In episode 2 of Hope for Anxiety and OCD, I had the opportunity to interview my own pastor. We discussed how people with anxiety and OCD wrestle with having these disorders and not receiving healing from God for them. He shares his own experiences of how his prayer life has grown and developed over the last several years. Pastor Troy discusses prayers that were answered and how he handles the ones that weren’t.
- How Pastor Troy went from falling asleep to engaged during his time with God in the morning
- Receiving the call to plant a church and the unexpected miracles along the way
- How praying to God when you are mad or distressed increases intimacy
- Doubts and questions during prayer
- Hope for unanswered prayer
Resources and links:
Transcript of Unanswered Prayers for Healing with Pastor Troy Powell
Welcome to Hope for Anxiety and OCD Episode 2
I am your host Carrie Bock. Today, we’re going to be talking with Pastor Troy Powell, who is the pastor of Victory church. I have really been so blessed to be a part of the Victory family for the last couple of years. This was my first interview on the podcast.
I was super nervous even though I was already interviewing somebody that I knew and knew a lot of the stories that he was going to share. Today, we’re going to be diving into a lot of different issues like how do you develop a prayer life? How do you handle frustrations and disappointment with God when you’re praying?
What in the world do we do with unanswered prayer, especially surrounding healing from anxiety or OCD. So, if you have been praying for God to take your anxiety away and there’s no relief in sight, this episode is absolutely for you. Unfortunately, the audio for this episode is not the greatest. We had a big Tennessee thunderstorm roll in at the time that we were recording this.
You may hear some thunder in the background. I know that our editor has done the best that he can on his end to improve the sound quality. Please don’t judge our show by episode 2 audio. The content was so good that I didn’t want to scratch it. I really wanted to be able to provide an opportunity for you guys to hear this stuff because it’s just really good.
Pastor Troy’s Journey to Becoming a Pastor
Carrie: Welcome to the podcast.
Pastor Troy: Excited to be here.
Carrie: In church backgrounds, we call our pastors all kinds of different things. Sometimes, people will say like, “Brother Troy”, or typically we call you Pastor Troy, but recently you’ve really embraced this new nickname of PT. I’m curious about how that came about?
Pastor Troy: Pastor Troy has been weird for me in a way. I’m not heavily educated in that theology realm. I’ve got a little bit of theology background and I’ve always just been a servant leader at the church. So when the day came to be called Pastor Troy, that was weird for a while. Plus, I’m from Memphis and there’s a rapper named Pastor Troy. Don’t go buy any of his CD’s. They’re not good. A quick, funny story- there was a Cat’s Music that on the sign out front had like Pastor Troy on it because he had a new album out. The children’s pastors and all the kids were showing in the church, “What are you doing in the Cat’s Music?” and I was like, “Don’t go to Cat’s Music.” I didn’t even know who it was, maybe Jamal or somebody just kind of quickly said, “PT” and that sticks because it’s quicker and it’s easier to say. I love it because it’s both respectful, but at the same time, relatable and kind of chill. So, you can really have a good conversation with somebody.
Carrie: Cool. So tell us a little bit about the journey to becoming a pastor and planting Victory church.
Pastor Troy: I’ll try to do the smallest critical, condensed version of that. I didn’t go to church, didn’t know anything about the Lord till about 17. I sat beside a young man in a math class at school. He started talking to me and we found out that we both liked basketball and so on.
He invited me to his church where they played basketball and long story short, I just fell in love with the environment. The people were super nice. Our kind of tagline at our church is “You’re here on purpose because you have a purpose.” I’ve always known there was a better purpose to life than just give money or become famous or whatever. I could never find that. I worked jobs. I’ve worked them for a day or an hour and quit cause I was like, “What is the purpose of this?” I started going to church for girls, basketball, the food, and all that kind of stuff. The more I stuck around, the more I started to realize, “Hey, there’s something to this.”
Long story short, God grabbed me, held onto me, and then I just said, “Hey, this is what I want to give my life to.” So, I started stacking chairs at the church, that kind of thing, and one by one, the opportunity would open when I’d walk to the door.
