By Kevin Howell
It sucks to be ignored. Whether it’s purposeful and personal or by accident, you feel a bit disrespected when someone ignores you. This can happen at a restaurant when the host or server ignores you, or at work when you present an idea and someone doesn’t even acknowledge it. Or, when you smile and say hi to a stranger of the opposite sex, and she just looks away and keeps walking (okay, maybe that’s just me).
But probably the most difficult diss is from God. When you’re going through times of discontent, worried about your future, your employment, your bills, or your family, and you seemingly get no sense of acknowledgement from your Creator. Yeah, I’ve been dealing with that this year.
It’s not that I haven’t been listening to Him, He’s just been straight up quiet, giving me the silent treatment, it seems. I’ve prayed that He’ll change the situation and work His magic — you know, the tax money in the fish’s mouth, water-into-wine, mortgage magically paid off, and a wife that looks like Lolo Jones type of stuff — but I get no response. In my mind, I’m thinking: “Does he see me? Is He busy watching the Republican debate? Do I need to come back later? What’s up?” And the longer I wait for a resolution, the more frustrated I get.
The funny thing is, this is nothing new. I’m not the only one who has felt a sense of divine indifference. King David dealt with it regularly, and wrote a song or 200 about it. Nothing expresses the human anguish we all deal with more than David’s Psalms. And believe me, none of us have experienced more pain and drama than David. His life was like a combination of One Life to Live, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, Dynasty plus a few of those novellas on Telemundo. So we can learn a lot from his life and his prayers. One thing about David is he didn’t hide his feelings. He didn’t come to God with elegant prayers, or any Jewish ritual hymn. No, he was real. He expressed his anguish and frustration. As Pastor Judah Smith once said, “Sometimes prayer is just chucking stuff up to God.”
But after David ranted about God abandoning him and all of that, there was always a change at the end. There was always a sense of hope. There was always confidence God would turn his situation around. In fact, the way I read it, it’s more than confidence, but a surety. Sometime during David’s soliloquy, God provided peace. The circumstances didn’t necessarily change, but peace arrived.
There’s a saying that God doesn’t show up when you want Him to, but He’s always on time. I’ve found that to be true in my life. Even as I felt like He’s ignored my cries, He has shown up in simple, discreet ways to quell my concerns. Earlier this year, as I was feeling frustrated with life, I read a phrase in a devotional that provided peace: “Don’t worry about your life…” It’s just five words, mid-sentence, of Matthew 6:25, but it was like an earful to me. It lifted the burden of worry I was carrying and brought peace. Recently, He reminded me of those words again.
God isn’t ignoring me. He hears my cries; He sees my frustration. In His eyes, I’m not suffering; I’m just enduring — enduring the inevitable conflicts of life. It’s a process that makes me stronger, and that brings fulfillment of His promises. So I wait, patiently, with a peace and surety that He’s working even though I can’t see it.
“For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and enjoy to the full what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)