God, Do You Hear Me?!
- Thursday, September 14, 2006
When I call the doctor’s office or even a friend with a question or problem I expect an answer. Sometimes I need to leave a message on an answering machine or voice mail system. When this is necessary, I expect a call back within 24 hours. If the person is truly my friend, they will call back. I would do that for my friends.
Sometimes I get really upset and get on the “hot line” to God. I leave several messages on His heavenly “voice mail” and it appears that He just doesn’t call me back. It seems that God is silent. I wonder if my prayers are even reaching Him. I feel as if I am in some kind of black hole or perhaps behind a wall that keeps me from God and God from me.
I think Mary and Martha must have felt that way when their brother Lazarus became deathly ill. The sisters had already done everything they knew how to do. They called for the local family practice physician. He did all modern medicine of that day knew to do. Mary and Martha called all the members of their Bible Study/church group to an emergency prayer meeting. Of course, Martha served refreshments. Their last resort was to send for Jesus.
If Jesus loved them as He said He did, surely he would come and heal their brother. For truly Lazarus was more like a brother than a friend to Jesus. They knew He wasn’t more than a day’s journey away. How could Jesus not come when they needed Him so desperately? As the night wore on, Lazarus grew worse. By morning Jesus had not arrived. Lazarus died the following day. The sisters probably felt something akin to a sense of betrayal. Going through the usual stages of grief, Mary and Martha were sad and angry that their Friend had not come to save their brother (John 11).
Upon Jesus' arrival, He found that Lazarus had been dead and buried four days. He was first met by Martha, who greeted Him with a reprimand for not coming sooner. Mary, the precious one who would sit at His feet, came and delivered a similar reprimand. Then Jesus wept in sadness over the death of His friend, Lazarus. Mary and Martha took Jesus to the tomb. Jesus prayed and told His Heavenly Father, "I know that you always hear Me, but this is for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent Me” (John 11:42). Then Jesus called for Lazarus to come forth and he miraculously did. Many of the people who saw what happened believed in Jesus.
The victory Jesus won over death that day was but a mere glimpse of what was to come. During the previous five or six days, Mary and Martha wondered where Jesus was and if he had gotten the message. In today’s language, they wondered if he had checked His e-mail. When we don’t get an answer back as soon as we expect it, the human thing is to think that God has forgotten us or that He is too busy, or maybe He is angry with us. We forget that one of the possible answers to prayer is “WAIT.” That is a word we don’t like when it comes from other humans, let alone from God.
Psalm 27:14 says very specifically, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” A good companion verse is Psalms 40, verse 1: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” I can wait, but I don’t usually do it very patiently. I had to wait 5 years for the baby we had been praying to adopt and I must admit there were a lot of times that I did not wait patiently at all. I do know that when I held that baby in my arms it was worth the wait as frustrating as it had been at times. God had a purpose in every minute of it. He has a purpose in your wait or in the silence, too. We may not understand the purpose, but that is where trust comes. I do trust God more than I trust anyone. For I know He loves me mores than anyone. He has never let me down and I know, without a doubt, that he never will!
Alice M. McGhee and husband, Ken, live in Littleton,
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