One thing I get really, really tired of is seeing people who come crying in the middle of a crisis ignore wise counsel and keep on doing the same old thing thinking that "this time it will be different". Of course, things are not different, in fact, they only get in deeper and then wonder why their lives never quite work out. I can think of countless situations where I've seen that happen and usually it gets ugly - really ugly, because it usually ends up involving innocent children.
Right now there are at least three situations like that I'm thinking about. Situations where the person is bent on continuing a very destructive behavior, and yes, children are involved and will be affected in the most negative way. Drugs, sex, and not wanting to stand up to abusive behavior, is more important than doing what's in the best interest of their children. These children don't stand a chance for anything like a happy life. I know these folks think they're hurting now and they're doing whatever they can to numb their pain. I also know they have no idea how those children will be able to break their hearts and cause them to feel more pain than they can imagine in the future.
With 1000+ people who will call a pastor when their life is coming apart at the seams, I see this stuff and am sometimes involved in it all the time. I'd say of all of those maybe 2% of the people really want to do what they need to do to make their lives better.
All I can do is pray. And that so often doesn't seem enough. I'd rather shake their teeth out.
I know that prayer is enough. Quite enough. I know that from experience. But maybe it doesn't seem enough because I know that God will not override someone's free will. He will not step in and force someone to do something they are not willing to do. He invites. He does not force Himself.
And yet ...
I wonder about that too. Years ago I was volunteering at a Pregnancy Care Center when a young girl walked in for a pregnancy test. I did the test and talked with her for a while. She was a very sweet girl who already had one child and was sure her parents would never in a million years understand how she could do this twice. She was adamant about having an abortion. Nothing would change her mind. She left to make plans to ride a bus to another city in another state and get an abortion later that week. I left the center that day, came home and prayed for her. You know how when you're really upset about something you just pray and say whatever comes to mind not bothering to think it through? Well, as I prayed I said, "Well God, just take all of her money away!". I knew that she wouldn't get an abortion with out cold hard cash. As soon as I said it I felt stupid. I can't ask God to steal her money! Scratch that God.
A week later, when I knew she would be back home, I called her to see how she was doing. I was expecting a young girl who was devastated. To my surprise she told me that she was still pregnant. She had not gotten the abortion because when she was getting off the bus some guy stole her purse and took all of her money. Needless to say, I was shocked. She went on to give birth to a beautiful baby girl and I got to watch the little girl grow up.
So all of that leaves me wondering just how this prayer thing works. Trust me, the above story had nothing to do with "faith".
I imagine this is one of the "mysteries" about God that we humans will never figure out. No wonder the Native Americans call God "The Great Mystery". I can't think of a better name for him.
So what are your thoughts about this?