Long story of how I got from there to at the time I was the Executive Pastor of our church in Memphis. I just felt this weird, we couldn’t explain that at the time, but it was this urge, this calling in our heart to shepherd people, to pastor people. My two pastors, Matt and Ron Woods would tell us “You’ve got an anointing on your life to be a pastor.” We didn’t know what that meant. We love to counsel our friends. We love to teach the Bible, love to preach the Bible on any Sunday. It was just amazing. We loved pastoring people to our pastor’s vision. We loved shepherding people and we always did it from another pastor.
God Called Pastor Troy To Plant A Church
That was the assignment God had for us, but we just knew that there was a time coming where we would be pastoring our own church. It was just kind of a moment where the church was going in a certain direction. We didn’t really want to go in that direction personally. We knew something was changing for us. We went to our pastor and said, “Hey, this is what’s going on” and our pastor said, “Have you ever considered planting a church?” and we were like, “We didn’t know anything about it.” The more he described it, I said, “That sounds terrible.”
I have to quit my job, raise funds, move my family, get my kids out of school, sell my house, move somewhere potentially that I’ve never been. Then, beg people who don’t know me to give up their life for something. That sounds completely like the hardest thing you could possibly do.
So I said, “No, there’s no way I’m doing it.” And he said, “Well, go with me to a conference,” and I said, “Sure.” So he took me to the conference and the Lord confirmed through a particular preacher that day.
That’s what was happening. She (spouse Darla) had to stay at home because we had small kids. At the altar, at this place, I was crying because I know that God has called us to do this. I didn’t know she was watching the same service online at home in the kitchen and she’s crying at the same time. She’s texting me after it was over and she goes, “We’re doing it” and I was like, “Yes, we are.”
We knew from that moment forward this will come up. There were a lot of hardships and hurdles to jump but we never lost faith. In fact, we were supposed to do it because of the way that we didn’t want it. We didn’t see it as an opportunity to be the leaders or something. We didn’t see it as the opportunity to get more money or to be finally the person, the boss. We just saw it as an opportunity to walk where God had us and we knew it. Again, He kind of dragged us at first, but as we fell into that place and said yes, the doors started swinging wide open. There’s no doubt in my heart that this is what God’s called us to do.
Carrie: I like two things about that story that you shared. One is like the sense that you had other people in your life that confirmed God’s vision for your life. I think sometimes it’s easier for other people to see it and we catch that up later like God speaks to us over time and it’s like maybe that is really valid what that person is trying to say. I definitely can relate to times where I told God, “No” and He was like, “nN, you’re really doing this.”
Pastor Troy: I heard a guy say one time that we struggle seeing the anointing or the calling on our lives because we’re the only person we can’t see. Everybody can see us. Everybody can see that you’re gifted. Everybody can see that you’re beautiful. Everybody can see these things, but you don’t see it. As much as that happens with a woman who’s beautiful and is insecure about her beauty, it happens with an individual who is anointed to do the work of God but just doesn’t see it like everybody else sees it. Like you said, it’s valuable when you have somebody in your life, people who are able to tell you, “You are called to do this. You can do it.”
Carrie: That’s good. I think it speaks to the value of the church and being a part of a community because more and more people are fleeing the church in a sense saying, “Hey, I want God but I don’t want anything to do with organized religion”, or “I’ve been burned in the past by churches and so I’m not going to have anything to do with that aspect of my faith.” I think it’s unfortunate because we miss out on so much when we do that.
Building Relationship Is Vital In Church Planting
Pastor Troy: It is very unfortunate because number one, I just believe that the church is the hope of the world. Number two, I believe it is where you find that fellowship. We try to design Victory this way. We’re not perfect by any means but I always wanted to be a place where right off the bat, you come in the door and you’re welcomed. You belong before you believe. It’s not about your belief system. It’s not about your standards and all that.
Jesus went fishing like he’ll clean you after He catches you or however it works. You get people in the door and then you build a relationship with them and you get some relationship equity. Then, as you build relationship equity, you’re able to have those conversations about, “Here’s what the Bible says about this. Here’s what the Bible says about that.” Then, of course, you’re preaching the whole time and allowing the Holy Spirit to do that.
Don’t get me wrong, every Sunday before you start trying to essentially change somebody’s life, maybe the way they’ve been living it for 20 years, you may want some relationship equity first so there is weight behind that where you’re saying, “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t do this. Maybe you shouldn’t do that” because of that relationship. That’s where I think the church has got off a little bit as you walk in the door and they’re telling you what you shouldn’t do, and you’ve already got a blow-up. So, you turn around and leave to where they would build a relationship, love you through the way somebody loved them.
