How to Move Beyond the Pain
From the series Rebuilding Your Broken World
What do you do when you get stuck in your pain and it seems like a vicious cycle with no end in sight? You want to get through it God's way, but you're stuck. You just don't know how! Chip shares what the Bible has to say about moving through the pain and rediscovering the joy, available even now, through God's grace.
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About this series
Rebuilding Your Broken World
Life is full of adversity and pain. Either through stress, pressure, unfortunate circumstances, or bad decisions, many of us find ourselves living in a world that has fallen apart. This series found in James 1 is designed to help you begin where you're at in order to rebuild your broken world. Whether it is redefining how you view God and life's trials or how to respond to discouragement or temptations, this study gives the solution to find healing and restoration in broken relationships and difficult circumstances.More from this series
Jerry was a young college football star. He was big, fast, and powerful. Jerry had this take-no-prisoner attitude. Star was written all over where he was headed long term. Jerry was a nominal Christian and probably wasn’t in the right part of town exactly. He was in a major city, and as he was walking by outside of a bar, a fight broke out. Two guys come out. A crowd gathers around. One guy pulls a knife. Jerry’s big and strong. The one guy has the knife, and he just was gonna do his good deed for the day.
Jerry grabs the guy who had the knife and turns him around and breaks up the fight thinking “I’m really doing a good thing.” The next thing Jerry hears is “boom, boom,” and in searing pain laying in a pool of blood and two bullets are lodged in the bottom of his spinal cord because what he didn’t know was why the fight started. Although he saw the one guy with the knife and thought “I need to break this up,” he didn’t know the other guy had a gun. Jerry’s reward for his good deed was two bullets in the back of his spine.
Now, I don’t wanna tell you that every close friend I’ve had in the world ends up paralyzed. But I will just tell you that when I think of going through a broken world experience, I just can’t fathom anything more difficult than having your whole world turned upside down and not being able to walk.
Jerry’s world was broken. His dreams were dashed. Football was gone. Walking was gone. As far as he was concerned, his future was gone. Because he saw someone in need and tried to do a good deed, Jerry’s world was broken. I think if anyone sort of had a right to say “Why me?” I think Jerry could have. “Hey God, why me? You know what? I wasn’t in the bar drinking. I wasn’t in the fight. I tried to save someone’s life, and this is reward I get.”
Jerry’s a very interesting guy, and Jerry learned very quickly that when your world falls apart, don’t ask why very long. Jerry took that tough-minded focus, athletic attitude and said, as he went through rehab, as he went through multiple surgeries, “I’m not gonna be a victim. I’m not gonna be a victim. I’m gonna make it through this.” So Jerry decided to follow what the Lord says in James 1: to consider it all joy when he encountered a various trial, knowing the testing of his faith would produce endurance and that he would allow endurance to have its perfect result that he might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Jerry answered those three questions that we talked about in our last session.
Question No. 1: What can I control? Jerry said, “My attitude. In rehab I’ll said no whining, no complaining, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m gonna make it through this.”
Question No. 2: What must I do to make it through today? Endure. Jerry had been on weight-training programs. He’d pushed the sled. He was a football star, and he brought that attitude and “I’m gonna make it.” He was lifting weights in rehab. He decided he’d build his upper body like it’s never been before. He’s gonna endure.
Third question is: What hope do I have for tomorrow? Jerry’s a nominal Christian. He’s not in the Bible very much. He honestly doesn’t know God very well, and knowing that God in his goodness and his sovereignty would take Jerry’s worst situation and turn it out for his best is where Jerry got stuck. Jerry was tough. His own admission was, “I think I tried to prove to the world that I can get through this. I believed in God. I decided I wouldn’t feel sorry for myself. I remotely believe He was in control and somehow allowed it, but I didn’t let my mind go there very long.”
He said, “Then once I got to the part of God’s gonna take the worst in my life and turn it for my good,” he said, “Chip, you can read those passages about Joseph in the Old Testament until you're blue in the face and you can tell me stories about other people.” But he said, “I don’t see it. I’m stuck. What do I do? I didn’t pay a lot of attention at school. You know what I’m good at? I’m good at athletics. I can’t walk. What kind of job am I gonna have? I don’t know if I can finish school.”
