The date today is June 11, but the date that’s really on my heart is July 4. I know that might sound strange.
And this might sound stranger, but bear with me: while praying a few days ago, I felt a heavy burden in my spirit. Intercessors, those who feel it is their calling to pray for others consistently and intensely, know this burden in the spirit.
With that prayer burden came something else: a sense of urgency. It felt unusually strong. Although I know faith is never based on feelings, I believe the Lord can place strong impressions on our spirits to point us in the right direction in our intercessory work.
This was my "strong impression": in the first week of July, I believe God is going to do a deep work in the hearts of millions of people across America. The spiritual aspect of it may not be a work that is visible or heard -- perhaps more like an aquifer, a deep undercurrent, surging beneath the ground -- but I believe it will be a major turning point for our nation as we heal from grievous wounds.
As I was praying and feeling this urgent burden for America, one particular picture began playing in my mind like a looping film reel. It is the night of the 4th of July, and fireworks are going off gloriously in the sky in Washington D.C. -- as it does every year -- but instead of gazing at the fireworks with “oohs” and “aahs,” all the people in the crowd are on their knees in silence with tears streaming down their faces.
They’re quietly weeping.
I'm optimistic: I'm praying for another Great Awakening, or at least the beginning rumblings of one. But my heart fears that it's a warning that something traumatic could be on the horizon, and God is urging us to remain alert, to hold fast to God's Word that says: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8, NKJV).
We need to pray for America urgently and increase our intercessory fervency and frequency this summer. This is not the time to grow weary or lazy in our prayer lives. Prayer in the name of Jesus is extremely powerful. I've seen it change impossible situations. Of course, that is always good advice -- to pray more -- but perhaps God gave me this "impression" to simply remind others of something that we so often neglect.
God is going to move throughout America in the midst of her trials and tribulations, and even if America staggers with pain, God will take the things that people intended for evil and use them for good instead. No matter what lies ahead for America -- only God knows -- I know this: God is going to comfort many people who are in pain and full of fear. And there will be a new openness and a new hunger for Him.
And my specific prayer today is that millions of people across the country will open their hearts to Jesus and hear the name of Jesus with new ears as if they’d never heard His name before. When we humble ourselves and lay down our pride, when we approach the throne of God through that special covering of grace and mercy -- through the Cross that makes us clean in God’s sight -- something miraculous happens. We're able to commune with God and interact with Him. We can have a relationship with Him.
We can pour our hearts out to Him.
And as we pour our hearts out to Him, we will discover something astonishing: God records every tear we cry. He does not take our suffering lightly. That's what the Bible teaches. In fact, it says He does three things when He sees our pain:
1. He gathers it.
That’s right, He gathers our suffering -- as odd as that sounds.
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8, NKJV)
Every tear you've ever cried is placed in a bottle. Of course, this is meant symbolically/spiritually, but the truth still rings loudly: God never lets a single ounce of pain fall from your heart unnoticed and uncounted by His ever-watchful eyes. Jesus confirmed this truth in Matthew 10:30,31: "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (NIV).
2. He records it.
Elsewhere, the Bible says that God “remembers” us when we cry out to Him. I always thought that was weird, like when in Genesis it says that “God remembered Noah.” Did God forget Noah was there? No, of course not. The Hebrew word is "zakar." It's the same word used for “remember” in Gen. 30:22 when God “remembered” Rachel who was crying out for a child because she was barren, and then God granted her a child. One of the other meanings of “zakar” is “to record” -- in other words, God had recorded Rachel’s cries of pain to Him, and then responded at the right time.
He keeps a very close record of anything that has ever hurt you. He knows more about your pain in your life than you do. In fact, God remembers more of your pain than you do.
3. He re-purposes it.
He is not only recording your suffering because He loves you, but He is gathering it up -- perhaps in a spiritual sense that is a bit mysterious -- and storing it up like a precious commodity because He has a bigger purpose for it that will affect far more people than just you: "…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
So no matter what storm clouds lie in your future and in America's future, take heart. Don't give up. You have a Creator who not only knows you by name, but He records your tears and has every hair on your head numbered.
And that is an encouraging thought.