When Jesus Is Silent
“But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. ‘Tell her to go away,’ they said. ‘She is bothering us with all her begging.'” Matthew 15:23 (NLT)
Have you ever felt like the Canaanite woman who cried out to Jesus on behalf of her daughter?
“Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is possessed by a demon who torments her severely!” Matthew 15:22 (NLT)
She cried. She pleaded. She was frightened and desperate to find help for her daughter. Making it worse, those around her tried to silence and dismiss her.
The Bible says, “But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word.”
How many times have we prayed and asked, even beseeched God for something we want or need, and like the Gentile woman of Canaan, Jesus is silent? Have there been times when friends or family members have caused you to doubt that God is listening or cares?
I remember a time I cried out to Jesus, and He was silent. My husband and I agreed that I needed to return to the workforce after a brief break situating our four young children in school. Before my break, I had enjoyed a successful career in medical sales. Armed with confidence and a packed resume, I set out to return to the field I knew and loved.
You can imagine my surprise when interview after interview produced zero offers. Two or three times I was in the final round but lost the job to another qualified person. Weeks turned into months and still no job.
I cried out to Jesus. I repented. I humbled myself. I asked God if I was being punished. I began to panic because I knew my husband was counting on me to help with our household expenses. In the past, my medical jobs provided our family’s health insurance.
Jesus “gave me no reply, not even a word.”
Finally, I surrendered. I acknowledged that while I did not understand what or why this was happening, I would trust Him. I thanked Him. He knew our situation, and if I was not getting a job, there was a reason. I thanked Him for taking care of our family as He always had.
A short time later, I received a call from my sister in Florida announcing the news that our father was in the hospital. I left for Florida later that day. As it turns out, he was diagnosed with cancer, and the prognosis was not good. For the next eight months, I traveled back and forth between Virginia and Florida so I could spend time with my father and help my mother.
I understood the reason I could not find a job. If I had accepted a new position, I could not have taken so much time off. I was and am eternally grateful that I was unemployed at the time and available to spend so much time with my father. It was an amazing gift, and while those were some of the most difficult eight months, they were also some of the most fulfilling. Our family comforted and supported each other as we said goodbye to a most wonderful man. Jesus was working the entire time. I just did not realize.
When the Canaanite woman did not get a response from Jesus, she did not give up. She had faith. The Bible says she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
He not only healed her daughter, but He praised her for faith,
“O woman, great is your faith!” Matthew 15:28 (NKJV)
God hears our prayers. He loves us, and while His ways are not our ways, He is to be worshiped and trusted. We must keep the faith even when He is silent.
Working Forgotten Muscles
by Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com
“Rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:7b-8
Well, it’s that time of year again – the time when I shake out the running shoes and hobble through training for a 10k after bumming through the winter. My hearty congratulations to those of you whose diligence makes that distance seem puny, but I suspect many of you empathize more than you’d prefer. My inner athlete is an uncoordinated middle school kid perpetually stuck in gym class, so it’s taken some coaxing to begin workouts again.
After last year’s run, I knew that I’d regret letting my body relax into semi-hibernation this winter. So why didn’t I persevere with crunches, stair steps, or walks on sunny days? I could give you a load of excuses, but you’ve heard them all before. The bottom line is that power walking a 5k feels like a workout right now. I’m barely thinking about running twice that distance. My husband’s prodding has goaded me in walk-jog mode, but I hit the wall more often than I experience a runner’s high.
There are no shortcuts available to me in the next month. The only thing that will keep me from making a fool of myself or passing out are consistent training sessions and workouts. Right now, I could sprint a half-mile if I had to, but the distance requires enduring strength, not a short burst of energy. A 20-minute power walk every couple days won’t really help me get ready. Real training requires setting the bar a little higher every time, forcing myself to stretch a little farther than the time before, and keeping my appointments on the training schedule.
Strength. Consistency. Goals.
The discipline of running a race means waking up muscles I forgot I had and teaching them a little more every day. Without those practices, I’ll be hobbling across the finish line with the last of the stragglers.
It’s too easy to kid ourselves that taking the stairs here, walking a little further there, doing a few crunches or pushups one day a month is real exercise. Sure, it’s better than nothing, but where’s the discipline? Short answer: nonexistent. We wake up our muscles just long enough for them to grumble at us and go back to sleep.
Likewise, I can deceive myself about spiritual disciplines. They require every bit as much training, consistency, and sense of purpose. What good does it do me to pray for five minutes before bed, really? If I want to learn to better speak with God, then I need to do some more praying, more training, trying out the deep prayers of the Bible. Then, maybe I would better understand what a habit of prayer looks like. Do I want to be more generous? More loving? More patient? We’ve got to do more than let our spiritual muscles wake up and fall asleep again.
Trusting God – Streams in the Desert – January 24
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
But the dove found no rest for or the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him… And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf (Genesis 8:9-11).
God knows just when to withhold from us any visible sign of encouragement, and when to grant us such a sign. How good it is that we may trust Him anyway! When all visible evidences that He is remembering us are withheld, that is best; He wants us to realize that His Word, His promise of remembrance, is more substantial and dependable than any evidence of our senses. When He sends the visible evidence, that is well also; we appreciate it all the more after we have trusted Him without it. Those who are readiest to trust God without other evidence than His Word always receive the greatest number of visible evidences of His love.
–C. G. Trumbull
Believing Him; if storm-clouds gather darkly ’round,
And even if the heaven seem brass, without a sound?
He hears each prayer and even notes the sparrow’s fall.
And praising Him; when sorrow, grief, and pain are near,
And even when we lose the thing that seems most dear?
Our loss is gain. Praise Him; in Him we have our All.
Our hand in His; e’en though the path seems long and drear
We scarcely see a step ahead, and almost fear?
He guides aright. He has it thus to keep us near.
And satisfied; when every path is blocked and bare,
And worldly things are gone and dead which were so fair?
Believe and rest and trust in Him, He comes to stay.
Delays are not refusals; many a prayer is registered, and underneath it the words: “My time is not yet come.” God has a set time as well as a set purpose, and He who orders the bounds of our habitation orders also the time of our deliverance.
“Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded … and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?” – 1 Samuel 2:29 NKJV
Eli had been a dedicated priest, faithfully serving God and His people. Then, something changed. Something so serious that God removed his family from the line of priests. What happened? As people chosen to be His priests, Eli and his family had been given specific responsibilities. They were called to represent God, speak His words, and enforce His standards.
But the Bible says that Eli’s sons had become “corrupt” (v. 12). They took advantage of their role as priests for personal gain, committed “very great” sins, and “abhorred the offering of the Lord” (v. 17). The sad conclusion? “They did not know the Lord” (v. 12).
This was unacceptable for men chosen to be God’s representatives. Yet Eli continued to tolerate their behavior and “honor” his sons more than God Himself (v. 29).
The Bible declares that God wants us concerned about our families. He certainly wanted Eli to care about his sons. The problem was that he had the wrong priorities. He had failed in his responsibility to be “a faithful priest” who would do what was in God’s heart and mind (v. 35).
Any of us can be guilty of mistakes like these. This is why we need to be sensitive to the Spirit, careful to obey God’s Word. Let’s be people of prayer, seeking to please God. Seek first His kingdom. Be committed to being His representatives, always serving Him.