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Devotion for February 14, 2007

Devotions

Maurice Sendak, children’s author and illustrator, admits that the Holocaust dealt the death-blow to his Jewish faith. Son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, he couldn’t reconcile such atrocities with a loving God. Elie Wiesel, survivor of a concentration camp himself and author of Night, agrees: “Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust.”

Where is God when I hurt? Why doesn’t God hear my prayers for rescue?  When God seems silent, or our prayers go seemingly nowhere, our faith is often shaken. We learned yesterday that God cares for us and that prayer is our way to depend upon Him. But what happens when God doesn’t come through?

Paul’s example to us of joy in suffering and contentment in trial illuminates some of the surprising realities in the Christian life. While the Lord’s Prayer assures us the privilege of coming to God and asking for our daily bread, it’s also true that God doesn’t always answer as we’d like. We’ve asked God to supply our needs, but finances are still tight and the health crisis still looms large. Do we keep praying even when it doesn’t seem to be working? 

From the outside, some might have wondered why God wasn’t taking better care of Paul, considering all the persecution, betrayal, physical deprivations, and attempts on his life he’d suffered (cf. 2 Cor. 11:16–33). He didn’t always have a surplus to enjoy from God. Sometimes there was scarcity. But he had contentment and strength from the Lord, enough to endure the challenges of life’s curveballs.

This passage today assures us that God is still good, that He is near, and that prayer is a must for the Christian life. For all that Paul lacked, he considered himself amply supplied. Our eye must be on the truth of who God is. Have faith in God’s character, no matter what the outcomes are.

Apply the Word

When prayers are unanswered, instead of reexamining God, we ought to reexamine our faith. Is our faith in God, in His goodness and power? Or is our faith in the outcomes we’ve predetermined? Knowing that God is willing and able to provide doesn’t automatically exempt us from suffering, difficulties, and pain—we still live in a world suffering from the consequences of the Fall. Accepting this means rejoicing in what we don’t understand, knowing God has a greater purpose.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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