Please don’t pray for my sister because she deserves it.

Neal Lisa UNC game

Okay before anyone wants to see if I’m all hopped up on some of that same goofy-juice they have been pumping Lisa full of to deal with the pain, please let me explain.

I am not losing my mind and advocating that you not lift her, Jeff and the girls, as well as the rest of our family up in your prayers – in fact I’m doing quite the opposite.  I am merely challenging each of us to check our mind and motives at the door.  So let me start again….
Please don’t pray for my sister because she “deserves” it – instead most certainly pray for my sister because HE deserves it!

We must be careful about the dangers of what I think can be called spiritual entitlement. It is easy to identify that ugly word “Entitlement” when it refers to special programs that give goods and services to people that we “judge” don’t deserve it; the 16-year-old who immediately wants the brand-new car, the college grad who believes they are owed a high paying job straight out of school, or the athlete that knows they are God’s gift to the sport and will automatically “make it to the next level”; the list is tiring as well as endless. But often we overlook when we feel like we deserve some specific blessing or miracle or circumstance change from God because our goodness has earned it.

When someone feels or believes they deserve a particular outcome it can be seen as something they earned, sort of like a wage to be worked towards.  But God’s Word tells us that the wages of sin is death and also says for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  The reality is this, none of us are exempt.
So the very thing we actually deserve is something that I believe we would not desire.
The pages of Scripture never paint this picture of spiritual entitlement, instead it does exactly the opposite. The only perfect person who could truly say He deserved something different because of His own goodness still died, and He died for us.  And in an even more head-scratching scenario He did so while we were still in our own sins!

We are not alone when we contemplate how “bad things can happen to good people” but I might argue that the premise is actually the problem.  I believe we have fallen prey to the temptation to think of ourselves more highly than we ought.  There are 2 key elements I believe are amiss here.
First – are we truly “good” on our own?  Yes, in Christ we are made, whole, complete and new, but that is HIS righteousness and goodness not so much our own.  I am reminded of Jesus’ own answer in Mark 10 when a man called Him “good teacher”.  Jesus replied, “No one is good except God alone.”
So let that sink in a second – if the very own Son of God deflected the impartation of the title “good” and reflected it back to the Father instead – why should we think we are inherently “good” and deserve anything other than the things that come our way in this broken world?

Second – when we look from the very beginning pages of the Old & New Testament we see plenty of stories of “good” people having “bad” things happen to them.  I wonder if Abel felt he deserved better from Cain, or Joseph felt he deserved different treatment from his brothers, or Job most certainly would have deserved a different situation in the midst of the madness, or Stephen deserved another outcome from the mob who would stone him.  Just think, Jesus – the only one who we can say TRULY DID DESERVE something better, and in the midst of His own grief even asked for another avenue while praying in the garden, still had terrible things happen to Him.  The ultimate reality was that He more importantly chose to submit to the will of the Father simply because God DOES deserve it – from His own Son and more so from all of us!

So back to Lisa and the situation at hand.  
Yes, you are all correct in calling her a faithful Child of God, someone with a sweet and sacrificial spirit as well as strutting a strong sense of humor and sarcasm, which we all know that apple falls directly at the base of the family tree!  She is a diligent daughter, fantastic friend to many, wonderful wife, magnificent mom, mighty mentor and the list goes on and on.  Is she always put together and powerfully perfect – even she would cackle – HECK NO, and if you want further proof of this preposterous notion then just give me a few days of your time I might even have a powerpoint presentation!!! 🙂

And YES we do ask that you pray – pray earnestly – pray honestly – heck pray selfishly for what we would like to see happen.  I am a firm believer that God is big enough for us to come boldly into His presence with our prayers and petitions no matter what they may be – as long as we leave them at His feet trusting in Him to do what’s best.

Neal Lisa Jeff BeachSo don’t pray for my sister because she deserves it – in contrast pray for her because HE deserves it!
He deserves people who will fall at His feet asking for Him to be the sovereign solution. He deserves people who recognize His power to heal. He deserves people who will come to Him in full submission and graciously accept whatever His will may be for their lives.
He deserves the honor and the glory and the praise that can come from complete healing or simply a life fully devoted to Him.

So I do ask you to pray for my sister, pray for her healing, pray for the doctors, pray for her family, heck even pray she will just let go of this whole “chocolate cake obsession”!  More importantly though pray for us to be respectfully & humbly trusting of God’s will – BUT DO NOT pray for her because she deserves it.  Instead pray for her because HE DEFINITELY DOES!

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