By Drew Zuverink
I was reading a book called, "Breaking Cover," which is a biography of a woman who worked for the CIA for ten years before using her training to help save hundreds of Middle Eastern Christians flee from ISIS. The stories of some of the Christians who were fleeing from ISIS, who had captured and taken over their hometowns, were devastating. To be a Christian in the Middle East is not at all safe, especially in Muslim controlled areas. Sadly as some of the Christians were fleeing for their lives they were separated from other members of their families. Many found out later that ISIS had captured them and they never heard from them again.
Essentially what happened was the fleeing Christians made it to another town that was right on the front lines of the war against ISIS. They all crowded into a local church, either finding room inside or camping on the front lawn. It wasn't safe but it was the best that they could do. Michele Assad, the former CIA agent, heard about this and joined a team who's mission was to find a country that would allow the Christians to seek safety there. I don't want to ruin the story so let's just say there were many obstacles and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. There were hundreds of fleeing Christians of all ages who were in grave danger and it didn't seem like there was much that they could do. It seemed hopeless.
Michele, who was a Christian herself, was discouraged and prayed to God asking him to intervene and help these people! After she prayed that prayer she said that she sensed God saying to her, "I'm not doing you a favor by helping out. These are my people and this is my project." She realized in that moment that God wasn't just one of the helpers in the effort to rescue the families, he was driving the effort to rescue the families. She and the other people involved were the tools that he was using to accomplish his will.
As I was reading that it struck me, how true is it that we often operate like we care more about people than God does. We hear of the evil in the world and we beg God to wake up from his heavenly nap and do something! Doesn't it seem like he's apathetic sometimes? Evil just runs around doing it's thing without being challenged. Even right here in Michigan think of the foster care system and how broken that is. How many kids are suffering and where is God to help them out? Or what about abortion? The Supreme Court just made the decision to put the ball in the hands of each State. Michigan is going to attempt to make abortions legal at any stage of the pregnancy, for any reason, and basically in any place they can find. If that gets passed, where was God?
Michele's prayer and the answer that she believes she heard from God changed my life. We've all prayed a prayer like hers, asking God to help someone that we know, or to open one of our loved one's eyes to the truth of his word, or to stop the evil that we see spreading all around us. And what we need to realize is that praying for God to do a good thing or praying for him to fight against sin or praying for him to save souls is really quite silly of us. Doesn't scripture show us that it has been God's plan since the rebellion of mankind to reconcile people back to a relationship with him? Doesn't scripture show that God hates sin and he is working to end sin once and for all? Doesn't it show that God loves doing good and he has been actively working to spread goodness all over the world? The Bible is one giant collection of books that tells the story of how God is working to save the world from evil! In fact, God wants this so badly that he sent his only Son to experience and defeat evil so that there would be a way for people to be saved from it.
It is God's plan and purpose to stop evil, do good, and save souls. It has been for a very long time. It's his mission and so instead of asking him to do these things (which is quite silly because he tells us that he is doing them) we ought to ask God to let us help. A better prayer would be, "God I have heard of your mission to fight evil, spread goodness, and save souls, I want in. Use me. Show me how I can help. I want to help. I'm full of inadequacies, I'm going to fail, but use me still. I want in."
That prayer makes sense. It is God's great desire to do good in the world, it's been his plan and purpose since the fall, and thinking that he doesn't care as much as we do is one of the more ridiculous things that Christian's sometimes assume.
"Well," you might say, "Why does it seem like there is still so much evil and hurt out there then? Is God's plan not working?" That's a complicated question that requires a very detailed and lengthily answer, but let me just suggest a part of that answer:
Is one of the reasons that there is still so much pain and hurt and suffering because not enough of God's people have joined in his plan of saving the world? But instead are living their lives as if God will just go ahead and save the world on his own and we can just enjoy the pleasant things of life while he does it? Is one of the reasons that abortion has been legal for so long because most Christians haven't done much to fight against it? Is one of the reasons that kids are suffering in the foster care system because not enough Christians have taken up the extreme responsibility of taking one of them into their home? Is one of the reasons that there are so many orphans without a home because not enough Christians have offered to adopt?
God is on a mission to save the world and also to make the world more like it is in heaven. He has called millions of people to himself, reconciling them and forgiving them for their years of rebellion. He loves on them, cherishes them, rejoices with them. They are no longer his enemies but are now his beloved children. He gives them his very own Holy Spirit, equipping them with incredible power and goodness and he asks them to join him in his work of saving the world. And what do many of us do with the Holy Spirit? "Thanks for the Holy Spirit God! Hopefully this takes away MY sadness. Hopefully this makes ME have a happier marriage. Hopefully this blessed ME." Those things are good things that come from the Holy Spirit's indwelling, but that is so wrong if it is the only way of thinking about it. We are not just given the Holy Spirit for ourselves, we are given the Holy Spirit to equip us to join God in his work of saving the world. Somewhere along the line we have twisted this into a selfish and individualistic thing where we are free to enjoy the Spirit for ourselves while the world is in desperate need of help.
Friends God is trying to save the world and he uses people to do this. He's equipped millions and millions of people with all that they need to join him in this work. Stop praying for him to start acting, but pick up your cross, use the Holy Spirit's power, and follow Jesus daily into this mission. God is not the one taking a nap on the job, we are.