It’s 2:00 AM any day of the week. I should be strolling the streets of Dreamsville like most normal people, but I am wide awake. Sleep eludes me once again like the betrayal of a good friend, leaving me with nothing but night haunts-questions with no answers, situations with no solutions. I should be accustomed to it by now-it’s been going on so long, but each night brings new frustrations of its own as the only peace to be found is within sleep that won’t come.
I have always attempted to write from a transparent perspective, the emotions and feelings still raw from the latest battle. But with each post I strive to leave the reader with hope, with words of empowerment and encouragement so they can use my experiences as added weapons against the forces that seek to destroy or at least cripple the believer. My writings aren’t flowery clichés suitable for inspirational greeting cards. They are honest, because regardless of the façade we put on for the world to see, God knows the heart and sees the fears and doubt. I want my readers to know it’s natural and okay to have questions in the midst of fierce battles. Anyone who would question our faith when we are being sorely tested, is not being honest and true to the process and workings that are allowed for our growth. But that said, there are those times, those long dry seasons which seem like an eternity, when our prayers go unanswered, our cries fall silent and our petitions are denied. Every Christian has or will go through these agonizing seasons-mine is going into its fifth year.
There seems to be an unending string of Biblical promises that encourage us to boldly approach God with our needs-“ask and it shall be give, seek and you will find“, or “ask anything in my name and it will be done“, or ” seek first God’s kingdom and all these things will also be added“, or “if you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, you can command mountains to be moved into seas“, and on and on. As believers, we are compelled to accept God’s words as Gospel, sealed promises available to all who ask, and for the most part we do believe. What other recourse would we have accept to believe. And yet all too often, we seek God in desperate situations and plead for his involvement only to be met with the silence of the universe. It’s not as if we are only petitioning God for material things like more income, bigger homes, favorable investment returns. No, many of us seek God for much more important and often intangible answers. We ask that he help save a failing business and the jobs of our employees but receive no response and watch the business be ripped from our grasp. We beg God in earnest to help heal broken marriages and prevent families from being torn apart, only to end up in family court filing for a divorce we didn’t want because God seemed deaf to our cries. We plead and fast in hopes that he will come to the rescue of seriously sick family members, knowing from stories left for us in scripture of his miraculous power to heal, only to say our earthly goodbyes to departed loved ones who left us seemingly prematurely. We agonize over the eternal salvation of family members who never attend church services with us because they just can’t believe. And many of us travel this life alone, scarred from the wounds of past relationships, but willing to expose ourselves to the vulnerability required to love again, but finding it to be as elusive as the sleep we chase. Sometimes, God simply doesn’t answer us.
How I wish I could tell people how to navigate these dark roads of life in a way that gives more confidence, but I don’t have those neatly packed 3 step solutions. Oh, many others will tell us exactly what we are doing wrong. We don’t have “enough” faith. Or we aren’t using the right combination of religious words or phrasing to get God’s attention. Or, we must have some secret sin hidden in our life that makes our prayers ineffective-didn’t sow some financial seed offering to assure our blessings like the days of old before Martin Luther, or, we didn’t use the exact phrase “In Jesus name”. As silly as these suggestions may appear on the surface, we can’t help but search for some validity in them as we compare our life situations to those in our circle who breeze through life on a spiritual high seemingly untouched by the challenges that are our closest friends. Surely, we are doing something wrong, aren’t we?
The danger of human intellectual honesty is that it opens the door that leads from the room of doubt into the halls of unbelief, the opening our enemy is waiting for. Maybe God doesn’t really love us all the same and wouldn’t leave the ninety-nine just to save the one. Maybe we don’t deserve the promises recorded in scripture because God knows all the sins of our past better than anyone. Or worse, maybe none of it is real. Just typing those words causes my heart to skip a beat. God forgive me. As difficult and trying as life’s trials and as discouraging to feel our cries fall short of his ears, the one thing worse is the thought that there is no God, no Son, no Spirit and that it’s a two-thousand year old hoax. As Paul wrote, if there is no real eternity or hope, what a miserable existence we have. We can’t allow the validity of the Gospel to be hijacked by the unreliability of our feelings and skewed perspectives when we are in storms that never end and which limit our spiritual vision to earthly and human limitations. We are not the first to question God’s silence when we need him the most-David felt it-Joseph went through it, we all know Job’s story, even Jesus experienced God’s deafening silence. It doesn’t make me feel better about these past few years-if anything, knowing and believing in God’s sovereignty only adds to the frustration during his non-responsive seasons. But our only hope is in him and the persuasion of his spirit to prod us forward and guide us when we can’t see the road ahead. If and when we give up that hope, we give validity to the questions and doubts, something that is simply not an option.
I hope you understand that you have much company in these seasons. This may not have been a post that leaves you feeling fuzzy and cozy, but it’s our feelings and our attention to them that gets us to these low points. It’s our knowledge of God and his ways that will ultimately pull us through. Let it be so, and soon.