I’ll jump off the subject of this. When I started coming to our church in Memphis, which was called Raleigh Assembly of God, I was so far away from God. People, specifically Ron and Timmy Kennemore, they’ve been at our church multiple times. They’ve been there at every birthday. They were there for the launch. They parented me. They wrapped their arms around me and loved me and I was not lovable, but they did. That to me was a picture of Christ. That’s I believe what the local church can do and can be if people are willing to let it use them that way.
Carrie: That’s awesome. I think relationship is really a key and really important in any change. Sometimes the kindest thing that we can do for people is to speak up and say, “Hey, you’re going down the wrong path” or “You’re on the path of destruction and let me guide you over here and that’s going to lead you to the path of life.”
Taking The Prayer Relationship To A Different Level
One of the reasons I wanted to have you on the podcast was to talk about your prayer life and how it’s grown and developed to where you are now. Can you share a little bit about that story?
Pastor Troy: Certainly, this is one of my favorite stories to talk about simply because I think it’s one that God uses.
So again, I get saved. I’m very young and immature in Christ. I just start serving God and I was serving because I was around, I ended up in circles with more spiritual, mature people. I was a janitor at the church. I was an assistant to different staff members. I just kind of do that whole deal but I’d always struggled with having a consistent prayer life. I would hear people talk about their quiet time or their time with the Lord or when they read, pray, whatever they called it. I wanted it bad but I just couldn’t do it. There was the hurdle of not quite understanding it but as I grew up and as I stayed in the church, that kind of got fixed, but part of it was just, I would try hard and I just couldn’t do it. I’d wake up in the morning and I’d go in the living room and I’d fall asleep trying to do it. I’m not a morning person. I like to get up in the morning, but I don’t wake up and go like, “Oh right.” I don’t drink coffee, so I don’t have any kind of immediate wake-up. I remember when Darla and I really started talking about doing this, planting this church which was probably a year and a half to two years before we actually moved to do it. I just remember saying, “Alright, something’s got to change.” I’ve got to take that prayer relationship to a different level and I know, again, I’d wake up in the morning, I’d go in the living room. I’d sit on the floor, get my Bible out, and then, I’d fall asleep. It was just not working.
Hearing God’s Answer Audibly
Interestingly enough at the same time, I had gained some weight through the stress of ministry. That’s a whole another podcast. She (Darla) said, “You need to get in the gym.” I’d never been at the gym and so I said, “Fine, I’m going to the gym and lose some weight.” So I go to the gym one night and I’m walking into the gym, and I don’t even know what to do. I don’t know how this machine works.
People are looking at me like I’m weird simply because of God. I turned around and my brother-in-law, Darla’s brother, is walking in the door and I’m like, “I didn’t know you work out here.” and he’s like, “yeah.” And I was like, “Man, is there any chance we could work out together? I don’t know what I’m doing today.” He said, “Sure, but normally I’m here at five o’clock,” and I was like, “That’s no big deal” and I think it was like six-thirty or seven o’clock at night. He goes, “No, no, I’m only here at 5:00 AM.” I was like, “Oh, I thought there was only one five on the clock.”
I’ve never really heard the Lord audibly, but I can feel it so strong in my spirit that it sounds audibly. God says, “This is what you’ve been asking for,” and so I just said, “You know what, I’m going to do it. You’ll hold me accountable. I know you will and so I’ll come.”
Walking The Track With God
I don’t remember the exact day we started, but I get up at 4:30. I drink the pre-workout that he gave me. It’s kind of caffeine. I get in my car and drive to the gym. We worked out from five to six. Six o’clock, he leaves. We have a couple of the guys with us too. Six o’clock in the morning, I’m standing in the gym that’s almost empty, nothing but senior adults in it. I don’t normally wake up until seven so I’ve got an hour in time that I’m not normally not even up for.
They happened to have one of those tracks above their gym that went all the way around. So, I said, “Well, I’m just going to go walk.” I’m going to put on my headphones and I’m going to try to pray and I walked up there. I put my headphones into Christian music and I just walked and I just started talking to God.
