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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

praying for bad things so god can work good

I've heard of some very misguided prayers over the years, but I don't think I've ever heard someone defend them with this kind of logic:

...he told my friend, who has a degenerative eye disease, that he was "Praying more earnestly than I’ve ever prayed in my life that God would destroy the rods and cones in your eyes so that you would go blind and only the sight that God gives you will be able to guide you."

prodigaljohn has the full story. His friend, a pastor, is committing that dastardly sin of planting a new church.

This person who is praying against prodigaljohn's friend evidently believes the pastor suffers from pride and needs to be broken. prodigaljohn considers the roots of the problem:

Sometimes, if you've come to Christ through some tragic circumstance like a death in the family or an all consuming addiction or a specific pit so deep only the light of God could find the bottom, it's tempting to think everyone needs to have that very same experience you had.

So you start to develop this weird kind of "brokenness pride." That sounds completely stupid and impossible, I know, but I think it's true. Or rather it's true of me. A few years ago I made some mistakes that no amount of intelligence or wit or temporary, "I'll do better this time, I can fix this" could remedy. In the midst of that, Christ grabbed hold of me.

And yet somehow I found a way to turn that into pride. I started thinking things like, "That guy hasn't been broken yet. Look how deep my faith is compared to his. He hasn't seen the depths of hurt or darkness I have and is still holding on to things I had to let go of. Maybe someday, he'll get broken like me and experience a real relationship with God."

There's something else that prodigaljohn does not mention. Sometimes brokenness strengthens your faith, and sometimes it weakens your faith. Sometimes you go through such a long slog of hardship that you don't want to go on living, and you wonder whether God has forgotten about you, or whether he just doesn't care. That is brokenness. And if you've ever gone through those depths, you would never wish the experience on your most bitter enemy. You would certainly never expect anyone to end up better for having gone through the experience.

And there's another thing, too. Maybe they've already been there. We don't know what pain and suffering others have experienced, or what they might be experiencing right at this moment. There's no reason to pray for bad things to happen to anyone. This world has enough evil in it already.

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