God's very best for you is my new, all-purpose prayer, because whether you're in financial straits, your health is compromised or your children are filled with rebellion and little else, God's very best for you is your only hope. It's all-purpose because this prayer works for anyone, even meeting Jesus' command to "pray for your enemies."
Best read that again, and read it carefully. Because God's very best for you doesn't necessarily mean you'll get that long-overdue, well-deserved promotion that will put paid to the many overdue bills crowding the mailbox.
God's very best for you doesn't necessarily mean that Mr. Right or Miss Wonderful is going to waltz into your life, with hearts and flowers to share or that your current Mr. Wrong-in-so-many-ways will be magically transformed into Mr. Right or that you will suddenly be transformed into his Mrs. Wonderful.
God's very best for you also doesn't mean that your husband's eyesight will be restored or that your much-loved mother will survive her battle against breast cancer.
Rather, God's very best for you can begin where you are, right here, right now. God can do his very best for you in the job you have, today. God can do his very best for you with your less-than-perfect spouse. God's very best for you is found as you travel the sterile halls of the hospital cancer ward, dreading with every fiber of your being the thin, wan face that barely has the strength to smile as you enter the room.
Even if your own days are filled with doctor visits, consultations, blood draws and x-rays and your nights are racked with pain, seasoned with a healthy dose of fear -- this, too, can be God's best for you -- today. If your mornings are spent filling out job applications and your afternoons are spent balancing hope that the phone will ring with a job offer against the fear that when it finally rings, it will be yet another in a long line of bill collectors, this too, is God's best for you -- today.
But, you may protest, none of these situations seem like God's best for anyone. In fact, they seem like nothing less than a cruel joke played out on a cosmic level.
Nevertheless, it is true. If you have ever cried out to God; if you have ever looked at his creation in wondrous worship; even if you have clenched your fist and shaken it toward the heavens, angry words on your lips, then where you are, right here and right now, is where God can begin to do his best work -- the only work that matters.
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." in John 10:10. But if these are our trials, how can we have life to the full when our lives seem to be little more than daily exercises in futility?
The answer is simple. We can't. And, as long as we have a vision of God in a Santa suit, futility wins. If our vision of God is that of an always-ready-for-harvest money tree in the back yard, futility wins. If we measure God's goodness by the square footage we call home, by how healthy we are, by how many friends we have coming in and out the door, or by any of the world's favorite measuring tools, futility wins. Contrary to popular philosophy, God doesn't care if you're happy, satisfied, healthy or rich. He, who did not spare his only son, will not spare the flesh if it means sacrificing the soul of one he loves, the one he has loved from first thought. And we are, each one, that very one.
A dear friend and sister in the Lord has terrible health and hasn't drawn an easy breath for as long as I've known her. Yet her heart is filled with compassion for those who always eat the right foods, exercise faithfully and eschew all bad habits, yet have no faith. "They're surviving," she told me one day, "we're thriving."
A brother confessed one day that his daughter's life-changing injury revealed more about God's love and sovereignty than any sermon he'd ever heard.
After spending years trapped at the bottom of a bottle, fading eyesight and brittle bones cannot ensnare the heart of the man who has felt the strength of the Lord as he pulled him from that pit of despair.
Be assured of one thing. Trials and tribulations are temporary. Remember the woman, stooped over for 18 long years, and how her suffering drew our Lord's compassion and healing touch, even on the Sabbath?
Remember also our Lord's challenge to those who opposed him, "Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?" in Luke 13:18. Her time for healing had come at last and Jesus would not see her wait one more day, even one more moment, to receive that healing. So it shall be for each one of us.
Until then, our testimony rings true. In every moment -- whether our skies are blue and filled with sunshine or covered by dark clouds and stormy weather -- today God is able so save all who call upon his name.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him together.