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What Good is Faith if You Won’t Do What I Want?

What Good is Faith if You Won’t Do What I Want?

Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” Exodus 5:22-23

In our weekly jail Bible study, we always ask the guys if they have any prayer requests. The simplest prayer is this – God, get me out of here. They’ve got an upcoming court date and they don’t want to go to prison. As the guys sit and think about their lives though, there often comes this turning point when they begin to pray like this instead – God, you know what I want, but if I need to go to prison to change, then so be it. I want your will, not mine. It’s a profound transition when an inmate begins to pray for God’s will instead of his own. Still, there are those who’re mad at God because he hasn’t gotten them out of jail. If God won’t answer my prayers, then what good is faith?

I’ve been there. In my addiction, I prayed for instant removal of my self-destructive appetite. I didn’t get it. When my life fell apart due to my opioid diversion, I prayed for miraculous protection from consequences. Still, I lost my job and had to go to treatment. I was mad at God. If you won’t do what I want, what good is faith?

Moses and his people expressed this same sentiment in today’s passage. In the story, God sent Moses to tell his people that he was going to deliver them from slavery. They rejoiced and some of them probably went home and started packing. God, however, didn’t do it instantly. There were going to be some ups and downs before the Israelites were set free. When the Pharaoh didn’t instantly let them go, and when he implemented even harsher work conditions, the people turned on Moses, who then turned on God. What good is faith if you won’t do what we want?

A lot of us have been here. We believe in God and we claim to follow him as long as our lives are going smoothly. When things go badly, we pray, asking for God to fix it. When he doesn’t, our faith is shaken. What good is faith if you don’t do what I want? This is a gross misunderstanding of faith though. We mistakenly think that faith means God walks with us where we want to go. Faith however, is walking with God where he wants us to go. This is the profound difference between, My will be done, and, Thy will be done. It’s not wrong to pray for God’s intervention in our lives, letting him know what we want. Faith though, means following God’s will, even when life doesn’t go the way we think it should.

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