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Wednesday: From Despair to Hope — 13 Comments

  1. Our perception of God’s absence often hinges on the lack of the miraculous. We yearn for miraculous healing, the raising of the dead, the descent of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire, or a prophet walking among us. Such events, we believe, would validate our faith, compel the ears of others, and confirm our righteousness, even if it meant facing their scorn.

    Electricity is a potent force. Every day, I witness behemoth freight trains, eighty carriages strong, hauled by electric engines between Sydney and Newcastle. It’s an awe-inspiring spectacle. The locomotives are immense, heavy with power, and even someone with a casual understanding of physics recognizes the kilowatts at play.

    Yet, in my own home, a tiny 5-watt LED bulb glows in the center of the ceiling, consuming so little energy that it could burn endlessly, barely a blip on my electricity bill. While the might of the locomotive impresses, it’s the small light that illuminates my life, proving its utmost utility. I contemplate how, at times, our despairing pleas for supernatural evidence overshadow the subtle, natural proof woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

    In this context, another reflection emerges. Much of our discourse on prayer focuses on the dialogue between us and God. Perhaps we ought to consider a third participant in this conversation: our fellow human beings. This aspect holds two facets, both worthy of brief mention.

    Firstly, we ourselves become the "others" at various points. We must hone our ears to hear the whispers of despair and need, not just when uttered in fervent prayer, but also in the unspoken language of everyday interactions. This is the path to becoming God’s ear, a conduit for understanding. We don’t need to be radiant kilowatts of spiritual energy; a simple 5-watt flicker can uplift another soul. In this light, let us acknowledge that even the secular harbor unspoken prayers.

    The second aspect flips the perspective. While we yearn for the Holy Spirit’s fiery descent, we might turn away from the suggestion of a comforting book or a heartfelt conversation. We await God’s voice, yet He speaks through ordinary channels we often overlook. The 5-watt answer, delivered through unexpected avenues, holds immense power. Never underestimate it.

    Finally, a question worth pondering: have we ever considered the Lord’s Prayer not solely as a template for our own petitions, but as a guide for hearing the pleas of others?

  2. Maybe an overarching theme for me this week is the realization of how powerful prayer is as part of God's plan to grow our faith. Picture Jacob wrestling all night with God. Prayer is where we're wrestling out with God any gaps between what we know to be truth from hearing or reading His Word, and the reality of how we apply or perceive those truths in our daily life.

    In today's psalm, four times David says, "How long ..... ?" (Ps. 13:1-2) How long will You forget me? How long will You hide from me? How long will I sorrow daily? How long will my enemy win over me? We can find an answer for each of those questions in the Hebrew Scripture David had: Is. 49:15-16; Jer. 29:13-14; Ps. 30:5; Deut. 20:4. So that's the truth in God's Word. David probably knew these texts as answers. In fact, he penned Ps. 30:5 himself. And yet, day after day of running from King Saul, this constant trial which seemed to worsen daily, caused David to cry out his feelings. In the moment, there was a gap between the triumphant Bible promises and how David felt. As he cried out to God,...the psalm is very short but maybe his prayer was long... David was assured of God's care (Ps. 13:5-6). Likewise, Jacob already had received a specific promise of God's blessing before he was even born (Gen. 25:23), God intended to give him the blessing of spiritual leadership as a free gift all along, but he needed to wrestle for that blessing through a night of prayer to come to a place where he believed God's promise.

    Last week I had one of those extended lamenting conversations with God of "how long is this going to go on?" As I shared out every feeling - a close friend was in the conversation too - my attention shifted from the validation of the unfairness of the situation, to how Jesus was treated the same. In this case, being dismissed by various unbelieving family members as "impractical" and a lot of other stinging labels because I trust in the Bible and look to it for advice in all situations. Jesus told that this would happen. It's right there for me - John 15:20; Matt. 10:22, 34-39; Matt. 5:11-12. But somehow, I had to go through this process of complaining about my family's reactions to me, hurting, feeling caught off-guard, unappreciated, frustrated at not being included, etc. By being able to so thoroughly process it with God, there has been a shift of growth in my faith. It has been an extended time of turning to God and His character for help, and because of that there has been a dimming on the importance of what even a close family member thinks or says of me, and a brightening on what God thinks of me. Prayer is deepening my attention on, and allegiance to, God. Prayer, in the style of the lamenting psalms, is highlighting and deepening my faith in how the truths in God's Word are the most practical advice for living there is.

    • Edit: David lived in the 10th century BC. Isaiah lived in the 8th century BC. And Jeremiah lived in the 6th century BC. So Isaiah and Jeremiah lived after the time of David, and David would not have had access to Isaiah’s or Jeremiah‘s writings. It would be an interesting study to find what quotable promises might have addressed those feelings of being forgotten or hidden from God in the Scriptures David would have had. We see in his psalms that he found strength and courage in reciting God’s faithfulness as demonstrated in all the history stories.

  3. I have cried out to the Lord for so long...
    Take this from me!
    I know you are there,
    I don't doubt You hear...
    I'm scared You won't answer the way I want...
    I'm selfishly trying
    to control your Sovereign hand.
    Have mercy on me;
    thank you for always working with me.
    I thank you for your patience
    which You have had daily.
    I'm going to stick with You
    as long as You'll have me.

  4. I thank God for my trials. My trials remind me of my limitations, making me look for answers! Where can I find the answer to all my limitations? Some limitations are more vivid because they are presented to me today because of the nature of my (present) trials! Some go unnoticed! I'm unsure if I'm looking for answers because of the limitations I'm facing now or because I don't know how limited I am!
    But I believe in a God Who has all the answers! That's why I go to Him! That's why I always depend on Him, and when I start to rely on myself exclusively, being this already a limitation, I fall!

  5. May the Almighty keep revealing himself unto us and for us to fully understand that our sins are the main reason we feel at times that God has neglected us... Amen

  6. 1Peter 5:6-8 – ”Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand off God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

    Matt.11:27-29 – verse 28-29 ”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My joke upon you and learn from ME; for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”

    I want to consider the recorded Psalms in their larger setting - them giving evidence of heaven’s involvement in mankind’s affairs. Rev.5 mentions the prayers of those who love God. The book sealed with 7 seals which only Jesus could open refers to trials and tribulations, and the prayers of saints are contained in golden bowls are the ‘incense’ rising up before the One sitting on the Throne.

    This gives me the impression that prayers, praises, and petitions are present in the throne room of God. Yes, the recorded Psalms are much more than examples for how to pray. I see in them the Holy Spirit's influence to increase our trust and Faith in our heavenly Father - the One the Son of God came to introduce to us. Psalms give evidence that He hears our prayers; that He cares for us - John 16:23-24.

    Anxieties, when not dealt with appropriately, become the battleground for our faith. They become an opening for the adversary of God to attempt to weaken or causing us to give up building our faith relationship with our God. All prayers, petitions and praises by the saints will forever be gathered in the throne room of heaven as a sweet aroma to please the heart of our Father.


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