Prayer: When God Gets the Last Word

Our toughest prayers are not from crisis, but those that are squeezed out of slow anguish and confusion. Crisis prayers are simple, straightforward, pleas for rescue. Hurt and confused prayers are different – they are messy. We say things we later regret. And for that reason our loving God graciously takes charge and gets the last word.

Twice with Jonah, God uttered the last word. Jonah got angry, twisted, and depressed, and asked God to kill him (Jonah 4:1-3). Jonah, giving us excellent example of faith, does not hide from God, but rather spills all his emotional mess out before his Creator. God answered with a question that stopped Jonah short, and kept him from going too far and turning away from God. May God always get the last word if it keeps us on the right path. Then God gave Jonah time … pleasantness to recharge emotionally, followed by petty trouble to bring out Jonah’s selfishness again. And out it came, in all its honest neurosis, “I have a right to be angry about the vine! I am angry enough to die!” Then God got the last word again. So perfect and beautiful and healing were God’s last words, that they served as the perfect ending for the book of Jonah. With love, gentleness, and the wisdom of a surgeon’s scalpel, God turned Jonah’s distress into beauty and glory.

Similar last words are found in God’s response to Job’s “Why?” and Elijah’s “Let me die!” Job received from God grand pictures of God’s glory, and it was enough (see Job 38-41). Elijah received time, food, a new experience, then finally what Elijah desperately needed – a plan to end his ministry without disgracing his Lord (see I Kings 19).

Take your hurts and confusion to God. If he gets in the last word, you will be glad!

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