Well, I went outside and checked. My house is not painted yet (If that does not have a context for you, see yesterday’s post). What’s up with that? I thought doing a blog post about seeking the spiritual to solve physical problems would get me results.
Alas, the trim on the house is still a mess. What does it mean to seek a spiritual answer to a physical problem? Why pray about physical troubles?
There are a couple things to consider in attempting to answer:
1) God does care about your physical problems, just probably not for the same reasons you do! This doesn’t mean they are inconsequential, or that He does not feel compassion for you, it merely means our approach to physical things is different from God’s.
2) I do not ascribe to the idea that the purpose of prayer is “merely to bring us into alignment with God’s will” and that’s it. I believe being in alignment with God’s will is ONE OF the purposes of prayer, but not the sole purpose. I do believe prayer changes things and I believe prayer can influence physical reality. I believe this because of the Bible.
3) Neither my experience, nor yours, is our guide for direction. God’s Word is what we rely on and we must take that over all our experience that seems to deny scriptural reality.
4) Although I do believe our growth in knowledge and love of God is more important than our physical condition, this does not belittle our physical condition, but actually increases its importance. The height of vanity is physical suffering in the life of an unbeliever.
5) I do not believe that everything that happens to us is God’s will. There is no mysterious reason from God why I got smacked in the shin with a baseball two days ago resulting in a large painful bump. It happened cuz of God’s ordained laws of physics. I do not believe God took any time in eternity to orchestrate my pain. He knows it, He cares about it, and He is watching to see what I do with it, but much that goes on down here is not God’s will. This is the only way the Lord’s Prayer makes any sense. Our God is not the God of the Koran, nor are we fatalistically thrown from the frying pan into the fire.
People ask me all the time to pray for this sick person, and that person with no job, and various other physical conditions that are deemed “bad.” I imagine they want me to pray for healing, a job, or some other physical alleviation.
This is not my prayer. I always pray that whatever would bring this person closer to Christ would happen. If that means they lose a limb or remain unemployed, then so be it. If miraculous delivery would serve them best, then go for that.
Being transformed into the image of Christ is our goal. Tribulation and suffering achieve this, death being the final barrier. Paul, in his request to know Christ, first lists knowing the “power of His resurrection.” Paul no doubt gets many “amens” on that point!
But I imagine the ameners quiet down as he gets to “and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Yeah, There’s probably one guy who says “ame. . .” and then quits, sensing he is the only one amening and realizes he wasn’t really listening. “Being made conformable to His death.” Crickets don’t even chirp at that one.
Suffering and death are two huge ways God uses to form us into Christ and yet we immediately cry for them to go away!
God does care about your physical suffering, just not for the same reason you do!