Kathy Bernard - Publisher

"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?   Far from my
deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by
day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I have no rest."
- Psalms 22:1-5

There is a feeling of isolation that insidiously creeps into our thoughts when we pray fervently and find only silence from God.  It is an unwanted, negative, and helpless state that we try to shake loose but cannot seem to wrench completely free. 

At first, we may think God cannot possibly be interested in our problems or our tragedies; perhaps our needs are too trivial when balanced against the major calamities or disasters of this world.  And yet this feeling of betrayal leaves us alone with our pleas, and we think that God has not bothered to listen or we are unworthy.  Or maybe He has turned His back in favor of other issues.  Those of us who are weak in the faith begin to doubt the power of God.

It is times like this that we do not recognize our crisis of faith.  To think we have lost the protective power of God causes doubt that can destroy our sugarcoated view of a God Who seems to withhold answers to our prayers.  We do not realize that what we want is not always what He chooses to give to us.  And so, this is a time of agonizing soul searching, and an upheaval of peace and surety.  It is then that we may make a human decision to define our relationship to Him, debate whether we are worthy of His attention, or come to the conclusion He is NOT really there.

WE are not unique in feeling forsaken and without hopeJesus felt God's silence  in the garden of Gethsemane and prayed saying , Abba, Father, He cried out, “everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine." Mark 14:36.   If the Son of God could feel such anguish, I, too, must pick up my cross with my name inscribed and keep moving ahead because with the faith God has given me, I can do nothing else. The bible does not paint this life as a perfect oasis of easy living.  I cannot bask in the sunshine of comfortable living while God picks up the tab.  It is through these harsh realities that I learn I have more strength than I realized when I am put to the test of treading through life's unforeseen horrors and hardships.

We have all heard about the patience of Job and even innocently joked about it.  But to Job this was no laughing matter.  For 37 Chapters of the Book of Job, he suffered silence from the God he served.  A good and faithful servant, Job had enjoyed a rich and abundant life.  But then things changed and he endured the worst tragedies any human could face.  His faith was strongly tested as he lost everything he held dear; his children were killed, his servants murdered, donkeys, oxen, sheep, and camels were stolen, and financially he lost all the riches he had.  Job begged and pleaded with God to help him, to send him a sign that He heard and would come to his rescue, but instead heard nothing from God in response to his pleas.  As a final blow, he developed painful boils on his entire body. And yet, during this time of trial without a single answer from God, Job continued to worship God, and he said  "...Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil (as well from Satan) ? In all this did not Job sin with his lips".  Job 2:10.

Pope Benedict, speaking of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, once said  "All believers know about the silence of God." And despite her immense charity and faith, the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta "suffered for fifty years from a period of doubt and a serious crisis of faith.  It is very significant that Pope Benedict said "Mother Teresa's torment was 'not unusual' ".  

Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest, wrote in the New York Times that “Mother Teresa experienced long, agonizing bouts of inner darkness which stretched over decades.  Her agony provoked her to doubt the very existence of God”.  Father Martin’s column (”A Saint’s Dark Night”) is based on a collection of Mother Teresa’s private journals and letters. They include what Father Martin calls “stunning findings” that she suspected God had abandoned her.  Please listen to Father Martin speaking on the feeling of abandonment that he, like Mother Teresa, also faced:   http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=13903581

God is ever faithful.  I must not allow the silence of God to tear away my hope and trust, for I know He is there and I will not permit the violent storms of this life to destroy my belief in Him.  Through the  havoc that bends my hopes, that tears at my heart, weakens my spirit, and tries to crush my faith bit by bit, I discover my human capacity to overcome and survive whatever turbulence is put in my way.  In spite of my circumstances, or lack of understanding, it is through these rough times I learn to trust God with all things, even His silence. I know He is there, listening to every plea, every word, counting each tear that I shed.  I know that my human mind cannot comprehend the infinite workings of God, the Creator, but I know He remains constant.  We, as human beings will never know how our Heavenly Father thinks or how He will solve the problems we bring to Him in prayer, and this is where trust comes in.  This is where faith comes in.  Faith is all things we hope for and yet we cannot see or prove its existence.  But I know He is there because the Holy Spirit that God puts into each of us fosters that belief.  I must quietly listen and heed its voice, taking comfort in Jesus' promise "Lo and I am with you always".  Matt 28:20  God does not come forward on my timetable or on my petitions.  Just because I do not "see" His great love, none can disprove its existence.  Sometimes our prayers will be answered, or He may be saying  “Wait on me because I have something much better for you.” 

How do we know this?  The bible speaks of this in Isaiah 40:31  “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” And Micah 7:7 ”As for me, I look to the Lord for help.  I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” 

Sometimes prayers appear unanswered, but we do not have the vision nor the ability to look into our earthly future to see the completed picture.   In hindsight, we can look back and see that the answers to some of our prayers was a “no” and we are able to see that God, in His mercy and supreme love, saved us from something that might have been disastrous.  God’s answer was “This is not My plan for you”.

Despite the silence, we must continue to offer ourselves in total surrender, never losing sight of our commitment to Him.  We must accept that He is there, and will always be there for us.  Not by giving balm for each tribulation, not doing extraordinary things to prove His power, but through realization that we must accept whatever He chooses to give, and reconciling ourselves when He does not give us the things we asked for, for we know in the final outcome, we will receive all things.   Many times God's "no(s)" are to strengthen us, and make us realize our dependence on Him.  It is then that we bow to God's authority yet continue to place our concerns in His loving hands. "For there is no other God but You, Who has care of all, that You should show that You do not give judgment unjustly." Wisdom 12:13.  

"In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He Who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the (Holy) Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."  Romans 8: 26-27. 

Now Job was ever faithful, even through his heartaches, hardships and pain. God, in His own time and infinite mercy, gave Job new wealth, granted him new children, and restored his health.  After Job's onslaught of misery and intense loss and suffering with no word from God, He finally spoke to him, not addressing Job's trials but offering him a glimpse of His extreme and almighty power.  In part He said:

"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?  Tell me, if you know so much.   Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line?  What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?  Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness?   For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores.  I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.  Here your proud waves must stop!’    “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east?  Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?  As the light approaches, the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal; it is robed in brilliant colors.  The light disturbs the wicked and stops the arm that is raised in violence." Job 38: 2-15 ( please read entire Chapter )  

The power of God is immeasurable, boundless, infinite, and I stand firmly on this, knowing that whatever this life hands to me, He will carry me through it.  He never promised to take away the ugliness of life or its hardships that cleanses, but He gave His almighty word to be with us always, giving us the courage to keep pushing forward.

And "Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. (I will) Wait patiently for the Lord.  (I will) Be brave and courageous. Yes, (I will) wait patiently for the Lord."   Psalms 27:13-14.  If I can stand firm through this immense trial of doubt and listen to the deep groaning of my soul verifying the existence of our Heavenly Father, if I can keep moving forward with no viable evidence except that which is written on my heart and soul, I will enjoy in this life either the precious answers given by a benevolent and ever loving Hand, or bear the silence of God’s determination which will prove, through time, that the things I asked for were not in His sacred plans for me.  I will, like Job, endure my tests and someday I will understand all things, whether in this life, or the next. 

This is my victory through Jesus Christ.

”I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my
guardpost.  There I will wait to see what the Lord
says and how He will answer my complaint.”
- Habakkuk 2:1


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