What do you do when you get to that point where you want to do it God’s way, where you want to follow what he says in rebuilding your broken world. You wanna have the attitude of considering it all joy. You wanna let endurance have its perfect result. You wanna allow this to happen. But in your situation you're saying, “Okay, I choose to do that. I’m gonna hang on for today but how? So what’s the future look like?”
Teaching on this passage and had a guy come to me about four or five days later and he said, “I really appreciate that passage out of James 1.” I said good. Pastors, we like to hear those good reports that God’s using his Word. He said, “I got a problem.” I said what’s that? He said, “I’m considering it joy.” I said good. He said, “I’m enduring. I’m hanging in there day by day, right?” He said, “But I’m still unemployed so what do I do? I wanna have a good attitude. I wanna endure, but I gotta pay my bills. I’m still unemployed” or my wife and I are still separated. Or you know what? I’ve got a good attitude and I’m enduring, but you know something? This biopsy report? There’s no genies and fairies that went in and turned it from a positive into a negative. I still have cancer. How specifically in my world today do I live that way? What does God want me to do? How do I make it through specifically? Not in general, not in concept, not in “spiritually”? How am in going to cooperate with God’s process. I don’t know what to do.
That’s what we’re gonna talk about because I believe God absolutely understands that when we have a broken world experience that most of us are gonna get stuck, and most of us are not going to know pragmatically what do you do because many of you prayed some very honest prayers and shared some deep things in small groups. But I’m just guessing unless someone got a phone call early this morning no one’s circumstances changed in the last 12 hours, right? No one just snaps a magic wand and someone wired you outrageous amounts of money. Doctors didn’t call and say “We made a mistake.” A child didn’t call and say “Hey, I’ve had this lousy attitude for you for ever and ever and ever. I’m sorry. I’ve repented. You think we could have Thanksgiving together?” [Laughter]
Your world’s about the same and the question is, I’m committed to considering it all joy. I’m not gonna bail out on God’s process. I wanna cooperate with it, but what’s it look like? We’re not alone because that is exactly what the spirit of God tells Jesus’ brother to tell the church in that day.
Notice verse 5, coming out of let endurance have it’s perfect result, “that you may be perfect and complete but” – in your notes would you circle that word but – “if any of you asks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man expect that he’ll receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man unstable in all his ways.”
In the Greek New Testament there’s a number of different ways to show contrast. This little word for “but” is as strong as it gets. Now consider it all joy, endure, let endurance have its result. But just in case it’s hard, just in case you don’t know what to do, if anyone needs wisdom – and the word for wisdom we’re gonna learn here in just a second. This is the practical knowledge of knowing what to do in your life situation.
What we’re gonna find in this passage is that God understands that we get stuck or he wouldn’t have put this verse right after, you know? God promises 100 percent of the time in this passage God will tell you what to do. He will tell you exactly what to do. He told Jerry what to do and I can’t wait to tell you the end of that story. He will tell you what to do. If you don’t know how to move through being stuck in your pain, God will tell you. He promises 100 percent of the time. But he also says there’ll be a condition, and if you do not fulfill that condition, he will not tell you.
So let’s break out this passage and look at it a little bit more closely. God’s offer is supernatural wisdom. Write down that word. It’s what’s called a first-class condition in the Greek language. That means it’s assumed to be true. In other words, when James is writing to this group of people, they're scattered. They're away from homes. There’s financial loss. There’s relational loss. There’s persecution. He says consider it all joy, and they're going, “Yeah, give me a break, James.” Hey, not only that but endure. “Oh, James, easy for you to say back there in Jerusalem.”
But he’s assuming they don’t know how to pragmatically do it. “But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” As I said, the word “wisdom” here is not intellectual. This is the first book written in the New Testament. The early church is almost completely Jewish, and James is speaking with that Jewish idea of wisdom. Wisdom in the New Testament is not cognitive intellectual knowledge.
Wisdom is the ability to have the knowledge and understanding of an insight to put into practice doing life God’s way. Wisdom would be understanding what God says about finances and then knowing in the real world how to operate your finances that way. Wisdom would be understanding what God says about how to raise kids or about how to be married and cooperating with that and putting it into practice. In fact, the word wisdom, remember when they're building the temple. God talks about giving someone skill or ability? It’s the same word. It’s actually the skill to do life God’s way.
