Clinging to Christ
Questions often flood our minds when we face long seasons of unanswered prayer. Doubts of God’s goodness and loving care can overwhelm our hearts. In times of pain or even in the dragging routine of daily life, we can easily question whether God is even present.
Mary’s story provides a refreshing perspective in light of these realities. Her simple trust in the Lord speaks strongly of the profound promises of God.
Unanswered prayers in Mary’s life carry “why” questions like heavy baggage. No sensible answer seems to neatly wrap up the reason why the Lord did not give her the children she desired or took away the little ones in her womb. Complex pain cannot be answered simply. Mary reflects on the struggle between knowing what God says in His Word and facing painful realities in this life. I know the verses, “His ways are not my ways,” and the truths that I can’t see the whole picture, that we know the end of the story – being with Him, just not what’s in between – and that He wants what’s best for me. I understand all that. But when you’re dealing with a long-term unanswered prayer, sometimes those things don’t bring comfort.
The simple truth that Mary has held onto during seasons of pain, loss, and confusion, is the reality of her basic and necessary need to depend upon Christ. I can’t push Him away because prayers aren’t answered, because there is no “pushing.” I don’t want to live without Him! I know I can’t live without Him now because I’ve lived with Him … that’s dependency.
The richness of knowing Christ increases our constant awareness that we cannot live apart from Him, that our lives are meaningless without Him. Dependence is rooted in the person of Christ, not in the good things we are given or not given.
Knowing the answers, understanding the reason why is not what Mary seeks. Maybe it comes with age too, but I just rest in the fact that He knows. Not wanting to live in anger at God for unanswered prayer and unresolved pain, Mary knows that she can trust the person and nature of Christ. When you go through those tough situations, it’s clinging to His promises – He doesn’t leave us, He doesn’t forsake us.
Our daily routine and the mundane tasks of life also invite us to depend on the Lord and walk in obedience to Him. Though life’s circumstances may feel bland or dry at times, God has brought Mary to rejoice in the fruit of His Spirit that comes to life as we walk in obedience. The truth is that in clinging to Christ and abiding in Him, we receive joy and peace, etc. in the Holy Spirit. It took me a long time to realize, but just as I grab onto Him, grab onto His hand, I grab onto joy, even in the midst of the craziness. The fruit of joy and peace that we so desperately desire in times of pain and suffering are found in Christ.
In the midst of a physical illness, Mary remembers asking the Lord to lift her burden of worry and anxiety. In answering her prayer, the Lord indeed replaced her worry for joy and reassurance with the reality that I’m your Father.
It wasn’t God saying to me, “Everything’s gonna be fine and be joyful because of the situation.” It was joyful because I was in His hands. I don’t go around whistling and singing – I am grabbing on, I’m grabbing on … and saying yes.
The beautiful freedom found in depending upon Christ is rooted in knowing Him and saying “yes” to Him. Painful circumstances will linger, dry seasons will creep into our lives, but the release of our doubts and worry comes as we cling to Christ and the promises He has declared in His Word.
I know what it’s like to live with Him, so I don’t want to live without Him.