I didn’t have a diagram. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a layout. I don’t even think I actually said a prayer during that first hour, but that hour flew by. I just talk to God as if me and Him were walking that track. There was nobody up there but myself and it was beautiful. It was great.
I felt better about myself. I felt excited to be able to say, “I prayed today,” and so I just started the process and kept it going. I don’t do it on Sunday mornings because normally we’re at church. If we’re on vacation, I won’t work out, but I’d still walk, pray, but I haven’t missed a day in five years.
Carrie: Wow. That’s awesome.
Listening To The Same Praise Worhip Music List Helps
Pastor Troy: Certainly, it’s matured. It’s grown. It changed my life. What it looks like now is I don’t have to get up as early. Praise God. I will do it if he ever calls me to do that again, but I will get to the gym, I’ll work out. Actually, now I pray first. I’ll get there, I’ll drink my pre-workout while I’m praying.
A couple of keys in case anybody’s listening and wants to model it, I listened to the same praise worship list or music list because I don’t want to be distracted by the song. I don’t want to be surprised. I don’t want the genre of music to change or to go from soft music to loud music or fast music. So, it’s the same. It’s almost like it’s white noise.
It drowns out the people that are around me. I now have a prayer request on my phone, different prayer requests that I marked cause I’m gonna show you something in a minute that I brought for this. That’d be pretty cool.
Carrie: That’s awesome.
Checkbox To Highlight Answered And Unanswered Prayers
Pastor Troy: I’ve now actually got an app on my phone where I can read the Bible now during that time as well, and take notes on what I’m reading. So in that whole hour, I start off thinking about God. I’ll go into my prayer requests. I’ll read my daily reading for that day. Of course, depending on what’s happening in my life, it kind of changes.
One thing I wanted to show you this, I don’t know if you’ll be able to see this at all, but this is the book I had when I first started doing my prayer. These are some of the prayer requests that I had written down. They can be very specific. I wish I could share this one day. I actually have my beard because I wanted to grow a beard so bad.
During this season, we had to sell our house. We had people moving with us. One of our guys lost his job. They said they were going to allow him to work, move to Nashville but work from Memphis. They fired him. We had to raise $175,000. Our water heater went out.
I had all these people. We had people who were asking to move with us. So, I had all these prayer requests and I just could not get that verse out of my mind, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” So I would pray over these things. The reason why they’re highlighted is that He answered the prayer.
My phone has a little checkbox that you get but what that does for me is it allowed me to go back and see all that God was doing. One of them that’s not highlighted on here because I had moved out of this book is church location. I moved on to a different book.
Carrie: That’s awesome.
Pastor Troy: It’s been life-changing for me. First of all, understand this about me, Carrie, I don’t like surprises. I like to set stuff up. I like my house. I want to clean the dishes, put the dishes in the cabinet and let them set there cleanly and I’d rather use a paper plate, never get them dirty. Like, I’m weird. I like stuff to be stable and so not only did I pick the number one career for my life to become unstable, but now I have to deal with everybody else’s lack of stability, right? If their mother becomes sick, if their job furloughs them, I’m now involved in that.
Experiencing God While Working Out Put Things Into Perspective
I have a lot of anxiety or I have potential for a lot of anxiety and this has been life-changing for me because every morning I go get my perspective right. I sit, I bring whatever it is I’m dealing with and then I give Him the actual day [00:19:00] and I can spend some time reading my Bible and worship if that day calls for it. When I go work out, I listen to podcasts and sermons while I’m working out. So it’s like a two-hour experience with God and by the time I leave, I am so jazzed for the day with a different perspective.
God Cares About Everything, Even Little Things Like A Hair Tie
Carrie: That’s awesome. I like that you prayed about your beard because I think there are some things that we really think, “Oh, that’s too small or it’s too insignificant” or “I can’t really bring that to the Lord.”
There was a story one time where I was on my way to the gym and I was like, “Oh, I forgot a hair tie” and I was like if I go through this workout class I’m just going to go crazy cause my hair is going to be flying everywhere and some really gonna bother me. I got there to the gym and I opened up the locker and there were two hair ties in there and I was like, “I know this is the Lord.” I know there were two because you had been preaching [00:20:00] about how God wants to do more in your life. I was like, “See, there it is, it’s right there.”