So he says consider it all joy and they're going, “Hello? Are you kidding?” He says if you don’t know how, if you need wisdom, then God offers supernatural wisdom but notices, he says, our responsibility is to ask. There’s about four different words in the New Testament for prayer. This is a very interesting word for prayer. It has the idea of asking for a specific request.
There’s a word for prayer that has prayer in general. There’s a word for prayer that has a sense of intercession or standing in the gap. This is coming to God and asking for a specific gift. Let me ask of God. It’s in the present tense so it’s the idea of you habitually talking to God and saying, “I’m trying to endure. I’m having a hard time enduring today. All these bad attitudes are coming up. This resentment is coming up and I’m struggling and I don’t know what to do today. I don’t know how to spend my time, how to spend my money. I don’t know how to relate to that phone call and that message that came in because it’s causing really bad feelings to come inside. What do I do?”
God says, “I will give you the wisdom 100 percent of the time to know exactly what to do in the circumstance, the situation, this relationship or this health report. If you come – and literally the idea is come – and it’s a picture of wisdom is along with God, and God wants to generously give to his children the insight and the practical application of knowing what to do.
Prayer is the primary tool in growing through adversity. Prayer is the primary tool in growing through adversity. It is amazing to me if I didn’t just do it myself that when we’re in a jam, and we don’t know what to do, our first inclination is to pick up the phone and call another person. Our second inclination is to go have coffee with someone and become a victim and tell them how terrible it is to try and get someone to feel sorry for us.
If none of that starts working, most of us will pay – and rightfully so and I would say wisely – anywhere from $100 to $150 to go talk to someone who’s an absolute stranger, to pay them to listen to what’s going on in your life 'cause you're stuck to get help about how to get unstuck. By the way, I think in many cases that’s the best $150 you’ll ever spend. But isn’t it interesting that we’ll get on the phone. We’ll go to a coffee shop or find a good therapist before we go to the Therapist, the Counselor?
Now, I think you probably ought to end up talking with a friend. I think sharing in an appropriate way at a coffee shop may be one of the greatest things you ever do, and I think there’s time where the smartest, best, wisest thing God will tell you is go to a good Christian therapist or talk to a pastor or a wise counselor.
But God says the first place to go is him. “Ask of me if any man lacks wisdom” it doesn’t say go read a self-help book. “If any man lacks wisdom” it doesn’t say go to a seminar. “If any man lacks wisdom” it doesn’t say go to a therapist. “If any man lacks wisdom ask of me.” Who do you come to? “Who gives to all men generously and without reproach.”
I’m gonna turn back the clock way back for you so you’ll have to bear with me. I did not grow up in a Christian home. My wife didn’t grow up in a Christian home. Our family origins, my dad was a hardcore ex-Marine, went into the Marines at 16. Her dad was in the war, and a lot of hard difficult things happened to those men.
Our fathers eventually both became alcoholics, not the kind of raging guys who weren’t home, who were never around, but Mabel Black Label – some of you remember what that was. I remember my dad drinking a couple cases of beer on Saturday morning and afternoon and going to the bar every afternoon till dinner, and then eventually he didn’t come home, and remember the big pressure in our life that occurred through that. Then my dad eventually quit drinking, later became a Christian and is a neat guy who lives in North Carolina now.
But I didn’t grow up in a Christian home and if you do the research in the psychology, there’s some dynamics that happen in alcoholic families, so she’s got hers and I got mine. Now I meet Theresa, and she’s been through some really, really painful times that made her a very, very Godly woman, so she loves God more than any person I’ve ever met. I wanna be around her because when I get around her, I wanna love God more. I’m kind of zealous, and at that point in my life, I just thought this is what I wanna do with my life. I love God with all my heart and she loves God with all her heart, and we just love each other and we don’t have a clue about relationships. [Laughter]
So I wisely knowing that you don’t want too many transitions – we get married, and within six months get in a Ryder truck, leave everybody that we know, give a car away, load up the one car, and go to Dallas without a job. I’m supposed to be in school fulltime, so I work fulltime, go to school fulltime since we’ve had all these years to adjust to our marriage and ... [Laughter]
The first two years of our marriage, the first six weeks were really wonderful. [Laughter] Then all that junk starts bubbling up, and all I can tell you, our testimonies are we didn’t know how to communicate, and we didn’t know how to resolve anger. I love her with all my heart and she makes me absolutely nuts. She loves me with all her heart and I’m making her nuts.
