Say What?

When God knows it all and none of it makes sense to you, what do you pray? How do you respond when the posture of prayer doesn’t feel right? Hands once clasped are now more at home in your pockets. And how do you address what you would much rather avoid because you don’t really want to know the answer? Long questions. No short answers.

No short cuts. How do I say this when the words have jagged edges and I cannot get around them to talk to God? How I wish that I could separate the two, that I could call a private meeting so that my pain won’t be there too.

These words are getting in my way.

Clearing my throat changes nothing. They won’t budge. Negotiations stalled. I want to give them a yard; but they won’t even take an inch.

“Psst. God, will You meet outside of my present situation? My current predicament is not a good place for us to spend time together. Is there somewhere else we can go?” Because I’m not in a good place.

We’ve all been here, hiding behind the front door of a poor choice, an unexpected diagnosis, or an unforeseen turn of events while God stands on the outside asking, “Can I come in? Do you want to talk about it?” Short answer: No.

Why I cannot is a much longer story. While I know all of the details, I cannot see the bigger picture. I have poured over each frame. I just don’t get it. And I don’t know what to say.

I know that God is in this somewhere, though I am wondering how this is going to all work out. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (8:28). But how can he be so sure? Did Paul really mean all? Surely, there are exceptions to this rule.

God can’t have a hand in bad things. When trouble comes and then decides to move in, when sickness wants a room and you weren’t expecting any visitors, when conflict is on the table and dinner is served with cold, blank stares, what do you want me to say? Bow my head and pray?

Instead, I’m looking up and around. “What is going on around here? God, I need You come down here and straighten things out.” Because my tongue is all tied up, all bound up.

My stomach is in knots. My head is spinning. I can’t see straight. Does that say, “Pray without ceasing?” “God, do You really want to hear it all?” In prayer, I would have to surrender it all.

Lay it all out on the table. Praying hands are open to God. Maybe this is where I begin. Hands in.

I crossed my own heart. Arms folded. God is talking through the door, asking, “Can I come in? Do you want to talk about it?” I come closer because I don’t really want to keep my distance. Head leaning against the door, I respond, “Say what?”

Reverend Starlette Thomas* is the Minister to Empower Congregations at the D.C. Baptist Convention. She writes on the social construct of race and the practice of faith at Her hobbies include reading, writing, and Starbucks.

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