Copyright 2006 Rob Marshall
In Bible studies that I’ve taught, I’ve often had people talk with me afterwards and mention that they’re struggling because they’re not getting answers to their prayers. They want to have faith, they don’t think that they’re doing anything wrong, but nothing seems to be happening, nothing is changing.
It reminds me of a theme that comes up throughout the Psalms. It’s a theme that we don’t like to talk about because it seems like the Psalmists are saying, “God! We cry out to You, but You don’t answer!”
Whether we like it or not, there are times when it seems like God is a long way away. We feel like the Psalmist who wrote: “But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies. You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us. You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations. You sold your people for a pittance, gaining nothing from their sale.” (Psalm 44:9-12 NIV)
There have been times when I’ve felt like dying. Has that ever happened to you? When you feel like there’s no hope, God has forsaken you, so you might as well just give up?
Most of us just put on a brave face and try not to admit it, but the truth is, we’re frustrated and angry. We’re mad at God and we don’t know what to do.
Part of the frustration that we deal with is because we begin to believe that it’s something we’ve done wrong. There’s a problem with “me” but I don’t know what it is. God must be angry with me for some unknown reason, and if I could just figure it out and say I’m sorry, it will all be better.
When we face times like this we have to remember that others have gone through similar times. There’s nothing strange about it and there’s nothing wrong with us. We should be open and listen to see if there is some unconfessed sin that we need to deal with, but not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with guilt. And we shouldn’t try to earn God’s favor by believing that we need to be punished.
As my pastor once commented to me when I was thinking along those lines, “What! Was Christ’s death on the cross not good enough for you?” I realized that I wrongly thought I had to pay the price, and I forgot that He already had.
We also need to follow David’s example. In Psalm 43:5 he says, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
It’s OK to let God know that we’re angry and that we don’t understand what’s happening in our lives. It’s OK to tell Him how we feel. And then we need to remember that even if we feel forsaken, God is still there. He still loves us.
When we tell God how we feel, we also need to remind ourselves of who He is and make a decision to continue to praise Him. The sacrifice of praise often comes when we decide to stop all the negative voices in our heads and praise God in spite of our circumstances.
One of my favorite prayers is in 2 Chronicles 20:12. The prayer is in the middle of the story about the armies that were coming to attack Jehoshaphat. At the end of Jehoshaphat’s prayer he says, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
We need to let God know how we’re feeling, but still keep our eyes on Him. He will answer our prayers and help us through any circumstances we’re facing. His answer may not come in the way we want, but it will come.