Typically, when I text someone with a question and I don’t get a response, I assume that either they didn’t see the text or they’re dodging me. I sometimes feel a bit impatient and I suppose there have been moments when I’ve felt a little offended. Same with a voice message. Or a Facebook message. Or en email (for those of you born after 1999, here’s what an email is).
It is a little different when God doesn’t seem to be answering.
Simply, we’ve been invited to ask Him for help through prayer. I know there’s more to it, but that is the bottom line. So, it is often confusing when we feel like there is no answer, and that may feel like it happens regularly. In fact, you may feel as though you’re in the middle of that situation right now. In a lesson I participated in today a thought occurred to me that helped me gain a little understanding into this oft-repeated situation, and it stems from a well-known story in the New Testament.
When Jesus had arrived in the coastal area of Tyre and Sidon (a non-Jewish community) he was met by a Canaanite woman who needed help. Her daughter was in trouble and she was asking Jesus to bless her, to help her, to heal her. Here is what followed her pleading:
“But he answered her not a word…” (Matthew 15:23)
So her prayer was met with…silence. Can you imagine her thoughts?
Did he hear me?
Should I repeat my question?
Is he paying attention to me?
Am I not good enough for him?
Am I not asking correctly?
Am I not using the right language?
Is there some secret code I don’t know?
Is he pre-occupied?
What is his problem?
Does he not love me and my daughter like he seems to love everyone else?
But I wonder if Jesus was teaching. Teaching her. Teaching his disciples. Teaching us. His disciples arrive on the scene (from either close by or far away) and think she should be dismissed. That would’ve discouraged her I’d imagine. I wonder if Jesus, upon hearing the disciples’ dismissive tone smiled a little and thought here’s a good teaching moment for both the woman and for my disciples…
He doesn’t respond the disciples’ request either, which I find interesting. He converses with the woman, maybe discerning her faith through conversation as she makes her case that, yes, Jesus wasn’t really there to minister directly to the Gentiles, but that maybe there was still a blessing for her (which she rightly surmises). He may have been helping her strengthen her faith by exercising it. He also may have looked over at the disciples after healing the woman’s daughter as if to say, “We’re not here to dismiss anyone who approaches us in faith. We’re healers. We’re teachers. We’re hear to bless. One day you’ll be in the position I was in today and I don’t want you to be dismissive…”
The point, I suppose, is that Jesus wasn’t doing nothing when he didn’t immediately answer the woman in verse 23. There was always a plan even if it wasn’t obvious to the woman. But there was more to it than the woman probably was aware of.
There is a plan for you, too. Yes, God hears you. He wants to teach you and strengthen your faith. He wants to teach those around you and strengthen their faith. But that takes time. He may answer you “not a word” today. And tomorrow. And this year. But He is working on things, I promise…