God can send anyone he chooses to share his truth or speak into our situation, whether or not we warm to them, and whether or not they fit our preconceived ideas!
The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again…. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the LORD was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36: 15-16)
I sat alone in the hospital consulting room, waiting for the internal medicine doctor and his student to return after discussing my case. Weeks of baffling symptoms, two visits to ER and several previous doctors who did not have answers as to what was wrong with my body, had left me doubtful and fearful. After what felt like an eternity, the somewhat unsympathetic doctor and his young assistant knocked, walked in and proceeded to hand me a lab requisition for numerous tests.
I had questions, but they were brushed aside as the appointment had already run an hour over time and the doctor had other patients to see. I had concerns over the lab tests, which were not the usual tests one sees on the standard requisition. What were they testing and why? What were they looking for?
“It would take too long to tell you…we just want to rule some things out”
Could they at least offer a theory as to what was wrong? Was it my pre-existing condition as I suspected? They disagreed and hastily offered a possible diagnosis (which I silently rejected), stood, shook my hand and showed me the door. I walked away feeling confused and frustrated, asking God why, after weeks of struggling, he had not answered my prayer in providing the clear diagnosis we had asked for, instead of a lab requisition for more extensive tests. To my mind, the doctor did not have a clue what was wrong! Irritated, I shrugged off the diagnosis that had been offered, knowing that my symptoms could not possibly be related to their suggestion.
Much prayer had surrounded this appointment. We had prayed for the doctor of God’s choice and for wisdom for him. Yet he had been rushed, rude and definitely lacked a friendly manner! I certainly didn’t warm to him. Yet God knew about this appointment before I was even born. I wondered why he would not have provided a doctor with a warmer or more reassuring approach. As Christians, we trust that God chooses the people who cross our paths, and the details of our days, especially when we pray beforehand. He doesn’t ignore our prayers.
God’s messenger, however, may not be the person that we would choose…
You may have heard the story of a man who was caught in rising floodwater. As the water rose, he climbed onto the roof of his house and prayed for God to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The water is rising, get into the canoe and I will take you to safety.” The man refused, saying that he was waiting for God to rescue him. A while later the police came by in a boat and told the man that the water was still rising and that he needed to get into the boat for safety. Again, the man refused, saying that he was waiting for God to rescue him. The water continued to rise. A while later a helicopter came by and hovered overhead. A winch was sent down to the man and the crew begged him to get on board, but again he refused, confident that God would save him. Finally, the floodwaters rose above his house and he was drowned. When he arrived in heaven, he asked God why he was there and said, “I prayed that you would save me! Why did you not answer my prayer? I trusted you to save me from the flood!”
“Yes, my child,” the Lord replied, “and I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter, but you refused all three…”
How often do we reject those whom God has sent? Has God sent you a messenger that you have rejected?
The doctor I saw at the hospital was the man chosen by God to see me, and to diagnose the cause of my symptoms, yet in my pride and arrogance I didn’t recognize that until later. Because I was upset about his manner and attitude, I refused to consider that he may be the answer to my prayer. After a night of repentance and surrendering to God, I woke with a much more humble attitude, feeling as if a weight had been lifted. Something had changed. I began to see clearly. I realized that the doctor’s diagnosis may not have been as far fetched as I thought. Two weeks later, lab results confirmed that he was indeed correct! I began treatment that eventually led to full resolution of symptoms. I continue to be extremely thankful for this man who was the only one of the seven doctors I saw, to work out and test for the right problem, and I learned a valuable lesson in humility!
The Bible is full of stories of messengers and people whom God sent who were rejected by his people. From Old Testament heroes such as Noah, who was laughed at when he warned of the flood, to Jeremiah who received death threats because of his message, to Jesus himself who was God’s ultimate messenger. In Acts 4:11, quoting from the psalms, Peter describes Jesus as “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” Jesus, the most important ‘stone’ in the spiritual house that God was building, was rejected and crucified. Why did people reject those whom God sent? Why do we often reject his messengers today?
Modern day messengers have many names. Doctors, pastors, counsellors, friends. Many will confirm that when a client is challenged and presented with their own role or part in their problem, they often become defensive, and may even terminate the supportive relationship or push their ‘helpers’ away because they are not ready to take responsibility or to change their behaviour, or surrender their problem. Sometimes they are simply afraid.
We reject truth because we are not ready to receive it.
For me with the doctor, it was partly fear. He was also not what I expected, and he did not meet my expectations. He wasn’t the gentle, reassuring physician I was hoping for (which is a pretty poor excuse for rejecting his diagnosis!)
Other reasons for rejecting Gods messenger (or message) are pride, not trusting God, allowing the problem or behaviour to serve a purpose, not being willing to be challenged or surrender sinful behaviour, not getting the answer we wanted, or simply not liking the messenger if they are not what we expect! Jesus was not what many expected. Some of the Old Testament prophets had some rather unusual traits and behaviour, for example, preaching naked (Isaiah)! In the New Testament, John the Baptist, “the voice of one calling in the wilderness” (John 1:23) was a desert dwelling nomad! God can send anyone he chooses to share his truth or speak into our situation, whether or not we warm to them, and whether or not they fit our preconceived ideas!
Has God sent you a messenger? What was your response? Have you ignored the message and decided it wasn’t for you? God knows best and he longs for the best for you. He does answer our prayers, but not always in the way we expect. When you pray, expect him to answer and expect a messenger, especially one who doesn’t fit the bill!
Prayer: Lord, please forgive me for any preconceived ideas I may have as to whom you should send to help me when I ask. Please help me to recognize the messengers you send to speak into my life, and to trust and embrace the message you give them. If there is any part of me that is not willing to accept truth, please expose it and help me to surrender it to you. Thank you for loving me and only having my best interests at heart. Thank you that there is no condemnation for those who trust you, and no separation from your love. Amen.