Nothing could have prepared me for what I encountered as I slowly opened the door. The sounds of screaming and chaotic wailing unexpectedly slammed against me as I stepped into the room. I was dumbstruck with shock as I looked around and took inventory of the scene sprawled out before me. To my left, a woman rocked back and forth with her face in her hands, muffled sobs violently racking her body. In front of me a old man sat stunned, eyes wide and unblinking, the slight shaking of his head the only acknowledgment of understanding he offered. And at the center of the chaos was a grown man so loudly keening that the sounds of his grief pierced my ears causing me to involuntarily draw my shoulders up closer to them as if to shelter them from the terrible sound. Women were wailing and buzzing around the man as his mourning caused him to mercilessly heave again and again. And there I stood motionless, hand still on the doorknob. It was as if I had walked into the aftermath of a horrendous, all consuming horde that had left carnage in its wake, and yet no one had even told me that there had been a battle. I was completely ill-prepared for this war. But this was no war I had walked into - it was a hospital waiting room and I was the pastor on call.
I had arrived just as the Doctors had sprung the completely unexpected news to the family: the young mother, wife, daughter, and friend who just three hours before had complained of not feeling well, was now suddenly gone. No one had even known she was sick and now she was dead. Shock didn't begin to explain the emotions the family and now I was feeling. This was beyond shock - it was simply unbelievable.
I offered whatever comfort and solace I could to the man who had just lost his young bride and then slid out of the room unnoticed and hit my knees in the hallway. I bowed down before the Lord and wept for the family's pain and the unexpected loss of life. With fists clenched and tears flowing, I let the gravity of the situation rest on my heart in the presence of The Almighty. "This is out of order," I said to the Lord. The woman was in her mid 30's; she had only been married for a few short years and her son's fourth birthday was the very next day. "This is out of order," I declared louder this time. "God, give this family justice." I knew people walking by could hear me but it didn't matter. A righteous anger had laid hold of my heart and nothing could move me from that floor. I was here to do business with The King, the Justice Giver. The parable of the persistent widow filled my mind as I boldly came before the throne of Grace asking for God to right this wrong (Luke 18). I prayed for resurrection, I prayed for hope to return, I prayed for justice to be given.
After the time of intercession, I gathered myself up and slid back into the room, standing in the corner to make myself inconspicuous but still available to whatever family member needed me, all while silently declaring life under my breath. Every so often, my heart would sink as, amongst the cries, someone would offer up their grasping of faith with such remarks as, "God knows His timing," and "He needed her in heaven." As the hour ticked by, the wailing was replaced with the silence of trauma and soon the family began to gather their things to leave. I ventured out of the corner to offer my final condolences as they made their exits. The young woman's mother approached me and looked at me with pain-filled, questioning eyes, as she numbly spoke, "They said it was God's timing. They said He took her; that it was God's will." Although it was a statement, I knew the question behind those eyes. With the righteous cry for justice still resounding in my heart, I slowly laid my hands on her arms and gently squeezed reassuring her, "This wasn't Him. God gives life; He doesn't take it from His children like this." Brows furrowed, she stared hard at me for a moment before nodding her head in acknowledgement and releasing a bit of tension. I hugged her neck tightly and then watched her walk away, the words that she had uttered still ringing in my ears: this was God's will.
If this had been my only encounter with such statements in times of crisis, I might have tucked this moment away as a fluke. But time and time again in my walk of faith, I have heard countless believers offer such statements while standing beside coffins and while hearing the doctors grim report. Most recently, I've heard such explanations from the mouths of believers while listening to the grim reports of our nation's future. They shake their heads, shrug nonchalantly and say, "God's on His throne," while watching the liberty our Founding Fathers paid for get lowered in a tomb.
So, how did our Founding Fathers know that they were to fight for their liberties instead of simply saying, "Well, King George must be God's will for us..."? How do we today know when we are suppose to stand and speak because God's will isn't accomplished apart from action, versus us staying still & silent because God is sovereign? This is a major issue for the church in America because the reality is that there are times when God must judge a nation and all that is left for His people to do is walk in humility and repentance. But there are other times when God is "looking for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it"...(Ezekiel 22:29-31). That is the hour of action - the hour when men and women of God must cry out before Him to see His will accomplished in the earth! The issue is we must know God's heart as well as the hour in which we find ourselves.
