Turning Everything Over to God

It is often difficult to let go of pain in our life. We may cling to hurt feelings, at cost of reconciling with another person. Bad words can stick with us for a long time, even after several years have passed when someone first spoke them to us.

Pain is especially prevalent in hurt relationships where you witness someone else engage in destructive behavior. We want so badly for that person to make the right decision, but they turn the other way. We eagerly want them to get better, but they often make the same mistakes over and over again. We want that brother, sister, cousin, parent, or friend to follow God. Yet we cannot make that decision for him or her.

Jesus was no stranger to pain. On one occasion, some of his family supposedly objected to his ministry. Jesus also told stories of sibling conflict. Jesus cried and felt the pain of loss. Perhaps most famously, we might recall Jesus’ crucifixion, which was definitely one of the worst possible ways to be tortured and killed.

During his ministry, Jesus also offered up touching parables and teachings about God potentially feeling pain because of wayward children. The story of the lost son probably comes to mind, where the loving father welcomes back his wayward son. Perhaps this is why this parable is one of the most famous ones Jesus taught. Many people can identify with “running away”, missing someone, or seeing another person make poor decisions. We see ourselves in the child who is lost, or we might hope to feel the healing depicted by the loving father.

I personally find comfort in many of these gospel teachings. I believe they help us realize that Jesus knows exactly what we are going through when we face pain with family or friendship. Surely we should remember Jesus can handle it if we only trust him!

Many people might not realize this, but Ruth Bell Graham dealt with pain in her own personal relationships. She was the wife of evangelist Billy Graham. Ruth and Billy’s children sometimes wandered and drifted away from the faith, especially as they entered into adulthood. In my studies a while back, I came across a poem she had written reflecting on handing things over to God, based off her own life of waiting for a phone call from a distant child…

“She waited for the call that never came”

She waited for the call

that never came;

searched every mail

for a letter,

or a note,

or card,

that bore his name;

and on her knees at night,

and on her feet

all day,

she stormed Heaven’s gate

in his behalf;

she pled for him

in Heaven’s high court.

“Be still, and wait; and see”–

the word God gave;

then she

knew that He would

do in and for and with him,

that which she never could.

So doubts ignored

she went about her chores

with joy–

knowing, though spurned,

His word was true.

The prodigal had not returned,

but God was God,

and there was work to do.

We all have “prodigals” in our life–people we may deeply care about, yet we see them make bad decisions. Prodigals are not limited to children (in fact, I’ve met quite a few folks who have prodigal parents!). In all these cases of frustration, hopelessness, and pain it is so important to turn these cares over to God. Or as Ruth Graham once put it: “The prodigal had not returned, but God was God… and there was work to do.”

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