Success

“The Christian community loves a success story.”

I wrote that in my journal a few weeks ago after listening to a radio interview with a Christian celebrity who had gone through some very difficult life circumstances, but who is now in a place of blessing with a husband who has been healed and a baby on the way after years of thinking there wouldn’t be one.

I didn’t begrudge her. We ought to celebrate with other believers when God intervenes and heals and provides! We ought to find comfort and hope in the examples of those who share what God has done in their lives.

But I wonder if we sometimes give more value to the stories of “I hung in there and God rewarded me” than we do to the stories of “I’m still hanging on and walking with God even though my blessing hasn’t come yet”.

Sometimes the success is that we hang on when the story isn’t wrapped up in a neat little bow, when the happily ever after ending hasn’t come yet, when no one is asking us for radio interviews to tell of the blessings being poured out on us after the time of testing.

If you are going through a period of trial or difficulty or grief and you are still walking with God and trusting Him and waiting patiently for your reward, then you are the celebrity. You are the success story that others need to hear about.

And so today, I applaud you. I thank God for you and for the things He is doing in your life during this time. And I’ll celebrate with you when the blessing comes.

But for today, you are the success story.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:6

Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18

And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God;We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9

…that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:16-17

Strangers

Do my prayers for complete strangers really make any difference?

That question has been on my mind this week. I’ve always believed that they could, but I guess I never really stopped to think about why.

When my heart breaks for the family of a local 4 year old boy who was killed in a tragic car accident here last week, will my prayers make a difference? Do my prayers for people caught up in the political upheaval in Ukraine and Venezuela really do any good? What about when someone on Facebook shares a request for prayer for someone I’ve never met and will likely never meet?

Does my intercession for something or someone that I really know very little about even mean anything?

It does. And I went looking for scripture this morning to back that up.

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them…This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
(1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4 NLT)

When I don’t know the details about a situation, I can still bring it before the Lord, knowing that He is all-knowing and all-wise. When I don’t know the person or the situation or the state of their hearts, I can still intercede and ask that they come to an understanding of the truth of God’s presence and power and peace in the middle of their crisis or need or grief.

I don’t know how it all works, but God is pleased when we intercede on behalf of those we don’t know. And that’s good.

Because sometimes, that is all we can do.

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-10

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:16

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Colossians 1:9