Sometimes we can be in pain, sometimes our hearts can be broken, sometimes we can’t even formulate words together in our minds to make up sentences. Sometimes the only thing that we can do is just kneel and let our spirit within us cry out to our Lord.
God is real, we know that. Jesus lives, we know that too. God’s Holy Spirit lives within us and we’ve witnessed this reality many times. But today, right now, this very minute, we have no problem acknowledging our dependency on God. In fact, that is what this very moment is all about. Our need for God to meet us and be with us and to answer the cries of our heart. And sometimes, even when we kneel in silent prayer, there is just silence and that silence can seem to add to our need, rather than address it.
But yet, even in that silence, there is the internal witness and understanding that our prayers are indeed heard and that our heavenly Father, who has helped us and guided us so many times in the past, knows our needs, even better than we do ourselves.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Apostle Paul, for a variety of reasons. And sometimes I need to remind myself of what he went through, what he personally experienced and the difficulties that he encountered.
In 2nd Corinthians, chapter 11:24-29 NIV Paul tells us of some of the things that he endured:
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
Do you wonder, like I do, what went through Paul’s mind as he endured all of these things? Did his faith make any of those lashes hurt less? What fears surfaced, if any, when he was shipwrecked? How about when he was hungry, cold and thirsty? And most importantly, why is it, for some unexplained reason, I seem to want all of which I encounter to be peaceful, without discomfort and my expectations to be met?
The reality of the Christian walk is not all roses and butterflies, there is real life with real pain, real hurts, mistakes and misunderstandings. Rough waters or storms are a part of this life we have been given. And, even though my preferences are for smooth sailing at all times, reality is, that it is my expectations or preferences that are out of whack.
Faith and trust in God is a different kind of relationship than what we encounter with the trust we may develop with another person. I don’t know if you’ve even been involved in maintaining a long distance relationship but in a number of ways, our relationship with God can be similar. We can’t see Him and our communication can be limited to the written word for extended periods of time. But what is it that can make those long distance relationships last and thrive?
Are they more difficult than a normal relationship? Yes they are. Maintaining a long distance relationship takes even more work and dedication that a normal face to face relationship.
Is trust vitally important? Yes it is. In fact, it’s critical.
Is the value of the relationship a key element? Yes it is. The value of the relationship is closely tied to trust between two individuals.
In a long distance relationship we’re seldom aware of what is always happening at the other end. Reaction times can appear to be delayed.
The difference between a long distance relationship between humans, and God and humans, is that in the God and humans relationship, God is continually teaching us to stretch our trust and reliance in Him and our value of Him. And, just to make it interesting, we not just dealing with physical realities but also spiritual realities.
So, that silence that we sometimes encounter, especially during life’s unscheduled storms, are cloaked in proven trust, proven reliability and ever increasing value. And you may also find that the length of the “supposed” silence is also directly related to the stretched strengthening of the increasing trust and value we have with our God.
Matthew 28:19-20 NIV “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is the hope that the Apostle Paul had and this is the hope that we have, and when Jesus says “surely”, He is with us always, He means exactly what He says.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!