It was tough that first year of marriage. Lisa and I were married for 6 months and then moved away from our families in Detroit to pursue ministry in Nashville. We packed all of our stuff into a small U-haul and my dilapidated little Plymouth horizon (that first and second gear was completely stripped out of) and drove to Nashville! I lived here for a month by myself trying to find work and a place to live and then after a month, Lisa joined me. We lived in a bug-infested apartment, slept on sleeping bags and did what we had to in order to make it work. It was hard!
Lisa got a job working in the office at a car dealership and I was selling advertising for a radio station. Money was tight but we were getting by. One day Lisa called me excitedly and asked me to come up to her work because she wanted to show me something. When I arrived there was a 3 cylinder 5 speed Geo Metro pulled up to the parking area. Lisa took me to look at it and pointed out what a great deal it was…As I recall, it only had about 12,000 miles on it, it had air condition (which her vehicle didn’t have) and it was a really nice vehicle for the money…She explained to me that the payment would be $100 a month. I knew what our bills were, and I quickly shot her idea and excitement down with a, “We just can’t afford it Lisa…”
I hated to see her disappointment as she very sweetly looked down and said, “Ok”…
As I drove home, I had one of those moments where God puts you in your place and kicks your butt all at the same time… I heard Him say, “HOW DARE YOU TELL HER NO!…IF YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH TO BELIEVE ME FOR AN EXTRA $100 A MONTH THAT’S ON YOU, BUT DON’T YOU PUT LIMITATIONS ON HER FAITH!”… Yeah, I pretty much felt like a horses butt at that point!
I turned the car around, went back into the dealership and told her, “If you’ve got the faith to believe God for the money to afford this car, I don’t have any right to tell you no on this…” She was so excited…she bought the car and long story short, we never missed a payment…God provided just fine!
That’s a bit of a lengthy intro, but it was necessary to make a point that I’m re-contemplating some 14 years later as it pertains to people, prayer and provision…
I recently wrote a chapter talking about the difficulties that we had when Rocky was born and the life threatening health issues that he faced. As you recall, he had to be placed on a full ventilator to keep him alive. I NEVER knew pain like that… at times the grief was nearly incapacitating. It affected my emotions so adversely that I couldn’t look at pictures from that season or talk about it for over a year…
As his father, I did everything that I knew to do to war against what was transpiring with him. I fasted, I prayed, I had churches around the globe praying, I did everything I could to keep my faith encouraged…It was so hard!
Here’s the kicker, during that season I had two separate friends (who happen to be pastors) call me to check up on me. I spoke with them at length about what I was going through, the battles that Rocky had to overcome, the overwhelming pain that I was feeling…and both of their responses were, lets just say, less than encouraging…as a matter of fact, it bordered on making me mad…“Well Aaron, we are just going to pray that God’s will be done in this situation…”
Pastors, I want you to take very close notice to what I am about to say…and I say it in love and with much compassion in my heart as I write… If you do not have the faith to stand with someone who is hurting, then just don’t speak at all into the situation…People look to their Pastors to offer them hope…We are there to help lead them through difficulties and to encourage them with the Word of God when they are struggling to stand and fight…Don’t be a stumbling block to someone else’s prayers of faith if you do not have the faith to stand with them…
There is no hope or encouragement in the statement “We’ll pray that Gods will be done”… I understand the pressure to “have all the answers” and how we can feel responsible when we tell them what the Word of God says only to have something that no one was expecting to happen, shatter their world…
Understand this, the job of the Pastor is not to make things come to pass, nor is it to make excuse… The Bible says what it says and sometimes we simply cannot explain why things happen the way that they do…it’s OK to say, “I don’t know” if you DON’T KNOW the answer to their question of “why”… But faith in God and His Word is the basis for EVERTHING that we stand on and for as Christian ministers… If we cannot encourage someone who is hurting with the Word, then there needs to be some serious soul searching going on concerning where we stand with it all… If you can’t actually stand as a support, joining your faith together with theirs in a season like the one that I was going through with my son, then here’s a great line that you can use that will keep you from adding insult to injury… “Aaron, we’re praying for you and for your son”… No elaboration needed…
Saying “We are just going to pray that God’s will be done in this situation” implies that we don’t know what the will of God is for that situation… and from a biblical perspective, at least in the case of my son, that’s just not true… God’s Word IS His Will… He put it out there for us to be able to draw from and to be able to offer hope with… It’s not our job to fulfill the Word, it’s our job to invoke it…
My friends didn’t say, “The Word of God is the Will of God” so let’s pray according to the Will of God and believe to see the miracle working hand of Almighty God reach into your circumstances and turn them around… No, on the contrary, with a sad, “I’ve already given up” tone in their voice, it was “Let’s just pray that God’s will be done…”
So many people (pastors included) have experienced faith altering situations where they prayed for something and it didn’t happen the way they prayed…as a result they simply derive that “It must just be God’s will”… I personally don’t agree with that line of thought… In fact, at least in the present text, I think that those words are often used as a simple cop out to keep from admitting that they don’t know or understand…
Personally, I have a bit of a different hypothesis… If the Word of God says something that is not happening the way it says that it should, I think the fallibility/failure rests in my ability to discern something that I am not…The fallibility does not rest on the Word… Like I’ve said in previous chapters, I believe THAT THE WORD IS TRUTH PERIOD! So, either it’s truth or it’s not… but we can’t have it both ways… If something is happening outside of what the bible says, then there is something that I obviously do not know or understand somewhere… That does not make the Word “wrong” it makes my ability to discern the situation properly, possibly flawed somewhere…
I’ve written extensively in previous chapters about “if-then” statements and prerequisites throughout the bible… I contend that there can be a thousand unknowns relating to why things happen a certain way and many times we just won’t know the answers because we are not privy to all of the information surrounding the situation…
On the day I was almost killed, God told me 3 different times that something was wrong and I needed to turn back and go to the Sheriff’s office…Had I died that day, people would have made statements like “God failed Aaron, I know him and how much He loves God and look what happened to him…” Well, the good thing is, I’ve lived to tell you the part of the story that would have never been told if I hadn’t made it…
People’s assumptions would have been derived from only a partial understanding of the facts if I had died… but it’s in the TOTALITY OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES that clarity comes… God was faithful…He tried to warn me… I allowed pride in my ability to handle the situation to trump what God was telling me to do…and I paid a steep price for it…
To get back on track, if someone is hurting and facing an attack and you don’t know what the bible says or what to tell them to encourage them in that season, let me give you a few ideas of things that you could say to actually build up their faith instead of tearing it down…
Isaiah 53:5 (Amplified Bible)
Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment}…
5But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (Amplified Bible)
3For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons.
