In some season of your life, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Supposedly the phrase dates back to early Greece where Hippocrates, one of the most famous worldly healers in history, used it to describe methods of healing when traditional routes had failed.
When I think of my faith journey, I think of the phrase having a different meaning. It seems to me that during my most stressful or disjointed periods, I tended to focus more on the extreme devotion to my faith. Instead of making my faith a continual high-point of my life, I would wait until I was at the end of my rope to seek God.
I don’t believe I’m unique in that regard. I believe that many of us seek God when the times are at their worst. We’re way more open to asking for help from God after we’ve exhausted all the normal avenues we know and understand. God for many of us is the last resort. He’s the desperate measure we’ve been avoiding rather than the first counselor we call on.
In the past two years, I’ve seen my relationship with God morph into something entirely different than it was in my mid-to-late-20s. With the help of my wife, and the encouragement of a new church family, I’ve begun to think about God as a first resort rather than a last resort. I’ve begun to thank God much more than ever before, because I’m asking more of God than ever before. And I’m finding out that God is faithful to the person that seeks him first, and he still performs miracles even today.
It’s funny how easy it is to minimize the importance of God in your daily routine. Often with a simple statement like, “Oh that’s not a big enough problem to pray about,” you’ve immediately taken the issue out of God’s hands and put it in your own. Sometimes that works out fine. You solve daily problems in your job, or your house, or your own life quite adeptly. In fact, many people trust themselves so much in the day-to-day management of their own lives that they rarely ask God for anything except, “The Big Stuff.”
The Big Stuff is all those problems we know for a fact are completely outside our own control. We leave those items for sick friends and family, natural disasters, or maybe your favorite sports team winning. But that’s not really all true. Many more things are outside of our control, even if we’re trying to control them. Many of us make multiple contingency plans because we believe we can control the outcome of any situation. We try to control our image on our social media accounts. We try to control our health, or our fitness. In many ways we live under the mistaken illusion that we’re in control of our lives.
Then something happens. A loss. A mistake. A tragedy. An unexpected event or series of events shakes the foundations of that illusion of control, and suddenly we’re looking for answers. Why did this happen? What can I do to fix it? What if I don’t even actually know what went wrong? Why me?
Those questions can send us running into the hands of an all-powerful and all-knowing God. Like the Prodigal Son, we return from our prideful lives with our heads bowed in supplication looking for God to fix whatever went wrong. It seems selfish doesn’t it? And in many cases the Devil would convince you that you’re not worthy of such return to God, which is one of his many lies. Make no mistake, God would rather you come running to him, than never come to him at all.
But you’ll notice something as you develop in your relationship with God beyond simply using him as a crisis manager. God becomes more than that. Through the Holy Spirit and your covenant with Jesus Christ, God becomes your trusted advisor, your constant companion, your encourager, and your loving friend.
The idea that the creator of the entire universe actually wants to be your friend is something that gets lost on many Christians including my earlier self. In John 15 we get explicit messages from Jesus about how to be a friend of God:
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
When we follow what God commands, we are his friends. When we listen to what the Master is saying, and know what he is doing, we are friends of God, not just servants. We are meant to love one another with the same love that God has for all of us, and that means not just those we’re close to but those that can drive us crazy at times.
I found peace in the crazy times by focusing on God as a friend who holds me in the palm of his hand. It’s not easy and there are times where I wander away and seem to get lost. But it’s much easier to return when you remember that God is in control of everything, and you’re not. When you can clear the mental hurdle that you must manage everything to make it better, and instead put all your issues in God’s hands, you can then truly see and witness the wonder of God’s ability to love, heal, and work miracles.
Then, once you witness that miracle, share your testimony. Don’t just accept the things God does for you and do nothing. Praise him and tell others! Proclaim his greatness! It’s easy to ask and then receive, but forget to give God the glory. Our true purpose on this earth is to glorify God. These things he does for you aren’t just for you, they are for God to show his power and glory throughout the earth.
Be sure to share every story, even if they seem small. As an example, yesterday my wife and I prayed for a friend whose son was running a 104 degree fever, and it looked like he was also going to owe $7000 to fix his AC right at the beginning of summer. We prayed that the fever would leave the child and that God would provide for him a much lower cost to fix his AC, or the money to come to him so that his debt wouldn’t be increased.
Today he came in and told me that his son’s fever left last night, and that another repairman came out to look at the AC and fixed it for $180 instead of $7000. That’s an amazing testimony and I thanked God on the spot. It’s just one case, but you begin to see them daily if you’re willing to ask God for help in all things.
Try it yourself and watch your life and your faith completely change.