I love little things like that. God’s concerned about the details of our life. Yes, He’s concerned about our job and our health and our family and things like that but he’s also concerned about little stuff that most people would find insignificant or say, “You don’t really need to bother God with that.” I guess, so to speak. He’s not bothered by any of it.
Pastor Troy: Not at all. I have two kids, a 10-year-old and a five-year-old. The five-year-old is still really little and she still has a raspy voice. If that little girl asks me for anything, if she says daddy, “I can’t find my hair tie.” I will flip this house upside down to find it for her and on a second, I’d say. “We’ll just get another one” or “Hey honey, your hair’s fine down” but she wants it and your love for her drives you to find it. There’s a verse, I don’t remember the reference, but it talks about how a dad will not give [00:21:00] their son. I think it’s like a rock if they asked for a fish. So how much more would God not do that to us? If that’s the way I feel about Kacey Rae, how much more does God feel that way about me?
If I can get to that level of intimacy where not only am I asking Him for healing and provision, but I’m asking Him to give me a hair tie, that’s the level of intimacy that most people never get to.
God Does’nt Get Offended When We Are Mad At Him
Carrie: That’s awesome. So what do we do when we do pray about some of the big things? I look at things that have happened in my life. I lost my foster children. I lost my marriage and I remember specifically when I lost my foster children, I just said, “You know, God, I will live a thousand years and I will never understand why you allowed that to happen in my life.”
Do you feel like it’s okay for us to go to God with [00:22:00] things like doubt or questioning? If you could talk about that for a little bit.
Pastor Troy: Yes. First of all, I think that’s always the hardest part about having a consistent prayer life because if you have a consistent prayer life, you are eventually going to ask God for something that He doesn’t give. It’s just going to happen like“go ahead and mark it on.” I could find stuff in this book and some of the stuff are highlighted, but it’s not highlighted because He gave me the prayer. It’s highlighted because I didn’t get it. I just knew that was the answer.
Obviously, If I had the supernatural answer for why God does those things, I’d write a best-selling book, but I do want to say this to the direction you were going, during that time that I have in prayer, there’s often a time that I call the lamenting time. You go through the Bible, you see David do it. [00:23:00] You see Joseph, you see different men and women of God where there’s a season where they cry out and they’re angry at God and sometimes it lasts for only a short time. I think David when his son with Bathsheba dies, he cries out, he tears his clothes, and then you’ve done that and I’d get up and move on.
Here’s what I’ve learned from that, number one, God doesn’t shake or get offended or shiver when I get mad at him. I don’t get scared when my daughters get mad at me because I don’t let them do something they want to do. I understand the process. So as long as I’m communicating with them. I tell my kids all the time, “You don’t have to agree with me, let’s talk about it”.
A lot of times with God, I think what it is God’s saying, “That’s fine. Go ahead get it off your chest. Cry, yell a little bit, scream” like, “God I can’t take it.”
I think what He tries to teach us is that principle, I haven’t learned it quite to a level of excellence [00:24:00] yet, but the ability to cry, lament but once you’re done get up and move on.
Once there’s a moment that you have done that and you have had a perspective shift or you have had confidence now that for whatever reason God didn’t give it to you but God is on the throne, let’s move on. I think you and I both could name many, many moments in Memphis where now that I look back, I’m thankful God didn’t answer that prayer.
Carrie: Yeah, absolutely.
Lamenting To God Will Draw Us Closer To Him
Pastor Troy: There are still things that I will go to my grave probably wondering, “God, why didn’t you give that to me” “Why didn’t you make it easier?” That whole idea of God’s looking at the puzzle from the top and we’re looking at it piece by piece. I believe and I would love to assure anybody that in your prayer time with the Lord, do not hesitate to just let Him know how you feel. Do not hesitate. If you’re unhappy with something, tell him. If it didn’t go the way you want it to, [00:25:00] go get mad, scream, yell. I think He just draws us closer. I think He just continues to console us and lets us lament to Him so that we can get through that season and into a season of healing.
Carrie: There’s a certain emotional connection that comes about when you welcomed the emotion into the room. So like for example, in counseling, sometimes people have a hard time crying in front of me initially, but then when they do that, it’s a connecting point. I think the same is true of God. If we try to hide our feelings from Him or come to Him in some kind of pious religious way, then we’re missing that deeper layer of intimacy to say, “I’m hurting right now,” or “I’m mad at you” or “All of these emotions are here.” We just miss out on that connection.