4For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds,
5[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)
1HE WHO dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].
Psalm 91:10 (Amplified Bible)
10There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.
Psalm 34:7 (Amplified Bible)
7The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe] and each of them He delivers.
2 Timothy 1:7 (New King James Version)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Hebrews 4:12 & 14 (Amplified Bible)
12For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart…14Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]
Proverbs 4:20-22 (Amplified Bible)
20My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.
21Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.
22For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh.
10In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].
11Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.
12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.
13Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].
14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,
15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.
16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.
18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints
1 Peter 2:24 (New King James Version)
24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
John 10:10 (New King James Version)
10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Matthew 10:1 (King James Version)
1And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease
Mark 16:17-18 (Amplified Bible)
17And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages;
18They will pick up serpents; and [even] if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will get well.
James 5:13-16 (New King James Version)
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Psalm 84:11 (Amplified Bible)
11For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
Philippians 4:19 (Amplified Bible)
19And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus
John 14:13-14 (Amplified Bible)
13And I will do [I Myself will grant] whatever you ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], so that the Father may be glorified and extolled in (through) the Son.
14[Yes] I will grant [I Myself will do for you] whatever you shall ask in My Name [as presenting all that I AM].
I could go on and on with these scriptures. The point I am attempting to make is that the Word of God offers hope! You don’t have to have the answers, just give them the Word…It is LIFE to those who find it!
This is on my mind heavily because recently I have been guilty of doing the very thing that I faulted my friends for doing in my case. My friend Steven is going through a very difficult time in his marriage. He asked me to stand in agreement with him for his wife and his family as he is believing for God to restore his marriage.
I’m privy to a lot of the “circumstances” surrounding what is transpiring and from a natural perspective it does not appear that things are going to change. Naturally, I’m concerned for my friends well being and the possibility of him being further devastated by these circumstances not working out…So, during my times of “encouraging him”, occasionally, I have said things like, “But if it doesn’t work out…blah blah blah”…
Well, he didn’t ask me to offer him a “full perspective”… He didn’t ask me to help lighten the blow right now so that he doesn’t get his hopes up and then get hurt more… He asked me to join my faith with his and to pray for/with him as he is fasting and praying and believing God to work a miracle in his marriage…
It would be different if God gave me some kind of Rhema word for him about the situation, or if God enlightened me about something specific that I needed to speak to him about… but that’s not the case… If he asked my thoughts, I would be at liberty to share them…but as the situation stood…I was at fault in how I responded to his circumstances…
While driving down the road recently, God reminded me of how upset I was with my friends who were not there to encourage me and be a strength for me when I needed their support and how their words actually accomplished the dead opposite…as I reflected back and I felt that emotion again, God showed me my role in this current situation and the times that I did the same exact thing in regard to Steven’s current battle…
When I realized this, I immediately called Steven and reiterated to him the story about Rocky and my pastor friends who functioned as Job’s comforters during my season of much needed support… I explained to him how I saw a parallel in my own actions recently concerning him and I apologized to him for being a “sucky friend”… I told him I was out of line and functioning outside of the parameters that he asked me to function in. I then let him know that this was not going to be the case in the future… I told him that I would stand with him and join my faith together with his and pray for the restoration and reconciliation in his family that he is asking God for…for as long as it is in his heart to stand believing…
You see, I KNOW that ALL things are possible to him who believes… Sometimes I just have to get my head to wrap around what my heart already knows… If the Word is the same yesterday, today and forever…Then God is still in the business of performing miracles. So, if my friend is placing his faith in that direction, I’m going to join my faith with his…Regardless of how things appear…Period!
People everywhere are hurting and as Christians, they are going to look to us to offer them the hope that we have in Christ! How we respond in those seasons is vital! We can uplift or tear down by the words of our mouth…the Bible says that “the power of life and death are in the tongue”. It’s important that when we speak to people’s pain, the words we use are LIFE!
When we recognize that the Word of God is LIFE, then we realize that have at our disposal the very tools needed to actually make a difference when ministering to hurting people.
Proverbs 4:20-22 (Amplified Bible)
20My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings.
21Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart.
22For they are LIFE to those who find them…
If you can dig it, Say “Word!”