Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Why Doesn't God Hear Me?
If they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with scourges; but I will not remove from him my steadfast love, or be false to my faithfulness.
-- Psalm 89: 31-33
The readings today, in my morning prayers and in the mass, seemed to be a continuation of the thoughts I last had on “Where Is God?” And people I have met and spoken to since then seemed to be asking me that question. Only they were asking it in different words.
A woman, a stranger, came up to me and asked: “Can you pray for my children, and especially for my grandchild. They seem to have lost their faith.” And a friend spoke to me of her trials at work and her thoughts on the future: “I don’t know if any of this is important to me. I see myself retiring someday and wondering: Have I done anything important in my life?” Without speaking the words, it seems to me that both are asking: Where is God? Does anything I do matter? I feel unhappy or worried; can you pray to God for me --- He doesn’t seem to answer my prayers, nor bless my actions. Where is He?
In my last post here I described where God is; He is here among us, if we would just look for Him. But even more, He is here among us if we would believe it to be so, if we would have faith in what we cannot see with our eyes. Jesus told Thomas that he needed faith, and “blessed are those who believe without seeing.” Both these people who came to me were looking for God, but not looking in their hearts.
I said that I was struck by God in Medjugorje, the clarity of my grey-ish beliefs becoming clear solely through His action, the action of His Holy Spirit in me. That is what happened suddenly to me, even as it happened suddenly to Paul. Why did God do that for me is for Him to know, and me not to worry about. But what of the people who are wandering about, as I described it, in the dark and not seeing His light? It’s hard to just talk to them and convince them by MY words or actions: “Trust me, if you just look for God you will find Him. You will see the light if you try.” If they’ve grown used to the dark, telling them that there is light is like telling a blind person what it is to see. They can get an idea of what I am saying; they might even feel around and understand to some degree what I am seeing. But that is not seeing it for themselves.
If you have not experienced the impact of faith, it is hard to believe. I understand that. Even Job in all his tortures still had faith in part because he had at one time seen the presence of God in His life, and had felt His blessings. For some people it has been so long, or they have so focused on their particular sufferings of this day so much, they no longer remember that God once blessed them.
Despair comes more easily to some than others; some experts say it is a chemical thing in our makeup, and that some are more prone to it. Perhaps, but while God’s Holy Spirit can gift us with faith and turn on His light in us and chase away our darkness and despair, is there something we can do to encourage or be open to receive His light?
I think there is.
I have described on this blog how I once reached a point of despair in my life also, and how I gave up hope of doing good with my life, or of finding true happiness in my life. It was in that despair that I cried out to God that “I give up.” And I gave my life to Him, promising to stopI said I would always seek His will, not mine. I would no longer make great plans for my life without first seeking, seriously, His plans --- and wait for them patiently if they were not clear. And gradually over the years since then, the light has grown brighter for me, and I can see more clearly, and I have found true joy in my life. Where is God? Without asking those words, I found Him. And without specifically saying the words, “I trust in You,” I firmly acted as if I did. And so when I first read the story about Saint Faustina and the words of the Divine Mercy image, “Jesus, I trust in You,” they resonated within my soul. That picture of the Divine Mercy now hangs in my kitchen, and while I sometimes turn to it in my times of trial --- many times in these recent weeks --- I also glance at it in passing, as a constant reminder to have faith. And even more, it is a reminder of what I am to have faith in: not a man, but a God. Not in actions which I pray for, but in actions chosen by the One who loves me like a Father. That is what I have faith in, God’s never-ending love.
What can you do to promote receiving of that faith? I think putting up constant reminders to HAVE that faith will help. I wrote here a number of times about things I have done to encourage myself to have patience or perseverance or humility or to pray more often. All of the things I did to get those blessings involved reminding myself that I wanted them; and with the reminders, what I wished for and prayed for came about. I think a reminder to “have trust in God” will bring it about also. Trust, like love, is a matter of our will. We can will to trust; and we need to be reminded to do so. That Divine Mercy image does it for me.
Scripture says that we can love because He first loved us. I firmly believe that. If we have faith in that love, if we remember the times when we felt loved, if we remember the times when we gave love, willingly, we will dispel the despair of our hearts. “Why doesn’t God hear me?” we may ask. A better question is” Why don’t we listen to Him?”, for He is always present. We can always ask strangers to pray for us; we can always ask friends their opinions and for their prayers, and to just hug us when we really need a hug. All these things are good. But all these things are good because we are seeing the Light of God in these people around us; we are seeing His love present in those He brings into our lives. We need to understand that in turning to them, we are trusting in Him, and therefore in His love. We are not alone, without God. We need not fear or be anxious. We only need faith and to listen. And His never-ending love will flow over us.
Love conquers all things; we need to let it conquer our fears.
My Jesus, I trust in You.