What do you do when it seems God will not answer your prayer? Where do you go when you feel like you have asked and asked and he seems silent?
A good friend once told me that when you pray, in fact every time you pray something has to shift, something has to move. But what if it seems like nothing is changing, day in day out, season after season and year after year. That dream, that word your once had burning within you is fading away and you can feel it disappear into the background. It hurts because you can’t believe for it anymore. Daring to even believe it, hurts because now it just seems it’s mocking you.
That word you heard or thought you heard from God is fuzzy and you’re wondering if you told yourself what you wanted to hear? After all, God’s word does not return void, it will accomplish what he sets it out to do. So did you hear wrong, was it never God’s plan or purpose? Did you ask God for guidance but only up to the first corner and thought “God chill, I’ve got this, I can take it from here?”
I’ll admit I struggle with finding the balance between passive faith and not trusting God to take control of it all.
What happens when every time you scroll through Instagram and the come across posts from Wisdomfeed that tell you God is in control, God will do things at his own time and he’s never late. All you can do when you read this is sigh as a Christian because you don’t know how long you can hold on for. This is of course is followed by a wave of guilt, with all God has done for me, how can I be so ungrateful, unbelieving. How many times has he come through for me? The wave of shame that won’t let you process the disappointment you feel, that the miracle you have been waiting for still hasn’t come to fruition.
The worst part is you know that God is above it all, he is a God of miracles and he specialises in the impossible. You know he has not lost the recipe for manna, but right now you feel God will not provide. The question on your mind is God, why won’t you move? You have done it for plenty of people throughout the bible, throughout the ages and throughout my life, but right now where are you?
Is it really a question of God not providing, or you expecting him to provide in one way when he wants to provide in a different way? He wants to provide in a way that is new to what you are used to, to the norm. You are looking to the east waiting for the wind to blow through and bring change, but behind your back to the west there is a massive earthquake that God is using to reshape your landscape. He says look I’m doing a new thing in your life. Why do you expect God to be predictable? I remember a profound word by T D Jakes about “The ambidextrous God”.
God is always working, “his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely His.”
God is generational, you might have a short term goal but he’s thinking about how this particular thing will affect generations to come. Do you think Sarah had any idea about what God was going to do with the promised child she’d been waiting on her whole life? All she longed for was a child and she had to go through all her life with a promise, a promise that seemed it would go unfulfilled in her life. Perhaps like you and I, mostly she thought about how much joy a child would bring her in her lifetime. God had promised one and he’s a God of his word, but she’s now 99 and still waiting. Have you ever felt mocked? How mocked do you think Sarah felt to be holding on to a promise of childbirth at 99? Isaac was a long, hard, extremely painful awaited promise, that was so much more than Sarah could ever have imagined. God’s plan for the salvation of humanity was in this little miracle. Do you think Sarah would have felt better about the wait if she knew about the grand plan? Think about this, God chose to reveal his power by trusting the womb of 99 year old woman to give birth to what effectively culminated in the salvation of humankind through the eventual birth and death of Jesus Christ whose genealogy traces back to Isaac. Where God wants to move powerfully he creates miracles, but these miracles tend to demand a lot more faith and patience in us. Are we willing to be vessels and carriers of God’s promise to the lives of the people around us, to the generations that will come after us, our children’s children? That is going to demand sacrifice on our part, patience, sweat and tears, which if we entrust to God he will make into something glorious. This sacrifice requires nothing short of full surrender.
So is God ever really silent in our lives, or do we harden our hearts in certain areas of our lives when we don’t see things, the way God sees them? Is it that he is quiet or he’s not saying what we want to hear? He’s not working in the way we expect him to? Why do we want miracles with a formula? By definition a miracle is “an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency”. Once miracles get formulas, they stop being miracles, they become predictable and not extra-ordinary, by the very fact that we can explain them away.
I have over the past months asked, “God where are you?”, “Can you even hear me?” I can almost feel the heartbreak in Jesus’ voice when he says “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” How many times have you felt like that? Jesus validated that feeling, but you’re not to remain there, in a place of abandonment.
Isaiah 65 vs 24 – Before they call I will answer, while they are still speaking I will hear.
As I read the bible, I see the pain that all those people have gone through, and somehow through the pain God has always done something beautiful. Maybe there are people and stories in the bible whose stories are not laced with pain, but I haven’t read those bits yet. There will be pain, that’s unavoidable, what you do with the pain is what counts. What you hold on to and belief through the pain will sustain or destroy you. It will determine whether you grow or you shrink away.
Exodus 14:11-18 (NIV)
11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
I have been the Israelites in verses 11-12. I have been operating and thinking in lack because I have no idea what miracle God has in store for me. Is God stretching it it this far, to the realms of impossibilities, so he may gain glory through your pain? Do you really need a saviour if you can do it yourself? It’s time to throw away your timetable and well crafted, detailed plans!
“If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”– Habakkuk 2 vs 3