“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (John 11:41-42, Pg. 1039, NKJV).
Sometimes it feels like God isn’t anywhere to be found especially in the loneliness of the cold and still night. Deep within the gloomy recesses of our mind we feel a darkness come over us, a terrible nagging feeling that can only be described as being alone. For most people this is a scary thing, the realization of being alone, and being isolated within it. As this feeling slowly emerges and then swells taking over our inner most thoughts we become convinced that we are in fact truly alone. But the truth is though the room is dark and there might not be anyone around, you’re not alone. Your husband or wife may not be physically with you, holding onto to, sharing the best parts of their day, the truth is you’re not alone. Your child or children might not be with you, smiling, laughing, playing, or listening to your bedtime stories anymore, all of which warms a parents heart to no end, the truth is God is with you. We sometimes lack that spiritual confidence that Jesus had in abundance. He knew his father in heaven heard every single word, he never second guessed it, he never shied away from that special reassuring knowledge that God was with him, in everything he did, in every word he spoke, and in every action he took. When Jesus prayed he was reaching out to his Father that which yes, “technically”, was not physically present where He could be seen by everyone, but God is there spiritually. Jesus talked to God as if he could see Him, hear Him, and feel Him. Each word exuded confidence that he in fact was being heard. So it is no wonder that when our Savior prayed to God, he was also giving Him praise.
It is a wonderful thing I think, that we have such a loving God, that he does listen to each and every word we utter, how we uttered it, and what was going on in our mind that was responsible for how those words where selectively chosen before they came out of our mouth. God hears every whisper, every wish, and every salutation that is in our hearts. God listens so intently that He knows precisely how to calm each fear and He is ready to do so at a moment’s notice.
What so many of us fail to realize is that God only intervenes when we are ready for him to do so. That means we must give all we have, all our worries, and frustrations of this life willingly to him. We might pray and say, “Hello God…I am ready…where are you?” But he knows we are not ready even when we have convened ourselves that we are. Our words give us away; they betray our inner heart, and our doubts that God can’t possibly help us. The longer the perceived silence, the angrier we get at God. We get so worked up and over powered by the world, our life in the world, we stop believing, we stop listening, not to just God, but to everyone else around us. When we do this we become weak, and spiritually starved, because God can’t help you until you really want Him too, until you give it to him.
“43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with gravecloths, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:43-44, Pg. 1039, NKJV).
Lazarus died and Jesus was nowhere to be found. His sisters looked everywhere for Jesus and he did not come to heal Lazarus his good friend, before he died. The sisters became angry at Jesus, that he after hearing of Lazarus’s illness still took his time in coming. In fact it was if Jesus didn’t care about Lazarus at all. But Jesus had a plan. The salvation of the world was Jesus’ mission, and he used the death of Lazarus to bring so many people to God. Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus from the grave to please his sisters, to answer their prayers, but yet their prayers were answered because Jesus did come; Lazarus was resurrected from the dead. Jesus could feel their pain, their anguish, he heard their cries at the realization that Lazarus had passed away. When reflecting on this, the truth of the miracle comes to light. The one unshakable truth is that we are never alone. For God knows all things, and has power over all things. To think we are alone, is akin to losing faith, the loss of faith brings forth doubt, and doubt is Satan’s favorite weapon. So it was so perfect of Jesus to pray confidently to God, before raising Lazarus from the dead.
I was reading this book called, God Is In The Hard Stuff, written by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, who wrote, “If you mistakenly assume that God is not present, you’ll be spiritually blind to His presence. But if you take God at His word and expect to find Him in the darkest hours, you’ll be surprised that you see Him all around you. Suddenly, the severity of your problems will shrink in comparison to the magnitude of God’s presence in your life. God doesn’t remove the difficulty and pain. But He will be there with you through it all” (Bickel & Jantz, 2005, Pp14-15). Moreover, it has been within my own personal experience that God purposefully places people in your life when you need them to be there; they are there to help you through those difficult times.
So God might not answer your prayers directly as in the example of Lazarus, but he will use those prayers to bring you and thousands of others closer to Him. He wouldn’t do that if he didn’t care. He wouldn’t listen if he was not interested in your prayers, your words, your wants and desires. God wouldn’t have sent his only son to die on the cross if he didn’t love us so much. This very point ties so perfectly into last week’s reflection, “Paying Attention to Detail”.
“We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Challenge Question: If Jesus hears our prayers, and God knows our deepest desires, and our prayers get answered but not directly, our we to then assume it was meant for us alone, or for thousands of others who had prayed the same prayers?
If you have been moved by this blog I humbly invite you to leave a message telling me your thoughts and how this reflection has touched you. May peace and love be with you all the days of your life. May God keep you and bless you. Amen.