the problem with prayer and praise

What happens when 2 hookers walk into a 7-11 at 1 in the morning?

It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. But it’s actually the conclusion to one scary night.

Friday night, my little silver Hyndai Elantra was hit by a F-250, pushed into a Suburban, then up onto the curb. I was stunned. I was scared. I am sore. I spent 5 hours in the ER, getting an okay from the doctor. Afterwards, I bought donuts and milk at 7-11 (whilst hookers flirted with the clerk; see hook–pun intended). On the ever-necessary Facebook status, I posted that God was faithful… my accident could have been/ should have been much worse. Many of my loving friends posted the same kind of sentiment… God protected you! You had angels! I couldn’t agree more. I am grateful.

Except for the pit in my stomach, sunk deep by dark and heavy questions:

What about the what-I-assume-to-be-fatal-accident I drove by last month? Where was God’s faithfulness then? How come He was faithful to me, and not him/her/them?

What about those paralyzed by accidents? Where was God’s protection then?

And then, before I can catch my breath, the questions just drown me in the screaming stories of those I know: cancer? death? miscarriages? abuse? infertility?poverty? death beds?

Unanswered prayers haunt us all, but what of the fierce intensity of rejected prayers? Divine slaps in the face?

This is the problem of prayer. How do I ask for something that has been so clearly denied to someone I know? How do my blessings stifle the spirit of those around me?

This is the problem of praise. How do I accept something so many others have longed for, fruitlessly? How do I declare God’s faithfulness to me without indicting His apparent-faithlessness to someone else?

I do not know the answers to these questions.

But I want to know God.

And to know God is to thank Him even when He is not faithful. To know God is to look for the highest good, foreign as it may be. To know God is to accept what comes my way–the blessings and the curses–with presence for the presents, attentiveness to Divine attention, however it manifests. To know God is to write my own story, while non-judgmentally handing others pens and pencils and white-out and erasers to revise their own stories as well.

Beyond that, I cannot speak to matters of justice and fairness and rightness. But I can talk to the One who is Just, Fair, and Right. And to this invitation… I will be faithful.