Being Vulnerable with God Will Deepen Our Intimacy With Him
Pastor Troy: My wife and I don’t have a lot of fights, but we like to call them “intense conversations.” [00:26:00] Everyone we’ve ever had, if I look back on it, because of that conversation, we grew in our level of intimacy. When you’re angry, you’ll say things that you really feel. You may not say them in the best of ways, but you’re no longer beating around the bush. You’re no longer sugarcoating it. You are just, “You know what, here it is” and when those moments happen again, you can’t just turn around and walk out of the house and not talk about it. When handled correctly, I think that recovery from a fight or recovery from a disagreement, or whatever misunderstanding brings a new level of intimacy. I think it’s the same way with God. When we have that time, that intense conversation with God, we see once we get through it, there’s a higher level of intimacy.
Carrie: I agree. I think that’s great. It really goes back to prayer, being more about a relationship with God, [00:27:00] rather than this is something that I do because I’m obligated to do it or I pray in a certain way because that’s what I was taught at church.
I know for me for a long time, I wasn’t really honest in my prayer life, not at the gut level, honest place and I think that difficulty with being vulnerable with God and being vulnerable with other people really scented my spiritual growth in a way. When I went through difficult things and tragedy, my prayers got a lot more gut-level honest to where I could be real. That drew me closer to the Lord in the end even though I wasn’t happy with the process of having to go through those things.
Pastor Troy: I think you hit it on the head. I think that the number one foundation has to be laid out is that prayer life has to be way more about having relationship with God and less about a religious process or even a means to an end. It’s not I’m doing [00:28:00] it so that I can get A, B or C. A lot of days where I don’t even pray a prayer request. I just talk through what I’m going through. I just talk through what I’m thinking and my insecurities and all those kinds of things and I feel better. I didn’t even ask for anything. God may answer one of those prayer requests that day because obviously, I’ve prayed about it before, but it’s about having that daily meeting.
The Bible talks about being at a level with God where you are revealed the mysteries of God. I really think that the more we can get close to God in an intimate level where we get to a place where our prayer time is more about just hanging out with him than it is about a means to an end, when you keep it regular.
God always knows where to find me and my wife will talk about this, anytime she’s praying about something that she wants God to move in my heart, she’ll pray in the morning when I’m at the gym because she knows I’m in [00:29:00] conversation with God. God wants to do anything. If God wants to speak something to me, He knows where to find me.
I said this at church recently, when all of the COVID-19 stuff hit and we weren’t allowed to go to the gym, I walked and ran outside around my neighborhood and prayed. I remember praying about COVID-19, praying for our church, praying for people who had lost jobs and so on and so on. I remember saying to the Lord, “I’m so glad this isn’t the first time you’re hearing from me. I’m so glad that because the world’s upside down and all of a sudden I’m talking to you. I’m glad that for five years, I’ve been talking to you when it was a Saturday when all we had to do was lay around the house and play games when it was the best of best days, I was praying to you that morning.”
I’m glad that that’s the routine I’ve put in place, which in result has created an intimate level of relationship which I think has unlocked some of God’s mysteries.
When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers…
Carrie: That’s good. A little bit about this in terms of unanswered prayer. I just wanted to address maybe for people that are listening [00:30:00] out there who would say, “I’ve prayed for healing for my anxiety” or maybe they’re having debilitating panic attacks on a regular basis. Maybe they’re struggling with OCD which can impact people’s connection, ability to pray, relationship with God. So for somebody who said, “I’ve been praying for God to take these things away and I’ve been praying for healing and I haven’t received it and I’m just so discouraged by that”. What would you say to encourage them?
Pastor Troy: That’s a great question. Obviously, every situation is going to be different, right? Because of that particular situation, how long have they been in it? Throughout the Bible, you’re seeing so many people healed and delivered. I think we automatically fall in that vein that we think prayer should bring healing and deliverance right.
About Bob, we may not forget about what he went through. The person I immediately think about that I think would allow me to bring some encouragement in this area. [00:31:00] is Paul. When Paul says “I’ve got this thorn in my side, and I’ve been praying for God to take it away once, twice, three times and God has not removed it.”
