For instance, someone has been in a terrible car accident and is injured. I might pray for rapid recovery, or that God is with her in her pain, or that the doctors make wise decisions about treating the injuries. These are good thoughts, but do I really know the plan of God in all of it? Maybe she will stay injured, like Joni Erickson Tada whose injuries became part of her incredible ministry. If she is a Christian, God is always with her, pain or not. And so it goes.
This week I started rereading O. Hallesby’s classic on prayer. The first chapter points out that it is our helplessness that God hears. He answers our cries like a father who comes to the aid of a struggling child or a mother who hears the cries of her infant. He listens for that total dependence on Him to do something about the problem, not for the child’s uninformed plan for a solution.
At times I wonder who I think I am. Can I understand the plan of God or explain Him? What about the childlike faith of Noah who was asked to build a ship on dry land? Did he suggest to God a better way or a solution that made more sense?
What about Abraham who was asked to offer up his only son? He obeyed without suggesting alternatives that would be less difficult. He never told God what to do, not even in this. No wonder he is called the father of faith.
Then there was Joshua who is told to besiege Jericho seven days, using no weapons but the blasts of rams’ horns and the marching of his soldiers. This problem was large enough without this seemingly silly command from God for the solution. Yet Joshua did not argue, nor did his army mock God’s plan.
The saints of old acted upon God’s commands contrary to the dictates of human reasoning. Job, perhaps an exception for a time, experienced horrendous loss without any explanation from God. Although he had moments of clarity and faith, he complained and moaned, suggesting to God that He should at least explain Himself.
God then asked him things like, “Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like His?” (Job 40:9) He also pointed to the majesty of creation with the same question — Can you do this? Then Job answered Him saying,
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. “Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?” Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. “Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.” I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:1–6)He realized his helplessness and joined others in trusting God, regardless of the things that seemed like impossible problems, and stopped telling Him how to “fix” them.
I had a family experience yesterday that I cannot write about. However, I can say that I felt entirely helpless and clueless. In that frame of mind, I held up the problems to God, not knowing or seeing any way this could be solved. God’s answer was not only a surprise but an astonishment. Hallesby is right; God hears the cries of the helpless, but that is only one part of it. Those who are helpless need to cry out in faith. God is God.
*************Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (Jeremiah 32:17) You can do exceedingly abundantly above all that I can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), so instead of me imagining or telling You how to answer, help me to remember that everything is too hard for me — but nothing is too hard for You.