As we were emptying out mom’s house this summer my daughter-in-law texted and asked if there might be something for our grandson that had belonged to his great-grandpa. Almost as soon as we received the text, we saw a baseball mug that was dad’s.
The mug was the perfect keepsake. My dad and my grandson shared a special bond; and they are both baseball fans. My grandson is decorating his room with a baseball theme, and this mug would be the perfect pencil holder for his desk.
shattered into a bazillion pieces—just like my heart when I saw the photo.
God only knows what trauma the package endured from Texas to Georgia, and as much as we thought we had the mug protected, it wasn’t. Now it’s just one more piece of dad gone, and my heart is heavy.
We can’t protect everyone from every trauma
The reality is, just like we tried our best to protect this mug, we all try to protect our hearts, and our loved ones from trauma – from brokenness. But, we can’t. And since we know there isn’t enough bubble-wrap in the world to sufficiently protect the people we love, we pray bubble-wrap prayers.
I’m sure you know what I mean; you probably did it this morning, I did: God, please give them safe travel. Please don’t let them be bullied. Please keep them from predators. Please let them pass the test. Please protect their marriage. Please let them get the job. Please don’t let them get hurt on the playground. Please let them sit with someone at lunch. Please give the raise, the promotion, the good review. These are what I call: Bubble-wrap prayers. Protect. Protect. Protect—from physical harm, emotional harm, and spiritual harm.
Since we know there isn’t enough bubble-wrap in the world to sufficiently protect the people we love, we pray bubble-wrap prayers.
These are probably the most frequent prayers I pray, and honestly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with praying these prayers. However, just like our mug, sometimes the people we love will experience trauma we haven’t thought of or prepared for, and there will be brokenness. They may even be shattered.
Why? Why does God sometimes let really bad things happen? If God himself explained the answer to us, we probably wouldn’t understand because we don’t have the foresight, nor the wisdom, that he has. However, he has given us a few reasons.
Bad things happen so that we will learn to rely on him (2 Corinthians 1:8-9) – he is the only reliable One, the One who will never let us down, who will always be there to not only pick up the pieces, but put them back together perfectly.
God tells us that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope which never disappoints us (Romans 5:3-5). Our afflictions strengthen our faith; maturing (James 1:2-4) and sanctifying us into the image of Christ Jesus.
God uses our afflictions for his good purposes
In our heart of hearts, we know that God will use all of our sufferings for our eternal good, and his glory, but that doesn’t stop us from praying bubble-wrap prayers against suffering.
Like our mug – we protected it as much as we knew how, against what we thought were normal bumps and jostles, but ultimately, there was something greater than we imagined that crushed it, and it wasn’t prepared for that trauma. Perhaps we should not only pray for protection we should also pray for the things we need to endure suffering.
How do we pray those prayers when we can’t imagine what trauma the future might hold? What would those prayers sound like? We have many prayers in the Bible to teach us exactly how to pray those prayers. Jesus himself taught us when he said we should pray for God’s will and also that God would give us each day the things we need to survive – our daily bread (Matthew 6:9-13). We pray for the things we need to physically, emotionally, and spiritually survive.
The Apostle Paul’s prayers are a wonderful example of praying for what we, and those we love, need in order to survive trauma. He prayed for the people he loved to have abounding love, increased knowledge, grace and peace (Philippians 1:9-11), for the eyes of their hearts to be enlightened in order to know the hope to which God has called them, to know the power God exerted when he raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:15-23), to be filled with knowledge to live worthy of the Lord in every way, being strengthened with all power to have great endurance and patience (Colossians 9:9-14).
We must learn to pray for the things we need to physically, emotionally, and spiritually survive the trauma that will come.
Were there people who loved Paul praying bubble-wrap prayers for Paul? Maybe. But maybe they were also praying for endurance should God see fit to allow trauma. Like Paul, God may have a duty for us that can only be accomplished through our afflictions. I am reminded of the jailer in Philippi (Acts 16:16-40), would he have been saved if Paul had not been beaten and thrown into jail?
We don’t know what plans God has for us, or for those we love, and it may include experiencing brokenness. Nevertheless, I will continue praying for protection – Every. Single. Day. But, I have been convicted of late, that I also need to pray for equipping in affliction – that should I, or the ones I love, find ourselves hurt, bullied, failing, suffering, oppressed, depressed, lonely, alone, or broken – that we will know the power of God, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is for us.
What about you? How do you pray for yourself? For the people you love? There isn’t enough bubble-wrap in the world to protect us from suffering because suffering is the lot of all Christians; even the ones we desire to protect the most.
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