I think that’s such a funny situation because Paul is such an incredible man of God who has given his life to the kingdom of God, asking for this little thing to be delivered and God doesn’t do it. I heard a preacher say one time, the reason that they don’t identify the thorn is so that you and I could apply whatever our thorniest into that, as if it was a blank. The part that I don’t hear preached about enough is when Paul’s talking about the thorn. He says a couple of lines in there that reveals that what it’s doing is keeping him in humility, but also bringing him to the feet of Jesus.
The best way I can explain this is with this illustration: four years ago, five years ago, [00:32:00] I had this extremely bad situation with kidney stones. I think they said it was like 13 kidney stones in both kidneys. I had a brand new baby. Kacy Rae was just born. My wife is dealing with a newborn baby by herself and I’m on medication painkillers, whatever it was, just enough to let me go to work. Six o’clock I was right back into pain so I would come home.
Darla would have the heating pad on the couch. I would sit on the couch and do nothing. She would handle a five-year-old and a newborn by herself. I would just sit on the couch looking at the TV. By seven o’clock, I was so miserable. All I want to do is go to bed. So I go to bed. I’d lay in the bed. I could hear her screaming at our kids, dealing with our kids’ crying.
[00:33:00] At two or three in the morning, I just go in the living room and watch Boy Meets World. It was miserable and this went on for like four months straight. It was just terrible. I prayed. Every second of every day and I pray like this, “God, you could snap your fingers and it would just stop right now, so why aren’t you?”
I could write down you a list, 10, maybe 20 things that God taught me through that experience. Had it not happened, I wouldn’t be the same. I wouldn’t be the same physically as far as fitness. I wouldn’t be the same in my marriage. I wouldn’t be the same in my intimacy with God. I would not be the same father.
I’ve preached a sermon before about taking my kids for granted and when they wanted to hang out and do something, I was like,” Oh, I’m too busy. Every time they said my name, I dropped what I was doing and went and spent time with them. So I say that if somebody is going like, “I need some hope and all these because God’s not taking it away from me,” instead of praying, “God, take it away from me” shift that. Still, pray by all means as Paul didn’t stop praying. Start praying, “God, what are you trying to teach me in this? What is the perspective you want me to see?” What are some things in that intimacy with Him? Again, like we were talking about earlier, you’re not going to Him with a means to an end. Now, it’s not we’re going out and talking to you so you will deliver me so that once I’m delivered from it, I’ll just move on because we all have that tendency that once our problems are fixed, we forget.
It’s a lot easier to stay on the other side because obviously, God did end up healing me. It could’ve been a lot quicker, but he did end up doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to belittle the situation because it’s just so much easier talking about it when you’ve been delivered from it. If I was going to give an encouragement, it would take some time to set up a [00:35:00] situation where you have an hour a day of prayer and for 15 minutes, pray that God would deliver you, even then for 45 minutes, pray that God would help you see why He hasn’t.
God’s Gift In Unanswered Prayers
Carrie: I try to remind myself, sometimes God’s always working. God’s doing something here, even if I don’t see what it is or I don’t know where this is going. Even in our culture of American and what’s happening right now between COVID-19, between race relations, God’s doing something in our nation.
If we are tapped in and we are tuned in and saying, “God, what are you doing in my life? What are you doing in my community? What are you doing in the nation and the world?” Then I think we’re going to be a lot better prepared to handle situations as they arise. They’re out of our control.
Pastor Troy: A hundred percent. It’s about stewardship, right? So you mentioned COVID-19, [00:36:00] I think God has got so many things that He’s going to do by the time all this is over both through the racial dividing and through COVID.
I’m going to use the COVID-19, for example, when it first hit, we went a couple of months, we couldn’t even leave our houses. The kids weren’t going to school. Not that any of that really changed, but it was really extreme. So number one, we had dinner meetings every night. We were meeting people every night, so we were never eating at home. That forced us that we can’t go to restaurants, so we’re cooking at home.
My back porch was just a bunch of junk piled up. Somebody had given me a free grill. I never even turned it on. So Darla and I took some time and we bought a swing and we cleaned it up and we cleaned the grill up and we got some plants and put out a table and long story short, four months later, every night, we have dinner with the kids. We’ll put them in bed and then we go sit on that porch and we just swing and we talk.
