The Right Question
Brothers, what shall we do? Acts 2:37
God, why won’t you remove this problem from my life? Why don’t you fix this? Most of us who have struggled with some trial have prayed this way. We believe in God and we know that we’re supposed to ask him for help when we need it. So, we pray for deliverance . . . and we get nothing. Maybe it’s an addiction or maybe it’s something completely different: anxiety, financial troubles, or family conflict. Whatever it is, that thing makes us miserable and so, we go to God, asking him to remove it.
I did this in my own addiction. I knew the stories of Jesus’ healing and I was told by other Christians that he would heal me. So, I prayed, asking God to take away my addiction. God, would you take away my appetite for drugs? If you do, I promise I’ll change my behavior. As it turns out, I was asking the wrong question.
Today’s passage illustrates my error. When Peter shared the gospel of Christ to his audience on the day of Pentecost, those listening were moved by the Spirit. They wanted in this new life Peter described and together, they cried out, Brothers what shall we do? They didn’t ask what God could do for them. They understood that Peter was calling them to action, and they responded appropriately. Brothers, what shall we do?
This is the right question. For me, it was only when I finally began asking what God wanted me to do with my addiction, that he began to transform me. It was only when I became willing to be obedient to his will, instead of following my own, that life started to turn around. For years, I asked God to change my appetite, promising that I would then change my behavior. Again, I had it all backwards. Repentance meant a radical change in my behavior – even when I didn’t feel like it – which then led to God transforming my appetite.
If we’re stuck in some repeated failure, if we’ve prayed a thousand times for God to take it away, and gotten nowhere, we must ask this question honestly. God, what do you want me to do? If we’ve failed repeatedly, it’s not because we’ve tried too hard. It’s because we’ve not truly been obedient to God’s will. Often, God only transforms us when we radically obey him.