I have a recurring dream. I am frantically trying to get someone’s attention to help me escape an impending catastrophe. I try to speak, and the words come out sounding like a soundtrack that got jammed up at such slow speed that my words are intelligible and the person I am trying to urgently communicate with is oblivious to my danger. I get so upset and anxious at their disregard for my need that I usually wake up in a hyper state. It is frustrating when we try to communicate and there is no acknowledgment or response. Do you ever feel like that when you pray? Like perhaps God doesn’t care? Like He is not listening? Like maybe He isn’t really there?
Last week I wrote about our most important FaceTime being the time we spend communicating with God. It strengthens our relationship with Him and helps us know His mind and the way that He loves us. Jesus spent MUCH FaceTime with God, His Father. Additionally, the Bible says in Hebrews 2 that Jesus experienced everything that we do, so He is understanding and compassionate – even with prayer. Jesus, just like us, knew how it felt when His prayers were not answered in the way that He would have liked. One example of this is when He prayed just before the crucifixion: “If possible, let this cup pass from me.” His prayer was specific and yet submissive to His Father: “BUT NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS.” In that moment, did He think that God didn’t care? God had a REASON for not honoring Jesus’s request, but it wasn’t that He didn’t care. It was because, in fact, He cared so much. I’m sure He would have LOVED to spare His Son that suffering! However, if God had taken the crucifixion of Jesus away, we would have no way to pay for our sins, to have a relationship with our Creator, or to be with God in heaven. And so, He allowed Jesus to drink that cup. But be ASSURED, He did not LEAVE Jesus to slug through the muck alone. He promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Jesus also knew how it felt when it seemed God didn’t hear His prayer. When He was in agony hanging on the cross, He shouted, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” Can you hear the desperation? Perhaps you are feeling it right now, for yourself. But there was a REASON for God’s perceived silence. Our perfect and holy God had to look away from all of the sins that Jesus had on Him. My sins. Your sins. Until they were all paid for. Then God could receive Jesus back when His Son uttered the sweet prayer of re-established connection: “It is finished.” “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” God heard and was poised and ready to answer as sin and death were defeated! Sin separates us from God, but through Jesus, we are received back to the loving arms of our Father who hears, and waits for us to reach for Him.
Remember King David? GOD called Him a man after His own heart. But there were times he felt God was distant. David’s boss, the king, tried to kill him. At one point in time, his own son was trying to steal his throne and kill him. During these times, David poured out his heart in “lament” to God. He wrote these cries down in several of the Psalms (12, 13, 22, 23, 44, and 51 just to name a few.) God never told Him to quit whining. Instead, God heard and made sure these laments were included in the Bible so that we could see that God cares and IS listening when we hurt.
And God wastes NOTHING! Romans 8: 28 tells us that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who have been called for His purpose. The closer our relationship to God, the more insight we have into God’s use of pain for good. Just as with our super close friends, we know what they are thinking because we know them so well …it is the same with God. Then, on occasion, we still just won’t understand. God’s ways are higher than ours. In these times, we just have to trust this valued friend who sees the whole picture, who loves us so much, and has our ultimate best in mind.
God not only hears us, He cares more than we know because He loves us more than we can fathom. “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:38-39