I hear you

father and son learning to ride a bicycle at the beach having fun together

“Where are you?” Voice raw, red faced, I shake my fist at the sky and shout. I pray, I plead, I beseech, and he… is silent.

God answers my prayers all the time, but it seems like they are mostly small things: help me figure this out, give me the right words to say, please don’t let me get sick. It also seems like he is conspicuously absent on the big stuff I am going through. Where are you, I cry out. What do I do? Don’t you want me to do your will? Silence. At times I wonder if he hears at all.

During one such time, I paused to take a breath and he seemed to say, “I hear you.” In an instant I understood. Why is it he answers the small stuff? So that we know he hears and answers the big stuff too. What we forget about the big stuff is that we have to walk through it to grow. He has incredible plans for you, but he can’t give them to you unless you are spiritually grown up enough to receive them. God wants to build character in you – something of eternal value. God does not want to rob us of the incredible value in making our own decisions (he did give us a free will after all). Part of growing up is learning to ride without training wheels.

When we are afraid, we want him to tell us exactly which direction to take – “go left.” We don’t want to fail, but failure isn’t his biggest concern, growing our faith is. He wants us to pray and take the trembling uncertain step forward in faith (and righteousness). What we don’t see is that although he takes the training wheels off, he is right behind us, hands inches away. Even when it seems like he is not there when you’re in the worst of it, once you walk through the valley and look back, you’ll see all the places that he guided you or kept you from crashing and burning. Plus, he answers in ways we don’t expect.  At the time we don’t see them as answers – just coincidences or circumstances.  Later we see them for what they are – little miracles.

For several years I thought I was going to lose everything. I lived with a fist gripping my heart, every day squeezing it tighter and tighter. At times I could hardly breathe. I felt like David fighting Goliath, except I was about to be brutally slaughtered. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed and heard nothing. I remember deciding to spend my daily prayer time at the office instead of at home. Home was not a peaceful place. Our office at the time was a modular trailer that had once been a church library. I ended up reading a few of the books. They started me on a journey of spiritual education that has changed my life. I cannot emphasize how important this step was for my walk with God; it was transformational.

Funny how something so small became foundational to my spiritual and intellectual growth. Funny how I didn’t realize it was actually an answer to my biggest prayers (even the ones about money and physical safety). Looking back there were dozens of these answers. I learned to be at peace in the face of imminent destruction. As it turned out, God crushed Goliath and I came out unscathed.

God’s silence isn’t him not answering, it’s us not noticing. Look at what you can see, so that you can learn to trust what you cannot. When you are afraid, remember that his hands are always right behind you and around you.  No matter how it seems, you are completely safe.

(Watch: SELF WORTH: Getting The Right Appraisal)