We’re now about a year and a half or two years preparing for ministry, and it’s just like you have these two days where you don’t talk to one another, and you do that stuff where you're lying in bed and you're facing this wall and she’s facing this wall. You're thinking I’m not really sure this is the model of marriage that we wanna communicate to the world, and I’m stuck.
At the time I remember being in a little small group with a fellow who became just an amazing mentor in my life for the past 25 years, Howard Hendricks, and we were studying James chapter 1. For the first time I understood what that passage meant, “if any man lacked wisdom” and we’ll talk about just in a minute. The condition is so important, but I learned the condition and so I prayed a prayer. I said, “God, show me what to do. I’m asking of you for wisdom.” I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried. I’ve read a couple books and I went and I’m learning how to counsel these other people, this pastoral marriage counseling class. I need it more than anybody else.
I’m going to this class and a fellow named Paul Meier who it used to be the Meier Minirith Clinics and I think now emerged into New Life Clinics, a great group of people. I’m sitting in a class, and this guy is describing, “You know, many families come of this family of origin like this, da, da, da, and others come like this. When these kind of people get married, there’s often major problems in these, these, these.” I’m thinking this guy’s got little crystal ball and Theresa called earlier this morning, and someone faxed my life history. He’s describing my life, her life and what happens when you come together.
So being the bold, Godly, humble man that I was, I waited until the entire room cleared out ... [Laughter] “Excuse me, Dr. Meier, do you think we could have a minute?” Sure, Chip. I said, “Where did you get that information?” [Laughter] He said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Man, you described me. You described my wife. You described our families. You described our junk.” He leaned back and smiled. He said, “Chip, this is so typical of so many families that I wasn’t thinking of you at all.” I said, “Well, you're pretty good on the diagnosis side. Like do you have any solutions for people like this?”
He leaned back and he said, “You know what? Why don’t you and your wife come in, and I’ll give you a test that’ll give me a little inventory. I’ll interview you guys.” We did. We went back and met with him again, and he kind of smiled and he said, “You know something? God’s gonna use you in married couples. He’s preparing you. He’s forgiven you. He loves you. These are not really big issues. In 12 to 15 sessions, actually, my brother’s a counselor down at the clinic. I’ll give you the student rate, you know, $85 to $95 ... [Laughter] In 12 to 15 sessions, we’ll teach you how to communicate, resolve anger. It’ll be the best money you ever invested.”
I’m making $1,000 a month in my part-time job and going to school fulltime, and it came back to me that prayer I prayed. God, show me what to do. Back then it was like you got leprosy if you had to go to counseling. [Laughter] Sunglasses, trench coat, you know.
So I’m sitting in this waiting room in counseling looking at all these people in this waiting room thinking every person is looking thinking, “I wonder what’s wrong with him.” [Laughter] What it was, it was so humbling, and I didn’t have the money. I wanted to say, “Well we’re quick studies. We can do it in 12.” It probably took us 16 sessions. It is absolutely the best money I ever spent in my life.
You know what? We didn’t have some big, insurmountable issues that could never be solved, but you know what? We didn’t know that. We didn’t have the practical ability to apply the truth of marriage in our relationship because of the baggage that we both had. To get unstuck the wisdom of God was to talk to a professor. Then it was to humble ourselves, and then it was to spend some money we didn’t have that somehow we ended up paying all of our bills. In 12 to 15 or 18, sessions, I can’t remember and I would exaggerate one way or the other. I cannot tell you how many couples we’ve counseled over the years and helped them get unstuck because that was the wisdom of God.
This is like a childhood story. I’m eight, nine years old and I don’t know. I don’t think Home Depot or Lowe’s or those kind of places even existed when I was that young. But my mom and dad on Saturday afternoons went and did something for three or four hours. Who knows? Errands and there’s three of us kids and my sister’s four years older, and so she was supposed to be in charge, which was a joke.
So we’d invite all of our friends and we played hide and seek. I loved to play hide and seek, but the only thing better than hide and seek, I loved to win every time. I figured a way to win every single time. Now, it’s a small, little ranch house because my parents are both school teachers and they don’t make very much money. It doesn’t have a garage, but if you can imagine a little ranch house. It has a little carport, flat with a couple poles like this. The house is right here so the bathroom with the bathroom window’s right there.
