As a child growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, Judy Blume was a favorite author of mine. She wrote dozens of books, but perhaps the most well-known is Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. The main character, Margaret is a sixth-grade girl who faces difficulty upon difficulty (from the viewpoint of an adolescent) and she finds herself writing frequently in a diary asking the question of God, “Are you there?”
I must admit, in my own prayer life over the past several months, I am not unlike Margaret. Although I believe 100% in the sovereignty of God, I have found myself asking, “Are you there God?” It seems that prayer upon prayer has gone unanswered in the way I would have hoped. There is so much hurt, grief, anger, illness, exhaustion and more all around us. I have attended funerals of far too many and can barely watch the news for more than a few moments without finding myself in tears. We are all so weary.
On March 13, 2020, when I had absolutely no idea what was about to hit us, I wrote the following:
“To get my head around it all, I want to share five things that are on my heart. Five things I want you to hear from me about our current situation. Five things I am trying to consider in my own life to process it all.
1) Faith and Fear cannot co-exist. The enemy has used fear as a tactic to keep believers off course since he was cast from Heaven. Faith, as described in Hebrews 11, is “being certain of what we do not see.” CERTAIN. We must fix our minds and hearts on the certain truth of Scripture. We have a God who is still in control even when our current situation seems so out of control. In John 16 we are told, “Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Our knowledge may have to take over our feelings to remind us of what it true. That’s why we’re also told, “Take captive your thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.” Scripture has guidance for everything we experience and this is no different. God isn’t in Heaven scratching his head wondering what is happening. Choose faith over fear.
2) Having said that, God is not disappointed in you for having emotions. He’s big enough to allow us to question and wrestle and cry and shout. He loves us to the point of “collecting our tears in a bottle and recording each one in His book.” (Psalm 56:8) He’s never surprised, never caught off guard and loves us no more or no less based on how we react to anything. We are humans, created by a loving God with individual personalities and gifts. These days are hard….it’s okay to feel. He gets it.
3) When you need place to put all of those feelings, turn to prayer and your people. Confess first to Him. Say them out loud. Ask for peace and discernment when information is coming at you from dozens of sources and it’s all contradictory. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Don’t neglect prayer or minimize its benefit during times like these and don’t neglect the necessity of your people. Hold your loved ones close. Use the slow down time to invest in your relationships. We need one another.
4) Stay alert. Faith does not mean that we are to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the wisdom of professionals and leaders who advise us. God puts those folks in our path to assist us. Consider the facts and make your decisions based on wise counsel from legitimate sources. I love what my pastor shared just today, “Don’t get your theology from Facebook memes.” I would add, “nor your medical knowledge.”
5) Be a source of reason, comfort and love during this trying time. As people of faith, we have an opportunity to be light and salt every day in our world. But in times like these we can shine brighter than ever before or we can join in and look no different than those who don’t have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Be careful what you share on social media. Be careful what you say in your circles. In Colossians we’re told, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Be patient, be kind, be alert, be diligent, be honest, and encourage when you can. Help calm the fear, don’t be a source of it. “
I believe that every one of those things remains true eighteen months later. God is there. He does hear my prayers even when I may not like the outcomes. And He is always working.
Today my prayer is specifically for my dear friends who will bury a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a wife long before anyone ever expected. I wish I had words that could heal our broken hearts, but I don’t. So I’ll cry out once again, “Are you there God? It’s me…Stephani” and ask Him to provide peace and comfort that only He can.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalm 34:18
Stephani Cook is a life coach, speaker, writer, podcast host and the creator of On Purpose Coaching. Through On Purpose Coaching she helps others to improve relationships and to discover intentional abundant living. She does that through group and/or individual coaching, live event speaking or Enneagram workshops in private and corporate settings.
To connect with Stephani about the possibility of coaching or speaking to your group or organization, visit her website http://www.stephanicook.org