When God Doesn’t Answer — Rambling Thoughts

Did you know that I have a heck of a lot easier time trusting God when I feel Him telling me exactly what to do and assuring me that everything’s going to be okay?

The other night God called me to send a text which I normally wouldn’t send. No details, but it just wasn’t something I would typically be comfortable doing. But I felt so strongly that God wanted me to send it that I obeyed. Granted, for the rest of that night and into the next morning I was completely fretting about the decision, wondering if I had made a fool out of myself, worrying if I had completely stepped out of bounds, and basically chewing myself up over it. Even though I kept feeling God tell me, “It’s going to be okay.”

You can probably guess how silly, ashamed, and relieved I felt when everything worked out perfectly. Just like God said it would.

But what if God is silent?

What if I’m begging for an answer to a question and He feels entirely distant about it?

What if I’m totally confused about a situation and I have no idea what to expect, and God doesn’t say a word?

What then?

It’s at moments like this when it’s harder for me to trust God. I grow impatient, I want an answer now, I want to know what in the world I should expect in the future, which hopes to hang onto and which to let go. And when God doesn’t give me an exact answer, I can be very tempted to take matters into my own hands and/or assume God wants things one way or another when I really don’t know what He wants.

I’m a high-energy, let’s-get-up-and-go sort of person. I like to move, to be active, to go do something. I don’t care for waiting.

But maybe that’s exactly what God is calling me to do right now. To wait.

And yet to also do more than just wait.

To wait patiently. To sincerely trust Him, even when I have no idea what He’s doing. To continue to serve Him whole-heartedly while I’m waiting.

There’s probably a good reason I’ve recently been listening to John Waller’s “While I’m Waiting.”

Why does waiting have to be so hard?

Maybe that’s just a rhetorical question. It’s hard because trusting on God and waiting for His direction requires my being patient, killing off my own desires, and choosing His will over mine.

As I read somewhere, nothing of value is easily earned.

My journey with Christ, my daily decisions to follow and trust Him, will be hard fought. But I know that they will also be entirely worth the battle.

Advertisements

Joy, Prayer, and Gratitude

Many times I wonder what God’s will is for my life. What college should I attend? What major should I take? What should I do with my summer? The questions go on and on, usually without any definite answers (at least not right when I want them) so that I end up living one month, week, day, or moment at a time, uncertain as to exactly what God wants of me.

But on the other hand, there are instances when God astounds me with the clarity in His Word. Lately, as I have been reading through the New Testament, I have been searching for what I call “Purpose Passages.” These are verses which tell me what I am meant for, how God wants me to use my life for Him. I have actually been surprised — and wholly excited — by the number of such passages that God has shown me. But perhaps the most shocking thus far is 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, which reads:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

What caught my attention was the last portion, which says, “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Certainly I knew that rejoicing, praying, and thanking God were things we should do, but I never thought of them as God’s will for me. When God designed me, He intended that I should “[r]ejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.” That sounds so…happy. And, honestly, truly wonderful! It is incredibly exciting that God wills this for every Christian! He wants us to have joy, to constantly talk with Him, to have sincere gratitude residing in our hearts. What could be better?

Yet, as I read those three seemingly simple commands, I realize that they are not nearly as easy to follow as  they would appear to be. They do not happen on a regular basis…and they should. They are the sort of commands which sound so fairy-tale perfect that it is hard to imagine them happening in modern-day reality. And yet, I know that they are a genuine possibility because,

“…with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37

So then, in application, what might 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 look like in my life?

1. Rejoice always. God has given me incredible blessings to be joyful about! Baby goats, a horse to ride, a love for walking and running, good books to read, the ability to write, a fantastic family, twenty secluded acres in the Bull Mountains of Montana, a wiggly dog who wakes me up with kisses in the morning…. I could go on and on! There are a lot of rotten things that happen in life, but I need to look for the good things. The old adage “every cloud has a silver lining” is definitely true. Even in the most miserable, dreary, terrible day, I can find joy in God’s presence and in the hope of His return. Joy must be sought before it can be found. Satan would love to tear me down with frustration and hopelessness, but I must keep my eyes on the joy Christ offers. My mind and heart need to be open to the little things of life — the wildflower on the ground, the scent of hot cocoa, the way the sunlight glistens on my horse’s neck, my quiet moments with Mom in the morning before anyone else is awake. They are little things, but they can — and do — bring joy to my heart.

2. Pray without ceasing. If one of my best friends from Lewtana were with me all day, I would not stop talking with her, would I? Of course not! I would not necessarily be doing all the talking; I would be listening, too. And I can do the same with God. He is with me 24-7, so I can pray with Him all the time — talking and listening to Him. Who knows what He wants to teach me through such ordinary tasks as vacuuming, painting the garage, feeding baby goats, doing homework, etc. It seems as if I learn the most valuable lessons through simple things like these. I am confident that Christ has a great deal to teach me…if I will take the time to listen and discuss things with Him.

