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This article is from Issue 55: Jan/Feb 2012

The Power of "And Yet"

How God can work in life's messiest moments.

Are you kidding me, God? Nothing? Do we have to go down this road again? Is it really that hard? Is it that it’s a stupid prayer? Or have I been bothering you too much? Why won’t you help me?
I don’t think I’m the only one who’s been left hanging—wondering why God’s ignoring my repeated prayers, wondering if He answers at all.

Take last week, for instance. It wasn’t a huge prayer—I was just hoping for some divine inspiration on a writing assignment, something I often pray for as a career writer. But this time, God seemed a little slow. Because for two days after getting the assignment, I prayed my usual pre-writing prayer and got nothing.

So as I moved through my days—at the sink, washing dishes; at my desk, plunking out other stories; at the wheel, driving home—I repeated my prayer: Give me a story. Give me a great story.

Nothing.

On the day I needed that story, I sat at my computer and looked up—heavenward, I suppose—and prayed again: God, please just give me a story.

Still a big nada.

So instead of typing a story, I started typing a prayer—a litany of grievances against God. A list of the things I’d come asking and seeking, all the knocks I’d clunked on His door, all the things I was waiting on—some much more desperate than a story idea.

I ended it all by typing: “This is the reason so many people think you are not real. That you are not good. That you can’t be trusted.”

But with that, I broke into a smile—aware suddenly of the sacred space I entered the moment I began my typed lament. I smiled because I knew what was coming next:

I type: “And yet …”

And I pause before finishing the sentence. Because I’ve come to believe these two words—“and yet”—are among the most important words Christians can utter. These words make all the difference in how we bring our grievances to God—the difference between blathering complaints and an honest lament. The difference between a scornful rebuke and a grumbled hallelujah.

How to Get Mad at God

I recently heard someone say the purpose of lamenting—mourning and grieving—isn’t for God.

Obviously.

He knows our thoughts. Our frustrations. Our hurts. He knows we’re waiting and waiting. Lamenting, this person said, is for us. So we can come honestly before God and hear our own expressions of faith and doubt.