Jesus was barred entrance to my life because I didn’t need Him. It was only when things fell apart that I was willing to listen. Great failure and sad circumstances brought me to my knees. However, it took years before I realized that ‘hard times’ are often part of His plan to do the same for others.
When I pray that others will yield to Jesus, God has had to teach me that the means He will use to do it is none of my business. For some, His goodness will lead them to repentance. For others, it may require trials. That means I should be careful how I pray. I want people to experience God’s grace, yet at times I should not pray for ‘peace, joy, and safety’ if He plans to use ‘distress, sorrow, and calamity’ to bring someone to the foot of the cross.
The first time that I prayed “whatever it takes” that person suffered great calamity. I was shocked. For a long time, I didn’t pray like that again, even though good eventually came out of those trials.
Later, a burden for the spiritual well-being of others became strong so I began again to ask God to do ‘whatever’ so as to change the hearts of someone who resists Him. This is not an easy prayer.
Chambers takes a situation and quote from the life of John the Baptist to discuss this same issue.
And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:26–30)
Chambers says that whenever I see someone in my sphere of influence who is drawing near to God, I might also see trials and struggles in their life. If I do, I’m to “pray that they grow ten times stronger until there is no power on earth or in hell that can hold (them) away from Jesus Christ.”
That means to stop asking God to ‘fix’ their trials and restore their comfort, but instead pray He will use those trials for His purposes and their eventual good. If I do otherwise, I’ve become an “amateur providence” that tries to prevent God’s plan, and who steals from others their hope of knowing Jesus.
It sounds a bit hard-hearted, but I cannot put up sympathy for others as a barricade for the Holy Spirit. I am responsible to be a friend of the Bridegroom, rejoicing when I hear Him, and glad that my prayers and influence can point someone to Him, even if that person turns totally from me and never thinks of me again.
Chambers ends with this: “Watch for all you are worth until you hear the Bridegroom’s voice in the life of another. Never mind what havoc it brings, what upsets, what crumblings of health, rejoice with divine hilarity when once His voice is heard. You may often see Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it.”