3. In everything give thanks. This command seems to go hand-in-hand with “Rejoice always.” If there is always something to be joyful about, then there is always something to be thankful for, right? Even in difficult, discouraging situations, I can always find some part of my life to be thankful about. In addition, I can be thankful for “bad” things because when trials and tribulations come my way, I know that they are intended for my spiritual growth and development. When times get tough, I need to be grateful that God will use it for good, that He can be glorified through the way I handle the situation, and that the challenge can help me to become more like Him. Now, I know being thankful is not always easy; my sinful human nature makes it more natural to complain and grumble when things go wrong. But what if I did look at even the difficult situations with “an attitude of gratitude?” Why, then the whole picture would change! I would see hope, encouragement. I would realize that no obstacle is insurmountable with Christ, and that each mountain I must climb will only serve to bring me nearer to Him.

Now, it is time for me to put this passage into practice. In summation, I need to 1) keep my eyes open for the joy around me; 2) talk to my Best Friend and listen to what He has to say; and 3) thank Him, thank Him, thank Him!

This is, after all, His will for my life.

A Calling, A Promise, A Warning, And A Covenant

Stephen is quite the story-teller as he launches into Israel’s history in Acts 7. But he isn’t talking for entertainment; he’s making a point. And in the first eight verses, he keys in on four important aspects of Abraham’s relationship with God.

1. God called Abraham out of his old land and into a new one.
2. God promised Abraham a future through his descendants, even though Abraham probably thought he would never have any children.
3. God warned Abraham that his posterity would suffer in bondage for four hundred years, but He also promised to rescue them and to judge the nation which enslaved them.
4. God gave Abraham a covenant in the form of circumcision — a covenant that marked those who had faith. It was a symbol of God’s promise to bless those who followed Him.

A calling. A promise. A warning. And a covenant. But they aren’t only true for Abraham. God is doing the same sort of things in our lives.

1. God has called us out of our old lives and into a new one. (Colossians 3:1-17)

As unsaved sinners, we were stuck in a world of sin. That was what we knew; that was how we lived. But then God said, “Look, I have something better for you.” And He offered us a whole new world! We no longer have to be slaves to sin. Now we can find purpose and meaning in life; through Christ we can discover hope, joy, and encouragement. God wants us to put off the “old” part of us and put on the “new,” clean, pure, Christ-inspired selves that God intended and designed for each of us individually!

2. God has promised us a future. (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28)

Like Abraham, we might not know exactly what that future is or precisely how it is going to come about. But God knows. He has a fantastic future in mind for us, and He has our best interests at heart. It may not seem like it at times, but those faith-testing moments are when we have to remember to implicitly trust Him. He knows what He is doing. Maybe our lives don’t make sense. Maybe we don’t see God working in our lives. But He is.

Sometimes, like Abraham and Sarah, we are faced with a sort of hopeless barrenness in our lives. We don’t see how God can bring anything good out of it.

God might surprise us with an Isaac.

We must have hope in Christ and not in ourselves. We must rely on Him and not on the circumstances of our lives. If we give our life over to Him, He is sure to use every moment for His glory. But if we cling to life, it is sure to slip through our fingers and we will be left with less than we had before.

3. God warns us in His Word that we will face persecution and hardship for our faith, but He also promises to eventually rescue us from this world and to serve justice to all mankind. (John 16:33)

Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that life is going to be a bed of roses. In fact, it’s more likely to get pretty thorny! We will face difficulties — guaranteed. People will despise, taunt, or reject us — guaranteed. In some parts of the world, believers will be tortured and killed — guaranteed. As Satan attacks and attacks and the sharp thorns prick our hearts, we may wonder why we have to suffer like this. We may wonder if our torment will ever end.

And that is when we must remember to look beyond this life. Many Israelites perished in captivity, and yet they knew that eventually their nation would be rescued. There was hope in the future.

The same is true for us. If we’re living as we should, we won’t escape tribulation in this life. We may very well die at the hands of our persecutors. But, fortunately, our story doesn’t end here. After death, when we go to heaven to be with Jesus, we will be free. Free from sorrow, free from suffering, free from trials.

We will be rescued, and justice will be served.

4. God has given us a covenant in the form of Communion. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

Perhaps Paul says it best:
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26

This is our covenant. We can remember what Christ has done — the sacrifice He made, His blood that was shed. We can partake in the Communion Service to be humbled and confess our sins, to ask for Christ’s forgiveness, and to thank Him for His salvation.

And yet, this is also a time to look ahead in hope because we know that our Savior is now alive, and that someday He will return! His kingdom will be established, wrongs will be made right, sin will be destroyed, and everything will be genuinely perfect.

What a marvelous world that will be!

Often we are amazed by how God worked in and through the lives of men and women of the Bible. But, the truth is, He desires to work in and through us in the same way. However, He can’t use us unless we are devoted to Him.

Abraham was. Can we follow his example?

Accept God’s calling.
Trust in His promises.
Take heed to His warnings.
Cling to His covenants.