God’s word for Jan. 28

Good morning from Liverpool, New York! Our reading for this Wednesday, January 28, 2015 is

Psalm 116:1-7.

116 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.

2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me;

I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!”

5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

6 The Lord protects the simple hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.

7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

NIV

Nothing encourages our faith than to discover God has answered a specific prayer. God always answers our prayer, yet not always when and how we might expect. The witness to answered prayer may raise more questions in those who hear or read about it than it will build confidence such as what is expressed by our psalm writer as many will wonder why God has not answered their particular request.

Even those who experience an answer to prayer as they requested will also know times when God appeared silent to their need. Though confident of God’s care there will be a disappointment from the experience.

The mature in faith will accept unanswered prayer as a normal course of their experience without being bothered by it while the novice may well be challenged to understand the reasons for it. The more mature will answer doubt by submitting that the request did not fit into God’s will to which the novice would question why it would not be God’s will depending on whether they considered the request an unselfish one. There is a greater plan that extends beyond the circumstance of the moment that we know is being played out but cannot comprehend at the moment but in only generality. The more mature embrace a humility that can accept that sometimes God’s greater will supersedes our own specific circumstance.

The answer “no” from God does not mean God does not care for our specific need; they understand God will provide several resources for us to endure the suffering and they recognize in the Words of Christ that even the righteous will endure suffering in our temporary earthly existence. It is the plight of the curse resulting from the Fall which is a brief means for explaining the circumstance of life in our world resulting from humanity’s original sin and rebellion from God. We challenge God’s right to be God and so God gave us a world to live in where He will not completely exercise His authority; God allows us to see what life is like without God being in full control. God is in control of course, but limits its expression so we might be encouraged to reject our rebellion and return to let God have control.

There is much to be pondered and explained from the theological debate over the control and authority of God over our world such as how a compassionate God could allow for human suffering and injustice. Such an explanation of there being a “bigger picture” will not suffice in the midst of suffering or trial. The weak of faith will be plagued by what they perceive as inconsistency and surrender to doubt and a weakened or even a rejection of faith all together while others of us will be comforted by the help offered us by God and take up the mantle of service by being part of God’s answer to prayer by resolving injustice and providing comfort in the name of Christ.

I am always reminded when I turn to prayer that God has a different view of life from our own that we cannot fully grasp. In Isaiah 55, verse 8 we are reminded by the prophet that our ways are not God’s ways, nor are God’s ways ours. God looks at life through the perspective of eternity while ours is mired in the moment. Besides as we mature we come to recognize how God works out a greater plan through the suffering and injustice and such a perspective redeems the suffering we might know or see others endure.

The answers are not easy one or fully satisfying for many. The time to explain them is not in the midst of trial, but when we are able to deal with the issue with greater objectivity and distance from emotional struggle. It is not during some time of sorrow that we should offer any explanation though the question might be posed to us; we need only listen and attempt to be a source of comfort and encouragement to those who suffer from unanswered prayer. Our humble presence may be God’s answer to their need which they might recall and later thank God for.

The answers to unanswered prayer may seem too simple, however the psalmist states that God protects the simple hearted. In our arrogance and our demands we will overlook the real presence of God in our times of need. This is discovered in the ways God provides and protects us or inspires us to change the circumstance of suffering or injustice. The only source of rest even for those called to passionate mission and mission engagement will be to give God room and allow God to be God. The pressure for prayer to be answered as we think best and when will be released when we recall the moments we recognized God’s powerful influence in particular situations an simply abandon ourselves of control over every detail of a circumstance. Our failure to do so only reveals the cause of humanity’s original sin which is a failure to trust God and to succumb to the temptation to assume God-like control rather than allowing God to be God.

I pray for awareness of God’s presence and help in the battles you face today.

Selah! Dr. Brian Homan