We would all get together and count, hide and seek, hide and seek, and I made sure they saw me run into the house so they know I’m in the house. As soon as I’d get into the house, I’d wait and I’d go to the bathroom. Then there was the tub, the soap dish and a little window. Climb in the tub, up on the soap dish, out the little window, hide in the bush, wait for everyone to come, jump back through the window, come back through. Ha, ha! I win every time. I just thought I was so smart.
Now, the muddy footprints of my tennis shoes were a tipoff to my mother that on a Saturday afternoon some things were happening at our house that she didn’t approve of. So she didn’t tell me once. She didn’t tell me twice. She didn’t tell me three times – 15, 20, 25 – “Chip, I’m just telling you. That soap dish is gonna break. When we’re gone, I don’t want you in the bathroom. I don’t want you doing that.” So what I learned is after hide and seek if you went and wiped it all off, your mother would never find out. Can you see where this story’s gonna go? [Laughter]
We’re playing hide and seek. Onto here, up to the soap dish and I go like this. The soap dish comes out. The tile comes out. Part of the wall is in the bathtub. [Laughter] I’m thinking just my first thought, “Should I go with the electric chair, lethal injection?” I’m not in a little trouble. I’m done. My dad’s an ex-Marine, and all he had to do was kind of look like this, and that’s back in the days when you really messed up where your dad walked down the hall with the belt going [belt sound] you know? [Laughter]
Now I’m waiting and thinking I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead. I’m down doobie down down dead. I just closed the lid of the great throne and I sat on it and looked at all the rubble and I just bawled like a baby. About five minutes later, I hear the car pull in. [Whimpering]
I’m starting to shake and it was instinctive, I thought maybe a good offense is better than a really bad defense. I hear the door open, the screen. I can still visualize it. They're both in here. I run down the hall, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Dad, Dad, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know you told me [babbling]. I did the bathroom and the thing and [babbling].” I’m distraught. Calm down, calm down and sit in your little chair. She gets the whole story. Now I’m waiting. I’m waiting for the ax to fall.
The other thing at eight-nine you go through is not only do you not obey, but I learned to become a perpetual liar. Remember when your kids went through this phase where it’s so easy 'cause when it works. You lie and you don’t get in trouble. You lie and you don’t get in trouble. I was getting really good at lying.
She was working on that. As I just shared the burdens of my heart and look up at my father watching that belt being loosened. [Laughter] My mom’s emotional intelligence, realized that the consequences have already been there. She got down on one knee and she makes eye contact like that and she says, “Chip, what did you do wrong?” I went through and owned it. “What did I tell you?” Well, okay, I did that. “Now, Chip, let me ask you a question.” Okay. “Did you come and tell me the truth?” Uh-huh. “Have we been working on telling the truth?” Yeah. Then she put her arms around me and she hugged me and she looked back in my eyes and she said, “Chip, of course there’s consequences and I’m glad you have a paper route and you mow lawns, and we’ll get this bathroom taken care of. But I wanna tell you I am so proud of you to come and tell me the truth.”
Then my dad that belt seems to be still on his little waist, and I think he caught a different spirit happening here, and so he ends up down with her and my two parents hug me. I gotta tell you it was the most powerful experience of not wanting to lie. It broke the power of lying because I came to a father and mother who were generous and without reproach.
What you need to hear is that some of you are so beating yourself up and you're so fearful of what God’s gonna bring up that you don’t really come honestly and you really don’t own where you're at. God is near to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Jot in the corner of your notes Psalm 51. I believe this was David’s experience. David realized it was murder. It was adultery. When he came he says, “If burnt offerings, if sacrifice is what you wanted? I would’ve brought it.” But what does he say? “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,” and then he talks about, “He will never cast out those” and he uses the same word, “who come with a broken spirit, a crushed heart and a broken spirit.”
When you are in your pain you're never as honest as when you're desperate. You're never as honest when you feel so overwhelmed. You’ll never be closer to God when you come and you just say, “I deserve the riot act. I deserve whatever consequences. I bring nothing to the table. There’s no manipulation left. You see it all. I need mercy.” When God sees that in your heart, you always get wisdom generously, lavishly poured out with not an ounce of reproach.
