control. I don't know about you, but I am not a big fan of fear and pain and insecurity.
Jesus prayed a very similar prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before being crucified. He didn't like what was about to happen to him. It was going to hurt, and he wanted out. So, he asked for an alternative. Yet Christ also took time to acknowledge that God's will should trump his wants. In Luke 22, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
I don't know what this looks like for you. Maybe it's the loss of a job or the loss of a spouse. Maybe it's a health concern or a financial crisis. Maybe it's a failed relationship or a failed business. Maybe it's an uncontrollable addiction or an uncontrollable child. Frankly, it doesn't matter. Just know that it is okay to pray for your own wants and desires. It's okay to pray for healing or restoration or favor or relief. It's okay to pray for selfish stuff. Jesus did.
The key, though, is understanding that this is part of a bigger plan. This is something that God can change, but that he reserves the right not to. This is part of a story we are not the author of, and we don't know the ending to. But this is also promised to--somehow, some way--be used for the glory of God.
We all want our way. But just imagine where we'd be if--2,000 years ago--Jesus had gotten his.