I am a very difficult person to get through to sometimes. It takes me a while to make connections, to come to the right conclusions, to grasp the concept that is being presented to me. But God is patient and loving and knows how to guide me into what He wants me to know.
It is hard for me to understand that we can be heard and still not get what we want. See, that’s how I grasp being heard. I say something, the person to whom I’m speaking listens and acts on what I’m saying, and I get what I want. I get upset when I don’t get what I want, what I’ve asked for. I feel like I haven’t been heard, like I’ve wasted my time. I intensely dislike wasting my time on unfruitful activities. (Unless I’m in the mood to be lazy, then of course that’s not a waste of time, it’s exactly what I want.)
In my previous relationship experiences there have been many times when I have felt unheard and unseen. Unacknowledged. Invisible. It has been a gaping wound in me. I have to wonder now if there were times that I felt that way simply because I didn’t get what I was asking for. One of the most precious things about the last year and a half of this journey with God is the connection to Him, the bone-deep truth that I am not alone, that I am loved and celebrated and appreciated for exactly who He made me to be. The month of February called that into question for me. I revisited the assumptions I used to live under, that God was angry and cold and unfeeling, sitting up there on His throne allowing us to suffer out of a distant heart, far removed from our pain. The assumption that He was going to do what He was going to do, whether it hurt us or not.
So then I found myself in a difficult place where once again the truth of God ran right smack dab into the evidence around me. What was I to believe, what He has shown me of Himself over the last year and a half, or what I was seeing in the moment? How often have I abandoned what I know to be true because it didn’t feel true at the time! How thankful I am that the truth of God has been laid by the Builder Himself as a firm foundation in my heart so that when the winds and waves came, when the storm raged around me, the foundation held.
I cannot tell you how many prayers I prayed during the month of February, pleading and begging God to turn the illness of my son-in-love around. I was always careful to pray that His will be done, even when I didn’t really want want it to. There were many times that I acknowledged that His will may not be to save this precious life, but I wanted Him to anyway. I listed out the reasons why He should, I listed out the acts and interventions that would bring Him glory. I listed out the things that would happen if He didn’t, the hearts that would be lost, the minds that would turn from Him in anger because He didn’t save this young man’s life. Almost as if it wasn’t enough that I just wanted this rescue, this salvation, I had to enlighten God about what would happen if He didn’t. I begged Him, my heart in an attitude of prayer almost round the clock. I know that others were also begging Him. I know that the throne of grace heard many pleas and prayers and requests for this wonderful young man.
I wondered what was the point of asking. Not just in the days surrounding his departure, but throughout the mountains and valleys of the entire journey. At every roadblock, every obstacle I wondered what was the point of asking for God’s intervention. He was going to do what He was going to do anyway. His plan was in place. My prayers weren’t going to change it. So why bother.
And yet, He has drawn me into relationship with Him. He has wooed me with His love. He has soothed me with His attention, with His care. He has sat with me and shared with me. He has hugged me and loved on me. He has healed wounds that I didn’t know I carried.
Such a dichotomy. A conundrum. If all that He has shown Himself to be was true, then why did He not act? If it was not true, then what was all that about for the last year and a half? Not just that, but even in the moments of deepest grief and pain, as my son-in-love was leaving this world, I believed my Jesus was there. I believed He had compassion, I believed He held us up. I believed He was in that room. Was I wrong?
If He was there, WHY DIDN’T HE STOP IT?! Why do we have to go through this immense debilitating pain? Why didn’t He listen?!
I felt unheard. I felt like I’d been hoodwinked, tricked. I felt dismissed, abandoned.
It’s not the first time I’ve felt that way either. And please understand, that’s all on me, not on God. I have felt before at what was previously the most devastating thing I had walked through that all of this life on earth was going to be a misery, a drudgery, and it was monstrously unfair that He would force me to stay here when I knew I would be so much happier if I were home with Him. But He was forcing me to stay here, and so all I could do was just put one foot in front of the other and get through. Endure the misery of this life with no joy. Looking back I have to shake my head at that episode because the joy He has brought me since then makes that misery look like a minor inconvenience.
But here I was again. My feelings not lining up with the revealed truth. I had a choice to make, and to be honest I didn’t want to make it. I wanted to ignore it. I didn’t want to look too closely at the questions roiling inside me because I think I was afraid of the answer. I was afraid that I had been tricked, that I had believed what wasn’t true. That everything I thought I had learned over this last year and a half was made up in my head. That everything I had told others about life with Jesus was a fabrication. Specifically, I didn’t want to be wrong about Jesus being with us in that hospital room. I didn’t want to be wrong that He cared and mourned and wept with us.
And I wasn’t.
We were heard in our desperate cries, in our pleas for His intervention. The heart of our Father was leaning into us, His eyes full of compassion and care. He was not unfeeling and cold as these events unfolded. He was not without power, unable to stop what was in motion. But He could see beyond that moment. I can’t. I don’t know why this had to happen. I don’t know how it will be redeemed and used for His glory. But I know I was heard. I know He heard my heart’s cry, and even though the answer was not what I wanted, He is able to heal, to redeem, to restore. He will use this for my good and His glory, because He has called me to be His own. He is all good, and He is all powerful. And He hears us when we cry out to Him. Not just the sensory act of receiving the sounds in His ears, He hears us. He leans into us. He wraps us in His arms and mourns with us with utter and complete compassion. Because He loves us.
He has answered these questions of mine, the ones I was afraid to ask, afraid to look at, over the last couple of weeks, planting seeds of truth here, watering there, and brought the root of it into the light this morning. He is good.
This won’t be the last time I don’t get what I ask for. But I will always be heard with a heart of compassion.