The other day I was talking to a long time friend of mine whose daughter is struggling with some very serious health issues. She shared about a prayer service that was held at their church and how her daughter now has new peace and fresh hope. Somewhere in our conversation she said to me, “Jack, we are praying for the suddenly to happen.” (me) “The what?” (friend) “There are many times when we wait and wait – maybe even pray for years – and then suddenly the Lord moves and He comes to do the thing that we have been waiting for.”
Ohhhh. I like that. I googled around about “suddenly” verses in the Bible. My friend was right. There are 87 occurrences of the word suddenly in the Bible. 87 times the Lord moved swiftly and powerfully.
There are other times in life when suddenly our lives take unexpected twists and turns that we are not prepared for. We might suddenly lose a job and find ourselves in a vulnerable position. Relationships can suddenly take a turn and there seems to be no hope for healing. Divorce papers can suddenly show up on your door step. Suddenly there is an accident. Death and health issues can suddenly occur that change our lives forever.
No matter how close we are with the Lord, we are never quite prepared for the suddenly.
In the past few months I have experienced a large dose of the suddenlies. Suddenly my brother died, suddenly my family of origin fell apart at the seams, and just this past weekend my sweet, kind, practical and always cheerful aunt suddenly had a stroke.
When the sad suddenlies occur I find myself pushing back against things that cannot be changed. Please no…please turn back the clock…please let this be a dream…he was too young…she is too young…they are so good..what went wrong…please stop this nightmare.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all”
This, too, I know. When the suddenly occurs that we cannot seem to fathom, the Lord hovers very close and reveals Himself in miraculous ways. In the midst of the suddenly there is a special kind of peace and a knowing that He will see us through.
I do not know why God allows storms in our lives…but I know that when we endure the storm we will never be the same person again.
Sometimes when a suddenly slams it’s way into our lives, it is followed by agonizing periods of waiting and praying…praying and waiting. Our emotions can become tangled with feelings of hopelessness as we reel from swift changes that were unforeseen. There isn’t always a sudden healing. Change doesn’t always suddenly occur. And sometimes the Lord seems silent. I must admit that there have been times when I have lost hope that my prayers will be answered at all.
Yet, in the aftermath of the suddenly I have experienced the Lord in sudden and unexpected ways. Even when my specific prayers have been left unanswered – the Lord has blessed me suddenly with things that I never expected. Suddenly my daughter became pregnant, suddenly new people have come into my life who have brought new perspectives and helped to fill my aching soul. Suddenly we were invited to a new couples Bible study group, suddenly my grandson said something so profoundly spiritual that it almost knocked me to my knees. And every single morning I hear a sudden word from the Lord that ministers to me in the exact way that I needed. Each of these subtle suddenlies reminds me that the Lord may not have dragged me from the storm – but He is most certainly there with me in it.
When my friend spoke about praying for the suddenly, it reminded me that I can never give up. 87 times in the Bible Jesus showed up in His perfect timing and suddenly things started to happen. How many times have you been at the end of your rope when suddenly the Lord has shown up just when you felt you couldn’t take it a minute longer?
Suddenlies remind us that God is sovereign. It provides space where we begin to see that our lives are ordered according to His great purposes rather than our own. Suddenlies remind us that we are not in control.
“In his heart a man plans his course…but the Lord determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
Walking closely with the Lord helps us to cope when the suddenlies occur. It is much easier to call on the Lord when we already have a relationship with Him.
There is a particular young woman who I have been praying for all summer long and there is something in my soul that tells me that the Lord is up to something. I have this sort of knowing that He is doing something new in her life. I feel it in my spirit. I have never had such a strong feeling that the Lord is giving a resounding “yes and amen!” to this prayer of my/our hearts. It is as though the Lord has given me this secret little gift that is just between the two of us.
When we are thrashing around in a storm caused by the suddenly, we tend to pray a bit different. Our conversations with the Lord are no longer light and trite – but they become prayers of survival and deep earnestness. Prayers spoken from the eye of the storm come from the deepest part of our being as we lay our requests at His feet.
Sometimes our lives change suddenly and sometimes we are left to wait and we pray. And then there are those moments when after long, dry, periods of waiting and praying… suddenly things start to happen and the Lord begins to move. In one moment our lives can be transformed.
A new job arises so fast that you almost wonder if it’s really God’s will. You finally get pregnant with that long awaited child and suddenly you are pregnant with another. Suddenly the test results show a change that can only be explained as a miracle. Suddenly the relationship is healed. Or suddenly you are able to accept that things didn’t work out as planned…but you are finally able to trust God’s new plan for your life.
God is the Master of suddenly. It can be swift, painful, frightening, and miraculous. The journey of faith is not a path of ease and comfort – but a challenging climb with twists and turns, harrowing cliffs, and threatening storms. Walking the believer’s path requires courage, adaptability and resilience.
We can pray with complete confidence that God is answering our prayers. They may not be answered the way that we wanted. They may not come according to our schedule. But when the answers suddenly come we will surely see that…