Knowing God's Heart
It starts with knowing His heart. Now, there are some things that are solidly spelled out in scripture that the church doesn't have to 'seek to find out what is the will/heart of the Lord.' For example, I don't have to seek in prayer to know if God delights in life being protected from the womb to the tomb (Psalm 139:16; 127:3; John 1:2-3). So just because abortion is the law of the land, I cannot say, "well it must be God's will," and go on throughout my day. No! I do what Jesus said to do and pray that God's will would be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). I stand for life! I vote for life! I intercede and pray and petition for laws to be changed to protect life! We as the church must seek the heart of God to understand what His desires are. We know he desires that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). We know that he desires we live under peaceful laws and government rulers (1 Tim. 2:2). And we know he loves every baby in the womb, no matter how that conception occurred. If we know he desires these things, then we must do our part to see his desires fulfilled: we must pray, we must fast, we must speak boldly about the truth, we must vote for righteous leaders and continually pray that the laws they pass align with Heaven's heart. One thing is for certain: we cannot go around our Christian life singing, "Ca sera sera, whatever will be will be" and believe that we are being good stewards of the Kingdom he has entrusted to us. No, we must open the bible and learn all we can about God's desired will in the earth. We must know his heart.
Knowing The Season
But it's not enough to simply know His heart either: we must also know the heart of the season in which we live (1 Chron. 12:32). God's heart will never change: his desire for mercy, for justice, for love to rule and reign. However, due to Satan's & man's rebellious attitudes towards God's desired end, God's will is not always accomplished in the earth. There are moments, when God is patiently enduring man's rebellion, giving people/nations time to repent (Gen. 15:16; Rev. 2:21). It is in that hour that we continually bombard heaven for mercy, praying that the bowls of intercession will be poured out instead of the judgment of a full cup of iniquity (Rev. 5:8 - See Abraham's intercession in Genesis 18). But sometimes, the cups are full and the hour of visitation is over (Luke 19:44). Many prophets in the Old Testament prophesied wrongly because they didn't understand the season had changed. The religious leaders of Jesus' day missed the Messiah as he stood before them because they didn't know the season had changed. It would be imperative then, in such a season to understand the hour is no longer the same as it use to be. Jesus warned his followers that when a season/hour changes suddenly, we must find ourselves already prepared for what's to come or we will be left devastated (Matthew 24-25; see 24:43-44).
Now is the hour for believers to humble themselves before the Lord, quiet the many dueling voices within the prophetic community around them, and lean into His heart and His declared season. Sometimes, those seasons will be moments in time where we find ourselves (and our nation) suddenly confronted with the ugly unexpected. Like me in the hospital waiting room that day, will we already be prepared to know His heart & his will for that moment? I wish I could say I had raised that young lady from the dead. I have laid my hands on too many young people and spoken life and have yet to see them live again. However, because I know God's heart, I will not stop believing for the dead to be raised (Matt 10:8). I know an hour is coming when this part of the Great Commission will be widespread. To parallel this, I also know that God's heart is to raise up dying nations to serve out His purposes - so I keep praying for America's resurrection as well. But I also know that I will be presented with moments when, although I cry out for His heart to be accomplished, God will instead use the injustice of the situation as seed for a greater season to come - in my life personally and in this nation. And in that moment, I have done all I know to do, and now must wait for the season of reaping His justice to come. It may come as I expect it or it may come as I don't. It may come in my lifetime or it may come generations later. But it will come, I know - and I know because I know His heart. Let's return to that heart together, church, as the season we have found ourselves in may not be what we expected, but it's certainly not a reason to throw up our hands and say, "whatever will be may be,". Let's not make the season our focus - let's focus on HIM. Because when it's all said and done, it's very important to know the heart of the season but it's most important to know the heart of God