Where do you think my mom learned that? Where do you think my mom knew whaling on me would’ve really not produced. Her gentleness broke the lying spirit in my heart, her unconditional love. Isn’t there a Bible verse that goes something like that? It’s the kindness of the Lord that leads us to what? Repentance. What’s repentance? Repentance is a complete change of mind, of thinking, that leads to a completely different set of actions and behaviors.
God wants you to know is it hard to consider it all joy? Absolutely. Is it tough to endure? Sometimes you don’t think you can make it another second. Is it tough to cooperate with that enduring process so he’s building in you and through you what he wants? Yes. But if you don’t know what the next step is in that relationship or that circumstance, ask of me and I will give you wisdom generously and without reproach.
I can tell something right now in the room that just happens and then when you speak where the spirit of God is having such liberty in your hearts. Some of you are just telling me, “You mean God would do that for someone like me?” The answer is yes. But here’s the deal. There’s a condition and we need to cover the condition because what I just described does not happen all the time for everyone. What I just described happens when you come fulfilling this one condition so let’s look at the condition.
“But let him ask in faith without any doubting for the one who doubts is like the surf driven and tossed. Let not that man expect that he’ll receive anything from the Lord.” The one condition is that you ask in faith without any doubting. God promises 100 percent of the time when you come and you ask in faith without any doubting, he’ll always tell you exactly what to do. So the two questions that it raises for me is what does it mean to ask in faith? What’s it mean without any doubting?
To ask in faith means believing or trusting to the point that you have confidence in God’s character and God’s Word to the point of acting on his promises. If you have a coin in your pocket, you can reach in and feel it. So often we separate these things. On one side of the coin it says faith. You flip over the coin. It says obedience. Biblical faith is believing God to the point you trust his goodness, his character and his promises. You believe God to the point that you obey. Biblical faith is not I intellectually agree that God says this is what I ought to do, and that’s really a nice thought. I believe that. James 2 says what? The demons believe in theological correctness and shudder. So just believing the right thing intellectually is not the issue. It’s believing to the point that God says this. I’m gonna act on it.
This phrase, what’s it mean “without any doubting”? The word “doubt” here literally means without judgment or without wavering. This is not the honest intellectual doubting like I wonder if the Dead Sea Scrolls are really quite as old as people are saying. Or I’ve got this doubt about this one issue, about this biblical text because I don’t understand it. This is not the kind of doubting that you find in Mark chapter 9 where someone wants to follow the Lord and says, “Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.” This isn’t the honest yearning of doubting.
The word and the concept here is a doubting that he explains later. This is a doubting that has to do with a divided loyalty. He says the person who doubts like this will be what? A double-minded. You might circle that word. It’s a compound Greek work “di” like two, like divide, and we get our word “psyche” or “psuche”. It means to be double-souled or divided loyalty. We get our idea of schizophrenia here, and what it’s really saying is this: When you come to God, you're gonna ask in faith. Lord, I believe that you’ll show me, and when you show me, I’m gonna step out. But without doubting means when you show me, I’m telling you in advance I will do whatever you say.
I like kind of what I call the blank check illustration. If you want wisdom from God, imagine a blank check and imagine the top of the check is God, I don’t know what to do in this marriage. I’m considering it all joy, but it’s lousy. God, I don’t know what to do about this health issue. God, I don’t know what to do about my work situation. You know, the top of the check is what you want God to fill in.
This kind of prayer is you sign your name on the bottom of the check, and then you take the check and you go over to the throne room. There’s a door and inside is the throne room of God and the light’s coming out from under the door. And the throne room of grace, here’s where you find mercy in time of need. You take the check and you just slide it under the door, and your name is signed on the bottom. You say to God, “I don’t know what to do in this marriage. I don’t know what to do with this child. I don’t know what to do with this job. I don’t know about this big decision, but I’m signing my name on the bottom and I’m giving it to you, and whatever you write on the top of the check I’ll do.” God says you must commit to fill in the bottom of the check before he will fill in the top of the check, and that’s the condition to getting his wisdom.
I wrote out the prayer of a person who’s double-minded and the prayer of what I believe is double-minded. Expect this person not to receive anything from the Lord. I’ve prayed a lot of these kind of prayers. I’m usually not this honest.
Dear God, please show me your will. Give me your wisdom. Let me know exactly what I need to do to endure and fulfill your will in my life in this desperate difficult situation so I can consider that as one of my options and decide if I wanna do it. [Laughter] That’s a double-minded prayer. God, I really wanna know exactly from on high, the all-knowing, all-powerful Sovereign, good God of the universe, show me exactly what I should do 'cause I’d like to consider that like a salad bar. That looks good. I’ll let you know later. I’ll get back with you.
