The third thing I think we can definitely know that God stands for is that he always wants what is best for us. How could we call him a loving God if he didn't want what was best for us? No matter how many times the Hebrew people strayed, God loved them and called them back to him. Even when he punished them it was so that they would repent and return to him (see Jeremiah 29:11; 31:3). Loving parents correct their children when they are wrong; we can expect no less from God, the perfect parent. Unlike our human parents, he makes no mistakes in dealing with us. We can trust that what he does is absolutely the best for us.
Yet, many people with whom I pray seem to be afraid to approach God, to listen to God. They are afraid that he will criticize, scold or condemn. The overwhelming evidence of the New Testament, though, is that he will be gentle. Take the case of the woman accused of adultery (John 8:1-11). Though she was guilty, Jesus did not condemn her. He simply said, Go and sin no more. Or the woman at the well (John 4). This woman had not led an exemplary life. But Jesus' conversation with her, wherein he "told her everything she ever did", did not leave her condemned or chastised. Rather she was energized and went exclaiming to the whole town to come and see.
I repeat: Jesus wants what is best for us because he loves us. It is a truth we can surely stand on with him. We need not fear spending time with him, or talking with him, or listening to him, because God is love (1 John 4:7-12). He has our best interests at heart.
For Reflection: Have we been avoiding time with God out of fear of what he might say?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, we take courage from your interactions with the women in the Scriptures. We need not fear you, nor doubt you, nor mistrust you. You love us. You always want what is best for us.
Another issue on which I think we can say that God stands firm is slavery. There seems to be no case in which slavery is acceptable. Holding a person against their will goes against the dignity of the human person who is made in the image and likeness of God. It goes against "love your neighbor as yourself." By its very definition it goes against free will.
No doubt we should consider the issue of Paul's writings about slavery. He speaks of slavery in various ways. Paul likes to contrast being slaves to God with slaves to sin. In Colossians 4 he urges slave owners to be fair to their slaves. Slave masters were to treat their slaves as God, the Supreme Master, would treat the owners. It is true, he does not condemn slavery outright, but he does expect slave owners to treat their slaves with respect and to set them free when possible (see Philemon). In Galatians 3:11 he declares that in the Kingdom there is no slave or free. Since we are trying to bring the Kingdom of God on earth, is this not the attitude we should take toward slavery? Today, modern societies have recognized that all forms of slavery are wrong whether it is the slavery of domestic workers, field hands, soldiers, or sex workers. So let us stand with God against slavery, against abusing people, against seeing others as inferior to ourselves.
For Reflection: Is there any way in which I have treated another person as a slave? Have I withheld wages? Have I coerced someone to do what I wanted? Have I failed to grant another freedom when I could have? Have I considered someone to be my inferior?
Let us pray. Jesus, I repent of all the ways in which I have participated in slavery and I ask you to forgive me. I stand with you now against slavery in all of its forms throughout the world. I stand with you in declaring an end to slavery. I want to be part of bringing your light to the darkness of this issue. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Often in my prayers I have pictured God standing with me on a certain issue that I am praying about. But I began to think the other day, what if we were to stand with God on God's issues, rather than asking him to stand with us on ours. If we were to take this approach, what issues do we know that God absolutely stands for?
If you have read this blog for very long, you know that I believe that God absolutely stands for healing people. I say this because Jesus healed everyone who asked him, and many who didn't ask. It is not recorded in Scripture that Jesus said, "No, I am sorry, but I'm not going to heal you." Nor does he say, "Today is not your day for healing, maybe tomorrow." Jesus did not turn people away when it came to healing. So I think we can reasonably say that God stands for healing people no matter what kind of sickness they suffer (Luke 4:16-21). We can reasonably know God's will on this issue: He wants to heal people.
Why then are not all people healed when we ask God for healing? I suppose we won't know until we get to the Kingdom what stood in the way of a particular healing, but we can be sure the fault lies with us, not with God. And when God explains to us why the healing did not occur, we'll probably smack ourselves on the forehead and say, "Why didn't I see that?"
For Reflection: Can we, do we, stand with God on this issue of healing? What does it look like to stand with God? How does it feel to stand united with God on an issue?
Let us pray. Jesus, I stand with you on the issue of healing. I stand with you on healing (fill in the name of the person). I believe that you want this healing to occur. If there is anything I can do to bring about this healing more quickly, please let me know what it is. I am standing with you for this healing.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.