So my point is that God gives us these, whether we’re considering it a gift. So again, back to [00:37:00] Paul, he talks about the stone, he says, “God gave me that.”
Nobody’s going to consider COVID-19 a gift right now but if you allow the spirit of God to give you a little bit of perspective shift, again, not that any of those things are good, people being sick, people dying, small business, that’s all bad, and we need to do all we can to help. We’re a mess, whatever it might be, but there’s another side of it that says, “All right, God” I’m going to also look the other way and say, “What can change in a positive way as a result of this? What can I learn that makes me a better person.” Moving forward from what people would have considered a terrible situation.
Carrie: Right. There’s a gift in there at some point. I want to end our podcast time together. This has been really awesome. Some of the things that you’ve shared and topics that we’ve gotten into.
Pator Troy’s Story of Hope
I like to ask every guest, what is a moment of hope maybe that stands out for you, a time where you received hope [00:38:00] from God or someone else in a period of maybe a discouragement or time where you had a hard time moving forward?
Pastor Troy: There’s so many. I think of two big wins right off the bat though. I’ll try to say real briefly, the first one, which you’ve probably heard me talk about before, we had to raise $175,000 to launch our church and my dad’s blue-collar, “If you want money, you work for it.” That was really difficult for me to ask people and God actually kept providing so we were about $65,000 away from our goal and we decide that we’re gonna launch the church nine months earlier than we originally planned. We’re going to launch in September. We moved to January. So we kind of started panicking. We didn’t want to have to borrow money even though there are great organizations out there that will let you do that.
We wanted to launch debt-free and so we just didn’t know what we’re going to do. We have missed some deadlines for some of those applications and I remember just praying like, “God, I need something.” [00:39:00] Long story short, a pastor friend of mine whose church is kind of a parenting church of ours, called us up there for a video and totally pretended like it was one thing. Darla and I arrived and they handed us a check for $65,000. It’s moments like that, that it can only be God.
The second one, since I had this book, I was going to show you or read it to you cause I don’t have it memorized. So we were supposed to launch the church or plant the church. We felt that calling from that conference.
I’m trying to decide the name of the church and I’m getting kind of uneasy because we don’t know where we’re going. I’m starting to get to that point of like, “God did you really call us?” because all the people that I know are like, “Oh, God called us here.” Most people got called back to where they were born. At some point and God called them back to it. We were leaving where both Darla and I were born. So there was no like, “Oh, we’re supposed to go [00:40:00] here.” I was just kind of getting to that point of doubt. I needed some hope.
I had to go to a conference that I didn’t want to go to. It’s normally a boring conference for me but my pastor made me go. So I said, “well, that’s fine.”
I’ll go but I’ll sit in the back and play candy crush and get through it. So we’re getting ready for the first night and the guy who’s speaking is like 80 years old.
So I’m like, “This is not going to be entertaining for me.” My pastor says, “come here” and he takes me to the front row beside him, and then before it starts, he gets a phone call and leaves. He leaves me on the front row by myself. So I can’t play candy crush because everybody’s gonna see. So I did what I had to do. I listened and I took notes. He preached this entire sermon and I forget the title of it, but he preached it. He just read the verse when he started off, Hebrews 11:8 and he reads this [00:41:00] “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
I just remember floodgates just because you can’t write a better script than that. You know what I mean? Like God knows that’s what I’m struggling with. It takes you to this place I don’t want to be and He makes me listen and that guy steps up, and that’s the first words he said.
It’s just a couple of, probably hundreds of moments that I could share with you where God has given me the little nuggets of hope to just keep me moving in the path that He’s got to move me on.
Carrie: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. I look forward to when we can see each other in person and all hug each other and all that good stuff at church, it’ll be a good day. We’ll probably all be okay.
Pastor Troy: That’s so true.
[00:42:00] I really hope that this episode blessed you as much as it did me and I am so thankful to be connected to a pastor who cares about and is in support of mental health.
You can reach me for show opinions and suggestions at our website hopeforanxietyandocd.com.
Hope for anxiety and OCD is a production of By The Well Counseling in Smyrna, Tennessee. Our original music is by Brandon Mangrum and audio editing was completed by Benjamin Bynam.
Until next time. May you be comforted by God’s great love.