There are no atheists in foxholes.
I would say there are very few in hospitals either.
Life-threatening situations determine the stuff you are made of. Jesus makes this point in Matthew 15:18, when He is explaining what is really unclean vs. clean to His Disciples. Truly, life shows us that you can't control your environment, you can only control your reaction to it - for better or worse.
So when bad things happen (and they will), I estimate there are three possible responses or "deals" we make.
1. We turn to God, shake our fists and demand He fix it.
2. We try and negotiate a way out that best suits us.
3. We surrender to His will and wait on Him to reveal His purpose.
The first response, while very human, in the long run will leave us worse for wear. Anger, like gangrene, will fester and start to kill us from the inside. We turn into bitter shells of who we once were - turning in the opposite direction of God and all that He has for us.
The second response is also quite human. It is a step in the right direction because we are turning to God. We are looking to Him for answers. But they are not His answers. We are not looking for His deliverance, but rather results that meet our expectations. It is self-focused. When we say "Do this for me God and I promise I will....."
We fill in the blank with giving up a bad habit or finally giving money to the church or the poor. It is usually something we think will please Him - an acceptable sacrifice. It is, we think, an offering that will sweeten the pot in God's eyes. It should be enough to get Him to wave His magic wand and get us out of whatever bad situation we happen to be in and go back to our lives.
But the reality is - we do not serve a Cosmic Profiteer. He is not an arbitrary Deity who looks for the best return on His investment or how He can squeeze more out of us when the going gets rough.
Our deal, as followers of Christ, is the third option. The least popular and often the road less taken. Our deal is not based on what we can give up or do better. Our deal is based upon The Lord Himself - which He announces to Abraham in Genesis 15. The promises He made then apply today, if we have faith in their fulfillment through Jesus' life, death and resurrection.
That doesn't stop us from asking for deliverance from difficult situations. But the key is the heart position. If we are focused only on how His actions will make us feel - our hearts are not in the right place.
The deal we made at our own salvation was to trust and wait and have faith in Him alone, not our emotions or current situation. That often means we have to walk a line contrary to what is going on around us.
When Sophia lay sleeping in my arms around 10:30 pm, on 10/10/10, I prayed. This was just after we found out the reason for her eye issues was a "mass" but not yet knowing what that mass was.
In one of the defining moments of my spiritual life, I told The Lord I would praise Him - even if the mass was cancer.
If I had another mindset, I should have eaten those words. It wouldn't be hard to become bitter. It wouldn't be hard to wheel and deal our way out of this - what is more noble than negotiating for your four year old's life?
It certainly didn't mean later when it came to pass that I didn't think about taking them back. But my faith in Christ is not based on how I feel at any given moment. I know, like Abraham, my faith is being tested. The ongoing health of my marriage, the emotional and physical well-being of both my girls, my relationships with extended family and friends - it is all being stretched, often painfully.
Over and over again, I must put my family on His altar, just wondering if this time, the ram won't show up.
But this is not the Old Testament altar of sacrifice. This is the New Testament deal Jesus created. It is the altar of surrender. I must surrender the outcome of this situation to His design. I must lay them down and let Him pick them up.
This is God's deal - to make any situation beautiful. That is what He means when He says He has overcome the world.
So, again I say - Alex, I'll take door number 3.
What kind of deal have you made?