Relief | Hidden in My Heart

Relief.  It is the very thing I’ve prayed for in my life and the life of so many others.  I’ve pictured it like a hurricane, dancing and swirling around me with fierceness and winds that want to sweep me away.  Lord, will you send relief?  I can barely breathe.  The pain is too much.  It is too hard for me to bear.  I can see this need in others lives too, and so I pray fervently.   

I believe our God is MIGHTY and from my experience of His ministry to my heart in those moments, there is a type of relief.  But often it’s not exactly how I picture it.  It can look more like joy in the midst of sorrow, or comfort in the heartache.  It’s the VERY PRESENCE of the LIVING GOD with me, carrying me.  That relief sustains me.  But too many times, the relief I’m really praying for is an end to my situation, which may not come in my timing.  

When I’m praying for relief, I want to remember something important.  It was a lesson to my heart this past week.  In the book of Exodus, the Pharaoh of Egypt did not want to let the people of Israel, who were enslaved to Egypt, go free.  It took two horrific plagues (the water of the Nile turning to blood and the plague of frogs all over the land) for Pharaoh to make the first of many empty declarations that he would free the people.  When Moses and Aaron cried out to the Lord and the Lord caused the frogs to die, there was finally RELIEF for the Egyptians.  But here’s what happened next:

But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the Lord had said.”  Exodus 8:15 NKJV

Therein lies the danger.  We pray for relief.  We are desperate for it.  We want the pain to cease and to catch our breath from the blows of the trial.  We even plead with God sometimes, “if you will do this, then I promise to do this or that…” But oh, what if the relief will only harden our hearts to the work of God, as it did Pharaoh?  Notice that it was THE REIELF that caused his hardened heart.  We are very susceptible to the hardening of our hearts.  What if the purpose of the pain is to mold us upon the wheel of the Potter and the way He will bring about His purpose is through the ongoing grief caused by various trials (1 Peter 1:6)?  What if relief will only cause us to resume a stagnant life that is no longer as dependent on Him – or worse, cause us to become hardened?  What if there is a bigger picture that we cannot see?  

I do see a tenderness of my heart when I am raw and crying out to God in pain.  There is a noticeable softening.  There is a dependancy.  I want to have that soft heart.  Yet, I don’t especially want the difficulty of the hurricane-like storms and I don’t think I will cease praying for relief when they come.  But I do know this, I have a newly found understanding of the need to guard my heart in the relief.  I relate to Pharaoh.  Relief could be the opposite of what I may really need.  It could even be the opposite of what is needed in the life of those I’m praying for.  I must be careful that I do not demand relief.  I know God’s purpose is beautiful and can be trusted.  And I know we too can glory in tribulations, as James and Peter wrote.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:2-4 NKJV

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ… 1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV

Rather than praying only for relief, may we press into Jesus.  May we see the beauty IN THE STORM and realize all the fullness of HIS GREATNESS and HIS GOODNESS toward us as we trust Him to do His MIGHTY work of love in our lives.  This life is NOT the end.  For those who know and love Jesus, the end is going to be glorious, just you wait and see!  







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