Have you ever been confused in God? When I was a young Christian, I was told that confusion was not ever from God but always from the enemy. I have learned that that statement is oversimplified to the point of being untrue. Yes, confusion is often a hallmark of demonic activity, but does God always explain Himself? Of course not! And when we don’t understand, we are confused, sometimes even baffled and dismayed. In fact, sometimes it feels like we just walked off the map!
The cause? He is God and we are not. The difference between us invites bafflement.
In Luke 11 Jesus is asked by his disciples to teach them to pray. He gives them a prayer example which we now call The Lord’s Prayer, and then, to explain the prayer process, he tells a parable.
Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and from inside he answers and says, “Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. (Luke 11:5-8)
Why would Jesus describe the Father as a friend who does not care for you and your needs? Perhaps it is because sometimes He appears that way to us. We cry out to Him about some need — in our lives or even in our service to others — and He does not answer. We may even cry out to Him for quite some time, years even — remember Hannah and Elizabeth and Abraham and Sarah? Our reasoning mind tells us He does not care or He is not paying attention or even He is stingy and withholding good things from me. Do not believe it! God Himself is the definition of unconditional love. It is His Nature to care for us. He always hears us when we pray. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He never withholds good things from His children.
But He sometimes is silent. He sometimes seems distant. He sometimes appears callous or indifferent. You will be tempted in those times to think He is an unkind friend. But He is not. He is after something you cannot see.
The next thing Jesus says after sharing this parable is
So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)
He is saying, “I want you to trust me and trust what I have said even when it looks like I am not paying attention.” Can I hang onto Him and believe in His love and goodness in the face of His seeming indifference? Will I cling to Him and trust Him to provide for me even when He is not answering me? Can I continue to believe He is Who He says He is when it looks and feels like He is not?
Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:11-13)
He is reminding us that He is Who He says He is, that He will do all He has said He will do. He is better than we are. He is more loving than we expect. But there are times when God’s ways are so far beyond ours that we cannot possibly understand what He is doing. Perhaps we will understand in the future, but perhaps not. He is God and we are not. He wants us to trust Him, especially when we don’t understand. He wants us to have faith that He hears and answers and provides, especially when we do not hear Him and cannot see beyond our need. Look for the presence of the Holy Spirit in those times because He brings grace to stay close to God and faithful. And the Holy Spirit is always with us.
My friend, Katelyn Peers, from Christ Community Church in Brockport, NY, delivered a message recently about things that trip up our faith. She talks about the lies of the enemy, about making an idol of our experience, and about making an idol of our understanding. Aren’t those wonderfully descriptive phrases? I suggest that you take about 35 minutes to listen. She is one of Michael’s prophetic disciples and a marvelously gifted speaker. This message will take that convoluted string of your thinking and pull it straight again. Here’s the link, and there are even sermon notes you can download. Really, please listen. http://cccbrockport.org/sermons/where-is-your-faith-at-things-that-trip-us-up/