One of those things that can be a little irritating for many of us is when we try to connect with someone and we get no response. Fifty years ago we were a bit more patient because we waited on a letter to arrive in the mail. Prior to that we waited on a telegram perhaps. There was no expectation on getting a response right away and we trusted the postal system or telegrapher would be attendant to the job he or she was paid to do.
Each decade has brought us more ways to communicate and connect. Answering machines and emails moved us ahead considerably in our ability to connect. But they also made it harder for us when a call wasn’t returned or an email wasn’t answered. It left us wondering if the person we wanted to reach received the message. Sometimes if an email bounced back noting it wasn’t the right address, we discovered the problem. Many times it didn’t bounce back and yet no response came.
As our phones got smarter, our expectations grew with the advent of texting, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and more. Now we had the potential for almost instantaneous communication no matter where we were or what we were doing. That didn’t always result in answers.
Getting a response has been with us since birth. Before we had words, we cried to get a response from our parents that we were hungry or needed a diaper changed or wanted someone to hold us to know we were not alone.
At issue underneath our desire for a response is not just about getting an answer. It’s about knowing we matter, that someone cared enough about us to respond.
It’s little wonder that we can be tempted to stumble in our relationship with God when we don’t get an answer we hope for or it is delayed. Some of us can wonder if He is listening or if He heard.
When that question nibbles at our faith, an Old Testament verse gives a clear answer:
“Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.”
Isaiah 65:24 (NIV)
Do we really grasp that God is good?
We say we do, but the level to which it permeates our understanding has a great deal to do with whether or not we recognize our own badness apart from his incredible gift of grace born of his goodness.
We sometimes wonder if God has gotten the message that we are ill, discouraged, depressed, lonely, angry, disappointed, and fed up with one thing or another. We also wonder if justice will ever come in the midst of a life of inequality and unfairness.
There is only one answer.
If we grapple with that, consider how often in Revelation 2 and 3 John quotes the Lord saying, “I know…” The statement is in response to seven church bodies that are identified, but represent Christian believers of all types through the ages. I think those two words, “I know,” were meant to both reassure and challenge because what followed was most often commendation and challenge.
- “I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance…” Rev. 2:1a (ESV)
- “I know your tribulation and your poverty…” Rev. 2:9a (ESV)
- “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is…” Rev. 2:13a (ESV)
- “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.” Rev. 2:19 (ESV)
- “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” Rev. 3:1c (ESV)
- “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Rev. 3: 8 (ESV)
- “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!” Rev. 3:15 (ESV)
Our message to God has been received.
The more important question is whether we have received his message to us and responded. It’s a message of love from the One who is love.
“Yet love has no weight, or size, or substance. It does not know the barriers of time or space or distance, of life and death. Love travels on the wind. Love is greater than the trials and the suffering of this world. Love endures all things.”
Lisa Wingate in Good Hope Road