I was grousing to God about my problems the other day and he answered me through a classic devotional I read every morning called “Streams in the Desert.” It was compiled by a missionary’s wife in the early part of the last century as her husband lay dying for seven years. Perhaps this excerpt will speak to your situation as well:
“We do not know what we ought to pray for…” (Rom. 8:26).
Much that bothers us in our Christian experience are really answers to prayers. We pray for patience, and our Father sends those who bug us the most, “because…suffering produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3).
We pray for unselfishness and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice ourselves by thinking of others and giving up our lives for them (Philippians 2: 3-18)
We pray for strength and humility, and “a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7) is sent to torment us. Or we are asked to do something we think is beneath us, or we are unjustly accused and no one listens to our defense. We then lie on the ground pleading with God to remove that thorn. But he says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Corinthians 12:9)
We pray, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5) and money disappears, our kids get sick or disobedient, or some unknown trial comes along where we have to exercise faith like never before.
We pray for gentleness, and there comes a perfect storm of temptation to be harsh or irritable.
We pray for quietness and immediately, every nerve is tested to the limit so that we may learn that the only peace we have is in Jesus (John 14:27).
We pray to be more loving and God sends us obnoxious, irritating people, letting them say unkind things that cut to the heart. He does this because “love is patient, love is kind…it is not rude…it is not easily angered…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-5; 7-8)
Yes, we pray to be like Jesus and God’s answer is: “I have tested you in the fiery furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10); “Will your courage endure or your hands be strong?” (Ezekiel 22:14); “Can you drink the cup?” (Matthew 20:22)
The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance and every trial, as straight from the hands of a loving Father, and that every one of our problems is lovingly and divinely appointed by Him.
So, pray up or shut up.