Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When God Doesn't Seem to Answer

Dear Friends,

Often, one of the reasons we stop praying is that we’re disappointed with the whole concept of prayer.  When we urgently request something form God, and He doesn’t come through for us, we feel hurt and even betrayed that our prayers have not been answered.  That’s what happened to me when I was small.

I remember that first urgent attempt to call on the Almighty.  The need arose when I became aware that someone was trying to kill me!  The Second World War was in full swing, and I had the misfortune to live in Liverpool, a dangerous place.  Ships supplying us with food from our allies brought their precious cargo to this seaport, making it a target for the enemy.  I was very young, but I was aware that there was a God in heaven, and somewhere deep down in my heart I knew He was perfectly capable of stopping wars and conflicts.  I decided one day that I would ask Him to stop these terrible airplanes from dropping bombs all over my life.

That night the air raids were particularly vicious.  While we were huddled in our underground shelter like little moles, I confidently asked God to intervene.  The answer came immediately: The bomb dropped far too near for comfort, damaging the back of our house and sending us running for shelter in the safer environs of the English Lake District.  What went wrong? I asked myself furiously, trying in my six-year-old mind to make sense out of this nonsense.  Had God not heard?  Had I said my prayer with the wrong words or in the wrong way?  Then came the unwelcome thought: Perhaps God didn’t hear me because He was too busy doing other things, like keeping the stars in place. And last came the worst thought: Maybe He couldn’t help me because He couldn’t help me.  He wasn’t big enough or strong enough.

Well, one way or another my fervent request had been ignored, and a huge sense of betrayal gripped me.  Somewhere deep down in my six-year-old heart I determined not to try again.  Not a few adults have faced similar dilemmas.  At first disappointment they quit without finding out what is happening and what makes prayer work.

If this is the case, the first thing we should do is pray about this.  In fact, we should pray about anything that hinders our prayer life.  You might want to stop this moment and ask the Lord to identity whatever has caused you to stop talking to Him.  Then, when you have an inkling of what the blockage has been, talk to Him about it.

Prayer, after all, is the speaking part of our relationship with God.  Our relationship with Him depends upon our birth, while our fellowship—the quality of our relationship—depends upon our behavior.  We must be born of God—“born again”—to be able to talk to God as His children in the first place.  After that, our fellowship will be determined by our behavior.  Stuart and I have two sons and a daughter.  Our blood runs in their veins.  Our relationship with them depends upon their birth.  If they mess up, our fellowship may be disrupted, but they will always be our children—our estranged children perhaps, but still our children.  We always want to hear from them.

Blessings,


Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor
Just Between Us Magazine


Monday, April 13, 2015

When Trials Touch Those We Love

Dear Friends,

Consider Job.  There came a day when Job awoke to a world gone mad, his world.  He would never be the same again.  God had directed Satan to contemplate Job’s life and behavior.  The Lord had boasted about His servant: “There is no one on earth like him” (Job 1:8). 

Job’s worst nightmare happened all in a day.  It was a daymare.  It had to have been a Monday!  All in a day he lost his cattle and all his wealth.  He and his flocks became victims of violence of terrorism.  A storm hit, the lightning striking Job’s animals and servants and burning up his barns and cattle sheds.  But worst of all, a tornado hit the house where his ten children were having a party, and his seven sons and three daughters died—all in a day! (Job 1:13-19).

The “everything that Satan was permitted to touch included Job’s precious children.  Possessions are one thing, but people are quite another—especially people whom we love very much.  As Henry Gariepy says in his excellent book about Job, Portraits of Perseverance:

We will not only have our own problems—the problems of those we love and care for and for whom we have such high hopes and dreams, hit us with full force as well.  When tragedy strikes them, the quakes in their lives are registered on the Richter Scale of our own hearts.

I know that in my own experience I do a halfway decent job of trusting the Lord until something touches one of our children.  In a way, our children are my Achilles heel, and Satan knows it!  I have always worried about the kids.  When they were little, I worried that they would fall into the washing machine and drown.  When they were teenagers, I worried about the friendships they made.  When they went away to college, I worried about the life partners they would choose.  When none of my worries materialized (and it has been said that 90 percent of our worries and fears never do), I began to worry all over again about their children falling into the washing machine and drowning—and so on!  Like Job, I pray fervently for them, but I have seldom been free from the “dread” Job experienced and testifies to in chapter 3:25-26.  Only recently has God released me from this fear.  Partly, the acceptance of the fact that trouble, in some measure, will come, has helped.  But more important, peace has grown out of the conviction that when, not if trouble comes, God will Himself be all that my children need in order to cope.

Blessings

Jill Briscoe
Executive Editor 
Just Between Us Magazine