Is Anyone Listening?

I recently had a conversation with a friend whose nephew is dying. As the family waits for what seems to be inevitable, they pray. My friend’s brother, father to the man who is so ill, is struggling with why God isn’t answering his prayers. I imagine that he is praying that his son will be healed—such a prayer would be natural. No father expects to bury his son. He’s been a believer for a long time. He understands that God always heals, but not always in the way that we would like Him to heal. But he still wants his son, alive and well—who can blame him?

That conversation came to mind when I read Psalm 94 this morning. Many of us have times when we wonder if God is even aware of our struggles, if He is listening to our prayers. The psalmist reminds us: “Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?” (Psalm 94:9, 10)

The psalmist is dealing with one of those questions: Is God paying attention? And if He is paying attention, why doesn’t He do what I keep asking Him to do? In the writer’s case the issue is why evil continues unpunished.

As often happens in the psalms, the writer ends up with something that, if it doesn’t solve the problem, renews his faith that God is aware and active no matter what the situation. He writes: “Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul…the Lord has become my fortress and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. He will repay them for their sins and destroy them for their wickedness; the Lord our God will destroy them” (vss.17-19, 22, 23). What the writer has asked for hasn’t happened yet and God hasn’t given him a timeline as to when it will happen. But the psalmist has latched on to an important truth: “…the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance” (vs. 14).

We could almost add to verses 9 and 10 this phrase: “Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge? Does he who never lies make a promise and then not keep it?

I feel for my friends. What they are experiencing is not easy. And though it is inevitably hard to hang on to in these difficult circumstances, this promise is made about the One who hears, sees, and who never lies: “And my God will meet all your needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

He will not fail.

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