Our family is going through a couple of tough trials right now and the last several days I have found myself thinking about communicating with God. Yesterday, in particular, I thought about what it would be like to communicate with God by phone; and how, as His children, we have been given God’s direct number. We can call Him at any time, from any place, and have direct access to the God of all creation in a moment’s notice. And we don’t even need a phone to do it. How awesome is that!
All this is well and good, but Janet has had trouble sleeping the past several nights and she asked me “what happens when God doesn’t answer?” I was kind of unprepared her question, but I could see that she was really serious. Because all of this stuff can sound really good and easy when we’re writing (or reading) a blog, or when things are going really well; but it’s not so easy when things get real tough. And Janet’s not the only person asking that question – it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue when trouble strikes or when they want answers right now. Mind you, I’m not criticizing anybody here – these are real concerns of real God-centered folks.
We’re kind of an instant gratification society. We don’t have much patience, but God has all the time in the world – in fact, in all eternity. So when we call God, and He doesn’t answer on the first ring, sometimes we worry about whether He is home, or tied up with somebody else. A number of people I have counseled over the years even wonder whether they are good enough for God to take time to answer their call. So what gives?
Well, I don’t have any real slick seminary education answer tonight; nor did I have a good one for Janet. There’s only one thing that I can suggest; and that is to just keep trying to connect. The Bible is filled with stories of people who tried to have communion with God. Probably one of the best examples that mirrors what Janet experienced in the middle of the night is what David tells God in Psalm 63:6-8, “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
But notice that even David didn’t tell us that he was successful communicating with God, and he was a man after God’s own heart. The psalm does tell us that David laid awake thinking about God. And the reference to the watches of the night means that he probably thought about God through the middle 4 hours of the night (the middle watch), plus time before and after. That’s a long time thinking about God throughout the night. He also let us know that he went to God when he needed refuge and that he sought the protection of God. Some of the same things that I want for my life – and that Janet was seeking for hers several days ago.
As the psalm continues, it seems that God satisfied the needs of David – but we don’t know for sure – and we never find out that God communicates with David. The only thing we can be sure of is that David got stronger and stronger the more he detailed and remembered his relationship with God.
So it seems that there are two things we can do when God doesn’t seem to answer us. First, we can remember times from the past when we needed God’s help or protection and it was provided. Then, like in David’s case, we will get stronger. As a side note, I have found that thinking about God through the watches of the night is a great way to remember the times when God came to my aid in the past.
The second thing we can do is to wait. That’s right – just wait. And that is illustrated in the verse for tonight, from another psalm. In Psalm 27:14 (KJV), we are told, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” By the way, David is also the author of this psalm…
Therefore, the formula for communicating with God when He doesn’t seem to answer is a two step process – remember and then wait. It worked for David and it can work for us. My encouragement this evening is that you will remember all the great things that God has done for you throughout your life. The times that He has strengthened you, or cradled you, or was just there to listen to you. My prayer is that you will wait on God and not get too impatient – after all – David spent a lifetime pursuing God and even with the great personal relationship he had, David had to wait on many occasions to hear from God. So if you find that God doesn’t answer on the first ring, that okay. He’s home – just let it ring – He’ll pick up in a minute……..
Have a great day in the Lord…..