God says when you pray that way oh God, show me what to do. Then he says, “Go to counseling.” Okay, I guess God’s not speaking very loudly today. [Laughter]
Oh God, show me what to do. “Humble yourself and ask them to forgive you for your part.” Oh boy, the lines sure are kind of messed up and busy. He couldn’t want me to do that.
God, show me what to do. “Own the five percent of your marriage problem that you think you have. Now triple it. You go get help whether your mate is willing to or not. Forgive him.” What? “Forgive him. Don’t ever say another negative word about him anymore. That’s wisdom.” But you don’t understand. He walked out on me. We had three kids. We got ...
The prayer that God promises to answer is “Dear God, please show me you will. Give me your wisdom so I can know exactly what I need to do to endure and fulfill your will for my life. I tell you in advance that whatever you show me I commit to do regardless of how hard it may appear.”
I prayed that prayer and God’s answer to me was a professor saying, “You need to go get counseling.” What? You don’t understand. I’m one of the most arrogant, self-conscious people you’ve ever met. You don’t understand. I don’t have the money. You don’t understand. If Theresa would just shape up, this thing would work out. [Laughter]
But I asked God and he showed me. By the way, when he shows you, you might as well just turn off the receiver because if you don’t obey that one, you don’t get anything else. Why should God give you more counsel about what to do when you don’t obey. What’d Jesus say? When you respond to the light or the truth that he gives you, the promise? More light. When you fail to respond to the truth that he gives you, even what you have will be taken away. We don’t take those verses seriously.
There’s people that God has shown “do this” and they are in rebellion. They get up and read their little devotionals and read a few verses and go through motions and get involved in little ministries. You know what? God’s just going, “You know something. Hey, Gabriel, when this person wakes up, they’ll get to my power and my reality and work this thing.” It is easy to religious, isn’t it, and be totally missed from God.
Isn’t this a great promise from him? Isn’t it a little scary, too?
Jerry prayed that prayer. He told God, “About all I’ve ever done is be an athlete. It’s all I ever wanted to do.” God said, “You know what, Jerry? I made you to do that. You just really didn’t kind of get how it works.” Jerry got really strong upper body strength. Wish I could tell you the whole story, but I can tell you that Jerry has at least one or two gold medals with the wheelchair basketball team from the United States. He became a world class marathon wheelchairer.
He said, “The greatest moment of my life was in Atlanta at the Olympics where I saw on this huge mega-jumbo screen here during the Olympics, and they lined up, and I was representing the United States of America in the decathlon for those in wheelchairs and my picture is up there.”
Jerry traveled the world with Johnny Erickson Tada sharing with people how a good and Sovereign God could allow two bullets in your back to change the star football career into a life of incredible eternal impact. Now, I’d like to tell you it’s all just a warm, fuzzy great story. I think he had over 20 surgeries. He married a gal that had amazing medical problems. This is no exaggeration – had probably 25 infections over the years, and I did Jerry’s funeral years later.
What’s God saying to you and me? He says four things you must do to get unstuck. No. 1, are you ready for this? Admit you're stuck. No. 2, admit you can’t do it on your own. That was the big one for Jerry. I wish you could talk to Jerry 'cause Jerry just said, “I couldn’t give God any room. For years I’m not a victim. I’ll do it.” That was part of that athletic mentality that God had to humble. Third, ask God for supernatural wisdom. And fourth, be willing to do whatever God’s wisdom demands of you even if he says get help, even if he says get out of debt, even if he says forgive him, forgive her, let it go, even if he says confront the situation, even if he says join AA or 12 Step or Celebrate Recovery, even if he says stop being busy, even if he says take 10 days off, even if he says for the next year the first 20 minutes of every day 10 minutes in the Bible, 10 minutes talking with me, even if he says break that habit and addiction, even if he says go to that person and say “I’m sorry,” even if he says sell your home, downsize, move out of that area and get out of that unholy, ungodly relationship, even if he says quit your job, even if he says get real, quit hiding and quit pretending, even if he says join a small group and let people into your life, even if he says just cease striving and know that I’m God. Are you willing to do whatever God shows you? His promise is he will show you.