We have a sign in our basements that reads “Pray Hardest when it’s Hardest to Pray.” When my father-in-law gifted us this sign I thought the saying was cute but didn’t give the words much thought. I put the sign on the basement shelf and left it at that. However, the more I think about those words, the more truth I find hidden within them.
This simple phrase gives direction on what to do in our most desolate times. During seasons when I don’t hear the Lord’s voice or feel His movements, I have to fight off the lie that I am abandoned. It is easy for me to allow lies to creep in that make me believe He forgot about me or doesn’t love me enough to change the circumstances.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when everything was shut down, this is exactly where I was at. I was overcome with feelings of resentment towards the Lord. It felt like just as I was peaking, the Lord shut off my life! I was quite far into training for a half marathon, but the race was canceled. I was doing well in my career as a teacher, but school was shut down and I was teaching remotely. My prayer life was on fire and I felt so close to God, but churches were closed and mass was online. We were stuck at home with an evergrowing fear of what was going to happen when the virus finally made its way into our neighborhood.
There was one afternoon I was able to attend mass! It was such a blessing to be given the opportunity, especially because most church doors were locked. The priest ended the mass by having us listen to the song ‘How Great is our God’. My eyes welled up with hot angry tears. During that season of life, I did not believe that our God was all that great.
I brought up these feelings to my sister. I was ashamed to admit that I was really upset with God. She told me God needs to hear exactly how I feel, so I journaled. I wrote the Lord a long letter and did not hold anything back. I told him how I was grieving my students and disappointed my half marathon was canceled. I lamented about missing my coworkers and not being able to see extended family for holidays. I cried and begged Him to explain why He willed such a horrible pandemic.
If we are being honest, it felt really good to yell at God! That exasperated encounter broke open a deeper intimacy with Him. It was the first time I allowed myself to pray without showing the ‘cleaned up’ version of myself. I let my guard down. I was raw and vulnerable. I yelled and pleaded. I went above and beyond intercessory prayer and gently asking God for things....I demanded that He show Himself within the chaos of the current state of the world.
Our merciful God longs for us to open up to the deepest and maybe even darkest areas of our hearts. Mental or contemplative prayer is not conformed to one single emotion. God desires our honesty. There is no joy, sorrow, fear, frustration, accomplishment, or intercession that is too big for Him. Trust me, He can handle it all!
Until next time~ your sister in Christ,