Does God not care? Is our pain and heartache not important to Him?
So often, when circumstances become uncomfortable, or when we have a need, or even a want, we run to God to ask for a miracle. Then we become upset or even angry when God does not intervene in the way we expect. Sometimes we do experience a miracle – a house sells just in time, the doctors are able to treat the illness with success, a womb is opened to grow new life. More often, though, we can spend years receiving no apparent answer.
Of course, we believe God loves us. The Bible tells us so. God does care about our circumstances. So why is He silent in our time of need?
The Bible story of Jonah may give us an answer. While Jonah wanted to serve God, he didn’t like the direction God was leading, so he chose his own path instead. Then his life became a storm of unpleasant activity, and he soon found himself in the belly of an uncomfortable circumstance. He cried out to God and was, after three days, rescued. However, we can be sure the repercussions of his decisions continued to affect his life.
In Matthew, Jesus uses the story of Jonah to answer the why of unanswered prayer.
But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:39-40)
Do not dwell on the fact that we may be an evil, adulterous generation (though we most certainly are), but notice what Jesus says about the purpose of Jonah’s whale of an experience. His journey through the uncomfortable time was the sign they needed to see, not the rescue.
So when we are faced with dark, uncomfortable, unpleasant circumstances, do not too quickly plead for God’s miraculous rescue. Rest in His arms, knowing God has a plan. Perhaps our struggles, not the answer to our struggles, are part of His message to us and to the world. In the midst of feeling swallowed by pain, disappointment or fear, God is present.
The journey is the message.