Author Philip Yancey (of whom I am a big fan) says there are 3 questions we struggle with when we feel God’s distance and want or need him to be close. The questions are: Why is God hidden? Why is God silent? Why is God unfair?
At the root of our doubts, usually one of these three questions lurks.
We are sometimes permitted to live in these questions for months and years at a time. Some handle it by embracing a lukewarm faith, relegating God to the category of Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. You don’t want to give him up altogether, but you no longer expect anything from him. However, you still visit him on holidays and in times of need.
Others divorce him altogether.
And then there is a third choice, which I believe constitutes the life of faith. It’s the willingness to live in the disappointment and silence, with the openness to see how God will show up.
It may not happen the way you think He should or want Him to, but it may be your first glimpse of the God who truly is.
For those who need that glimpse, this story is for you:
After six years of trying to get pregnant, the doctor gave Shannon and Dave the hopeful news that they could have a baby at any time. There was nothing wrong with either of them.
The problem was, they weren’t having a baby, and as they continued to watch rounded bellies and car seats spring up all around them, the hole in their hearts grew.
After thousands of unanswered prayers, Shannon and Dave quietly sat in the silence of God.
Months passed, and one day when they were in church, a young woman stepped onto the stage to make an announcement. The woman worked for Angels Foster Care, an agency that placed babies born to drug addicted mothers into the arms of loving parents. As she talked about these babies born in desperate situations, Shannon felt God break his silence. This wasn’t the path she had prayed for, but a strange stirring told her this was the answer to her prayer. Dave’s response confirmed her feelings.
God had surfaced — not in the way they expected or hoped for, but in a way neither of them could ignore.
As this dear couple went through the battery of tests required to become foster parents, their longings were reshaped and changed. They would no longer focus their efforts solely on delivering a child; instead they would become available for a child to be delivered to their home.
When little Miss Ruby came to Angels, she was loved by everyone she met. You couldn’t just call her Ruby; she was “Miss Ruby” to everyone who crossed her path. With her diminutive stature and porcelain-doll looks, she housed a personality double her size. No one could resist her, but she had been caught in a whirlwind of unforeseen circumstances that had kept her from being permanently placed.
At this point, Ruby needed more than temporary foster housing; what she needed was a permanent home.
With a swift phone call from the Angels social worker, Shannon and Dave became that home. Skipping the experience of potty training and guiding first steps, they became “Mommy and Daddy” the minute that Ruby walked into their lives. In the months that followed, Ruby helped her parents become those names, though she started calling them that the day they met.
Because Shannon and Dave were willing to widen their lens for the answer to their prayer, they became the answer to another prayer. And when Ruby was permanently adopted into their family, they never doubted for a minute that she was meant to be theirs.
In Disappointment with God, Yancey makes the point that the root of these questions — Why is God silent? Why is God hidden? Why is God unfair? — is inevitably personal. What we’re really asking is, “Why is God unfair to me? Why does he seem silent with me? Why is God hidden from me?” This seems to be an important observation when it comes to finding our faith in the dark.
Question to reflect on:
How have you seen God answer prayer a different way than you expected?
For more information on Finding Faith in the Dark, out July 2014, check out this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKxS5LZ2A10