- JESUS: The Series (Season 4)
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And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
Isn’t that a crazy question for God to ask God? Why have you forsaken me? Why? No immediate answer, no miracle, no sign from heaven. Just darkness in the middle of the afternoon. In this question, Jesus legitimizes the longing as humans to have an explanation. He also demonstrates that sometimes the explanation doesn’t come when we think we need it the most.
We won’t ever suffer like Jesus did but there are Good Friday seasons in our lives, confusion, abandonment, pain all push us to cry out “why?!” Let’s set out to try and answer that question.
In Mark Twain’s book Huckleberry Finn there is a passage that reads like this – “Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed. but nothing comes of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for / would get it. But it warn’t so. I tried it Once I got a fish-line, but no hooks. It warn’t any good to me without hooks. I tried for the hooks three or four times, but somehow (couldn’t make it work. By and by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a fool. She never told me why, and I couldn’t make it out no way. I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it . . . No, says I to myself, there ain’t nothing in it.” Huck Finn gave up on prayer over a simple thing like getting a fishing line without hooks. That’s all it took. God didn’t jump into action to provide fishing hooks so that was it, prayer didn’t work. Prayers like “God if you love me make that tree fall over” very much fit into this category. Why doesn’t God answer some prayers?
Some prayers aren’t answered because they are silly. There are almost 7 billion people in the world and sometimes our prayers contradict each other. One man in blue and green prays RCB wins, while on the other side in Bridgeport a prayer goes up “please let my sons win.” One bride prays for sunshine while the farmer prays for rain. There are prayers in America for more wealth, while third world countries pray they could get a piece of the world’s economy.
So why pray then? First, we must pray because it is a mark of a real relationship and because God wants us to ask for help. And yes God sometimes answers our trivial prayers in a supernatural way. Why? Maybe because that one event will change our life for years to come, maybe because He loves us and just wants to show us that sometimes. Also praying about tiny things opens our eyes to the hundreds of little blessings we have every day. All good things come from God, so is it miraculous the sun rose today? No, but did God do it, yes! But when one of our little prayers isn’t answered like rain on our wedding day. We must remember that God loves all 7 billion people, and he undoubtedly answered someone prayers with that rain.
Miracles by definition are rare. Much rarer than the TV evangelist would want us to think. Imagine how complex this world is, with all its harmony and moving parts. If every prayer for a sunny day were answered because of an event we have planned then it would rarely rain and we need rain! If God answered every prayer continually while breaking every law of nature the effects would be devastating. The earth needs storms, they cool the atmosphere. Without tropical storms the tropics would be much hotter. God won’t calm every storm like He did on the sea of Galilee.
Some prayers aren’t answered because they are contradictory. Does that make Him less powerful? No. It shows He sees beyond this moment. God however is all-powerful, He sent rain to Noah, and drought on Ahab. In almost 7 billion people it’s almost certain that many many prayers will be answered but for our greater good, he will not simply answer every prayer. CS Lewis says “the very concept of a stable and orderly world demands that miracles be rare.”
The next reason won’t be very satisfying but sometimes prayers aren’t answered because life is tough. Some Christians believe that God’s main focus is to make them happy. Imagine life 500 years ago, when everything they owned they had to make, draw water, grind flour, make clothes. And we complain now how life is hard?
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you (1 Peter 4:12)
Maybe we need to adjust our view of life. Take for instance, two people that both stay the night at a dilapidated old building. One thought it was an expensive hotel and they are utterly disappointed, the other thought it was a prison and they are pleasantly surprised. When we live life with the understanding that life is hard it will help you rejoice in the good times so much more.
Getting God to do what you want Him to do is not the purpose of prayer, the purpose of prayer is a relationship with the one that made you. Stop what you’re doing and call out to God to help you grow in your prayer life and grow closer to Him.