Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

They forgot what he had done—
the great wonders he had shown them,
the miracles he did for their ancestors…
When the Lord heard them, he was furious.
The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob.
Yes, his anger rose against Israel,
for they did not believe God
or trust him to care for them.
(Psalm 78:11,12a,21,22)

black-and-white-image-of-abstract-fingers-in-michelangelos-style

Some people see God as irked, ticked, and ready to strike. Others see Him as gentle, tender as a prima dona moving about carefully while her fingernail polish dries.

Well…is He mad or not?

Scripture shows us what ticks God off; we get a glimpse of this in Jesus’ life, who is the picture-perfect representation of our Heavenly Father. Let’s start with a look at a Psalmist’s historical account of something that happened after the Lord miraculously delivered the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt.

God had done one marvel after another: He parted the Red Sea and made a way of escape that no one could have believed in their wildest imagination. When they were thirsty in the desert, He mysteriously provided water out of – of all things – a rock. Time after time, even daily, He miraculously supplied sustenance so that they never went either hungry or thirsty living in a desert.

And how did they respond?

They complained. They acknowledged what God had done, yes, but assumed and declared that His power was limited to what they had theretofore experienced. They bound His hands, in a sense. They said, “Yes, I’ll admit He can do A, B, and C. But He is unable to do D. And D is what we really want and need.”

Can you imagine how frustrating that must have been to God?

When believers don’t believe Him, when they don’t expect Him to pull through for Him, when they limit His power to their own subjective experience, that’s when He has every right to be angry.

Jesus was angry following Lazarus’s death. John’s gospel tells us that when He arrived at Lazarus’s house and saw the weeping and wailing, “A deep anger welled up within him.” Later He gently chastised Martha saying, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” It would appear perhaps that Jesus had rehearsed this scene with them before it happened, telling them to hang in there and that all would be made right and beautiful if they stood steadfast in their faith.

Jesus expects us to believe Him, but how many times do we miss a miracle because we give up believing?

God doesn’t get angry at unbelievers who don’t believe; they don’t pretend to! They are at the very least honest. But if you’re a believer, then believe in His love! Believe in His justice! Believe in His ability! Believe in His willingness to help you! Believe in His unlimited power! By doing so, you can avoid His disappointment and, yes, His anger.

Believe, oh believer!

Or else, let’s think of something else to define our faith-identity: instead of a Firm Believer, perhaps we need label ourselves Fickle or Fake or Flimsy Believers!

Believers believe!

Still, sometimes they pray this plain and simple prayer:

Father,

Help me in my unbelief!

Amen

Photo credit: Foter.com

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