As 2021 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on this past year and look ahead to the future. What emotions do you feel? Hope and excitement? Frustration or fear? Wishing for “normal?” Or perhaps you don’t know exactly how you feel yet, and that's okay!
Over the last few years, many of us have faced significant changes. Whether major, minor, positive or negative, changes call our expectations and assumptions into question. They illuminate our core needs for security, significance and belonging. When we don’t feel like there is a clear end or purpose to ambiguity, its weight can be debilitating.
Gail Hutchinson, a spiritual development consultant at Wycliffe, understands the challenges of navigating ambiguity and transition firsthand. She’s served for over 45 years with Wycliffe in various locations in Southeast Asia and the U.S. Gail is passionate about promoting and supporting the spiritual, emotional and relational wellbeing of fellow members of the body of Christ.
As you consider God’s calling on your life, whether in missions or elsewhere, change and transition are in your future. Below, Gail shares six prayers to help you process transitions in a healthy, biblical way.
Prayers From the Life of Paul
Living well amid the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with transition requires taking time to intentionally reconnect with ourselves, God and others.
When the apostle Paul was in prison, isolated and disrupted from his normal patterns and support systems, he wrote a letter to the Philippians. He shared about a perplexing transition full of ambiguity, affliction and loss. Despite all the hardships and distresses, Paul exhibited a life of undaunted joy, deep love, gratitude, unwavering hope in the Lord and compassionate connection with other believers.
Paul invites us to follow his example (Philippians 3:17; 4:9), and the following prayers are modeled after Paul’s practices. Pray them for yourself or others.
Take time to quiet yourself and pay attention to the Father’s loving presence as you reflect on the following:
1. The Practice of Remembering
In the midst of uncertainties, Paul often took time to remind himself and others about what is certain and true. He showed us how important it is to intentionally remember the presence, promises, power and provision of God through Christ Jesus. Paul also invited others to remember this with him.
Pray: “Father, how might I remember what is certain and true — your nature, your presence, your love, the ways you've worked in the past and the people you've brought into my life?”
2. The Practice of Receiving
Instead of being defensive or ashamed of insufficiency, Paul trusted fully in God and saw every lack in his life (and in the lives of others) as an opportunity to experience God’s grace more fully. He also saw it as an opportunity to receive one another, care for one another and reflect the gospel message.
Pray: “Father, how might I experience your grace more fully by receiving the gifts you’re giving me right now? These gifts include your forgiveness, help from others, care, comfort, this opportunity for growth and the fellowship of Christ.”
3. The Practice of Reconsidering
Paul took time to process various circumstances and situations in light of what he remembered and received from God. He showed us how important it is to intentionally and prayerfully adjust our perspectives.
Pray: “Father, what perspectives and practices in my life might I need to be willing to hold onto, let go of or adjust as I look to you?”
4. The Practice of Wrestling
Paul didn’t minimize his struggles and never let his earnest desire and zeal for the Lord be dampened. He showed us how important it is to prayerfully wrestle through unmet expectations and feelings. He demonstrated how to prayerfully struggle against despair, loneliness and disillusionment. Paul also prayed through longings and passions, and ultimately he showed us how to pray for hope.
Pray: “Father, how might I be honest with myself and you, earnestly grappling with the longings, struggles, disappointments, loneliness and mixed feelings within and around me?”
5. The Practice of Reconciling
After openly struggling through losses, conflicts and disappointments, Paul consciously entrusted all that remained unresolved to Christ. He showed us how important it is to prayerfully and intentionally reconcile with God when unresolved difficulties undermine our faith. He demonstrated how to reconcile with others based on the oneness we have in Christ, and also reconcile ourselves to all that God provides.
Pray: “Father, as I return to you, how might I continue to know you, trust you and let your loving presence be enough — even in areas that still seem unresolved, challenging or baffling?”
6. The Practice of Rejoicing
Along with practicing the art of learned contentment, Paul consistently rejoiced in the Lord and in his relationships with his brothers and sisters in Christ. He rejoiced in his sufferings, in the gospel, in community and in anticipation of resurrection glory.
Pray: “Father, how might I grow in a spirit of restored hope, joy and delight, celebrating you as your deep love and presence is made known more fully within me and around me?”
God in the Midst of Ambiguity
Change is an invitation to know God better. Our disorientation reminds us of our frailty, our need for one another and our utter dependence on God. By reconsidering our assumptions and discovering new ways of seeing and being, we open the way for fresh encounters with the living God.
Through staying connected with God in the midst of ambiguous life circumstances, he draws us increasingly deeper into his love. He transforms us to be more like him, enabling us to then share the richness of God’s glory and goodness with others.