Day 4 of Lent, Psalm 10:
I don’t like it when this happens: I am working on something, checking email, scrolling through social media and one of my kids starts talking to me. I say, “A-ha… yea… a-ha.” Then they say, “You aren’t listening, are you?” I don’t like this, because I don’t want to be preoccupied, distracted or plain not listening. I want to hear my children. I also don’t like this, because I got caught! They caught me in the act of not listening– with my ears not open to them.
I think it is common to feel the same ways about God– that He does not listen, that He does not have His ears open or He does not care. Is He like me– preoccupied, distracted, not able to listen well and carry on His responsibilities? What about when difficulties arise, when we are hurt or tragedy strikes, are His ears open then?
Does God hear?
Of course, when we are in pain, troubled or facing heartbreak, it feels like He isn’t listening. If He heard us, it seems like He would fix things, or make things better –right now. I won’t pretend to have the answers to these things or have this mystery solved. And if I did, I know for me, it can be difficult for me to hear His love and compassion when I am hurting or suffering. My ears become deaf to His care and comfort. I cannot see what He is up to.
Nevertheless, I really do believe He does hear. He is not deaf. His ears are open. He is not preoccupied. Psalm 10 puts it this way:
O Lord, You have heard the desire of the afflicted;
You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed
So that man who is of the earth will no longer cause terror. Psalm 10:17,18
It is as if God is saying, “I do hear. I am not deaf. My ears are open to your cries. Find me in your difficulties. Allow me to be your burden bearer, your place of rest, your healer.”
Do we see? Do we remember?
What if I could see God “hearing”– see Him at work and making things right? If I could see His hand, then, would I know He is listening? Maybe I would, but maybe I wouldn’t. In Exodus, the Israelites were under incredible misery and bondage as slaves. They cried out to the Lord. It says, “God heard their groaning… and took notice of them.”
You probably know the story. God heard them and sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Their release didn’t happen as quickly or in the way the people planned. The work grew harder and the people complained. God heard their cries and He miraculously brought them out of Egypt. When the army came close, they were terrified and complained to Moses. God again, brought them through miraculously. They were thirsty, hungry, thirsty again, tired of the food God provided– forgetting all along what God had accomplished for them. They saw Him provide and they forgot. It was difficult for them to stand back and see what God was doing. They were fickle, and had a difficult time believing and trusting. However, all the time, He did hear and did provide. They often just couldn’t always remember or see it.
There are probably things we can all stand back or look back and see God’s hand providing and protecting us– even though we couldn’t see it at the time. When I was a sophomore in high school I went through a very difficult time, crying out to God and often feeling overwhelmed and depressed. “Why did things have to go this way? What is God thinking? How could I feel this way?” In sharing this experience a few years ago with some trusted friends, I could actually see now God’s hand of protection on me. He removed me from something to actually care for me, not to harm me.
The Father listened to His Son
The Father heard the cries of His Son with each beating, bruising, whipping, and nailing. The Father, who loved Jesus, said, “You are my Beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (Luke 3:22). Then why did the Father not do anything?
Isaiah said this of the Son– the Christ, and the One who would take on our sins, forgive us, give us new life and one day make all things right:
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort, all who mourn,
to grant those who mourn in Zion,
giving them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
One day things God will set things right. Right now, it is hard to see this. My eyes cannot see behind the veil. In the mean time, He gives us His grace– giving us things we don’t deserve. He gives us His mercy–withholding things, we do deserve. He is sufficient He says. He gives us His comfort, His love, His rest, His hope… He calls us to offer this to others– this I do know. He is not deaf. He is not distracted or preoccupied. His ears are open.