In the middle of a hectic week and trying season of life, I once vented to God, “What’s the deal with all this mess, God?!? You’re all-powerful and every resource on earth belongs to you! WHY. WON’T. YOU. JUST. MAKE. THINGS. A. LITTLE. EASIER?!?”
To clarify, I wasn’t asking this at an earlier period in my life when I was still young in my faith. No. I was already a pastor, shepherding God’s people in their journey to love Him more, but my week had gotten the best of me and God was taking a little longer to meet a specific need of mine than had become convenient.
I threatened God [because that always works].
I even denied Him the pleasure of hearing me pray at the start of each day, because if He wasn’t going to explain Himself, then I wasn’t going to bother talking to Him!
After spending a few more days acting like a 4-year-old, I was handed a resource that quite frankly seemed like a direct answer to the question I had angrily posed to God. It was a book by Paul E. Billheimer titled, “Destined for the Throne: How Spiritual Warfare Prepares the Bride of Christ for Her Eternal Destiny.”
Generally, I don’t accept books from people because I need all the time I can get to study the ONE Book my life should be devoted to; that and because I have at least twelve new and unread books on my shelf I’m still yet to get to. But for reasons unknown to me at the time, I felt strongly inclined to receive this gift from this individual that morning.
This book was such a spiritually-weighty answer from God that I read the whole thing in one sitting. (I have attached a screenshot of the first few pages to show just how impactful it was to me in the first few minutes alone.)
The book fleshes out, in detail, the side benefits and rewards that come from being the Bride of Christ. If you’re new to Church-lingo, the Bride of Christ refers to the Church: basically, every follower of Christ from the day of Pentecost in the book of Acts to the rapture still ahead in our future.
The idea is that you and I, as followers of Jesus Christ, are destined to rule and reign with Christ when He sets up His ever-increasing and expanding kingdom here on earth. In fact, legally speaking, followers of Christ are already “seated with Christ in the heavenly realms.” In other words, you have already been entrusted with some of that great spiritual authority you very possibly haven’t yet tapped into yet.
If this is true, (and it is), the question then becomes: Where do we learn the skills to someday rule with Christ in His heaven-on-earth kingdom? Where do we learn princely skills to oversee His goverment? Where do we learn the power of our authority to call into reality those things that are not yet a reality?
Billheimer’s thesis is that if followers of Christ are to someday share the throne of the universe with their Lord and Savior, if they are to someday “judge angels” and be entrusted with the ruling of “ten cities”, then they need to be trained, educated and well-equipped for that role.
It was in this assertion that I found the answer to the question I irritably posed to God at the beginning of this blog post. I hold Biblically to the belief that God is NOT the author of evil, and I believe there isn’t a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, MINE! However, it became clear to me rather quickly that the reason God couldn’t just make things easy is because I (and every follower of Christ) needed to learn the art of overcoming-prayer so I could be prepared to step into my eternal role as an heir of God and co-heir with Christ.
Did you catch that?
Learning to pray faith-filled effectual prayers is the key and the answer to my question! Prayer is not just about getting stuff from God. Prayer is boot camp. Prayer is the arena where the Christian learns to overcome. Prayer is the assertion of our “power of attorney” entrusted to us by Christ!
In Billheimer’s words (p.39), “[Prayer] is God’s way of giving the Church on-the-job training in overcoming the forces hostile to God. This world is a laboratory in which those destined for the throne are learning, by actual practice in the prayer closet, how to overcome Satan and his hierarchy. God designed the program of prayer as an apprenticeship for an eternity of reigning with Christ. …..What foes will be left to overcome in the eternal ages, we do not know. But the character acquired in overcoming here will evidently be needed when we have joined the Bridegroom on His throne. [For HE Himself says, “To he who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne” Revelation 3:21]”
Practically speaking, here's what that means:
- When something you’re trusting God for appears to be slipping away from you and you bend your knees in prayer to ask God to restore it to you, you are in that moment being trained on how to delegate and rule in Christ’s government.
- When you’re physically sick or standing bedside someone ill and you ask God to intervene with His healing power, regardless of the outcome, you are in that moment learning what it means to exert the spiritual authority of the Great Physician and King, Jesus.
- When you suspect that there is a spiritual behind-the-scene opposition warring against you and your family, and you assert your authority in Christ by telling that spiritual entity, “You shall NOT pass”, you my friend, in that moment, are being trained to rule in authority over nations.
See the connection there? Prayer, after all, availeth much!
Since that day when I first read the book, my attitude about prayer and difficult trials has dramatically evolved. I’ve learned that I am not powerless or without an arsenal of spiritually mighty weapons in the battle against Satan. I am learning the power of boldly declaring to the enemy of my souls, “YOU. SHALL. NOT. PASS!” (That’s the second time I’ve used that phrase, so it should probably tell you that there’s a whole other blog post about the LOTR movies I would like you to read HERE).
Concerning trials, though they still take inevitable their toll on me, I have embraced the fact that at the end of the day, those troubles will only serve to make me more like Christ and better equip me to someday reign with Him. Even in trials where I fall or fail, not only am I confident that God will work it out for my good and His glory, but I see that the very process of going through it is on-the-job-training for a future role that will be immeasurably more rewarding than anything I could have dreamed or imagined.
So, back to the starting question, why won’t God just make things a little easier?
Well, first off, He can, and He does in many cases, but like the men and women of our military who have their butts kicked for several weeks when there’s no apparent battle taking place - all for the purpose of attaining a readiness-status for eventual victory in war, our struggles serve a greater redemptive purpose.
This trials and the battles we face in this life is our apprenticeship to reign in eternity with Jesus Christ. By practicing (even through trial and error) overcoming-prayer and asserting our authority in Christ, even in mundane affairs, we are being trained by our loving Father to someday rule with His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, over His universal empire soon to be established.
For THIS reason, I urge you not to lose heart when God won’t just make things easy. Your loving Father in heaven is simply readying you for a throne.