“Is there any word from the Lord?” – Jeremiah 37:17
The young man’s face betrayed the tension that lay beneath his words. “I believe in God, and I pray every day. But for some reason, God isn’t answering my prayers.” His words became softer as he continued, “I guess I’m doing something wrong.” His plight is not different from that of many Christians. In times of trouble, our petitions seem to fall upon a deafened Divine. Our expectations are unmet. Sadness, confusion, and despair may follow. Soon doubt and anger occupy our thoughts. “Why doesn’t God hear me?” we cry.
Our God hears his people (Proverbs 15:29). He is aware of our needs even before we ask (Matthew 6:8). He rivets his attention upon the most insignificant creatures (Matthew 6:26-30). As the pinnacle of his creation, we hope for a rapid, positive response. Still, God is silent. Why?
God is silent, not clueless
When God seems far, it is not because he is unaware. If the Father is concerned about birds and flowers, will he not also be concerned about the crowning achievement of his creation (Matthew 6:25-33)? The writer of Hebrews reminds that our Savior and High Priest, Jesus, knows our burdens. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one, who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). We can be certain, that God’s decision to act will come at the very best time for us
God is not silent because he is working
The crises in our lives seem to demand immediate attention. We cannot comprehend why God allows us to linger in distress. In fact, God is already busy changing our lives for the better. The Bible calls this discipline (Hebrews 12:6); it is evidence of God’s extraordinary love for you. Like a father who carefully watches his son as he struggles, God watches over our struggles too. Visit any high school or little league practice, and you will observe dozens of parents watching as their children run lap after lap, unendingly practice drills, and are pushed to exhaustion by their coach. Why? Because struggling produces something better in the future! Maybe your struggles are evidence of God at work in your life.
God is not silent because he is teaching
Paul struggled too. This great man, the one who declared “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4), also begged God for deliverance from a problem. Three times he asked the Lord to remove his problem, but God declined. Why? Because Paul needed to learn humility and to trust God. His words were powerfully instructive: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Culture teaches us to be self-sufficient. Even the U.S. Army, an example of teamwork, extols the image of an “Army of One.” We need to be reminded that it is God who provides. Our trust must be on him. Just as you would not hand a five-year-old the keys to your car, God will not give us what that, for which, we are not prepared. Perhaps God is teaching you a lesson in humility, patience, finance, relationships, or faith.
God is not silent; you are not listening
This is the hard one. God has spoken, and the answer is “no.” Remembering that God’s knowledge of past present and future is infinite, we should be confident that God knows what is best. Whether or not we understand is irrelevant; God is all-knowing. There are times, just like a loving father, when God that we should not get our request. God always gives what we need (Matthew 7:7-11), but he withholds that which is harmful.
The Christian knows that God hears and cares for him. Walk by faith, seek the encouragement and support of your brethren, and continue your petitions before the father.