Sometimes God is silent. Sometimes my prayers go unanswered and after a while it seems they are maybe unheard. I have been in this dark and uneasy quietness for a while. At first I tried harder to go back to the way our relationship worked in the past. Scripture times and getting up early to pray, Max Lucado and Beth Moore books. Nothing. Even going to church has become drudgery and just going through the motions. And most painful of all, attending my beloved ladies small group has left me empty. I love these women, very much. I wondered if I was loosing my faith…but I’ve had too many experiences of Him to ever abandon faith. I have seen and experienced miracles!
Then someone very dear to me suffered a miscarriage. I couldn’t wait to hold and love this baby. I knew this baby was blessed because my friend was the finest model of Christian motherhood. I often wish I could be more like her. She is a blessing and a joy to be around and doesn’t mind when I ask hard questions. I cried for days.
Then anger. Anger toward God who could allow something so horrible to happen to someone so undeserving. My anger took me by suprise but I let it roll out of me. I told God everything I was angry about. Look at what we humans do to each other. Why would you allow all of this suffering and pain? Why the Holocaust? Child abuse? Rape? Torture? I think everyone asks this of God at some point in their life. There isn’t an easy answer, if one at all. How can all of this be worth the horrible pain of the Cross. Then I didn’t speak to God at all for a while. I could give Him the silent treatment too you know.
This morning I open my Bible. I read in Matthew about Jesus’ baptism and the temptation. And I see something I’ve never noticed. First, the Father affirmed Jesus before the miracles…before His ministry began. The second thing I notice is that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness or desert. It is the word “led” that grabbed my attention and I didn’t read past this word. Jesus was led. We know the story about what happened. He fasted fourty days and nights and then while in this vulnerable state He was tempted by the Devil to sin. Jesus did not sin. He did not turn the stone to bread and eat.
Following God does not always lead us into nice and neat happy places. Even Jesus was led by the Spirit to the place where He would have to face the Devil. Jesus went into the wilderness with His Father’s affirmation. I never picked up the connection between these two events before. I guess because one part of the story is in chapter three and the other is in chapter four. Some days I think it would be nice to have a Bible without all of these verse numbers and chapters to distract me from the connectedness of the whole book.
The Father loved Jesus for who He is not because of any thing He had done up until His baptism. Jesus went to face the Devil with the Father’s affirmation. I think the Devil wanted Jesus to doubt what God had just spoken to Him. Maybe we fall into sin because we do not fully understand our affirmation from God. We forget our identity in Jesus. Identity in Jesus is hard to understand. That depth of love is hard for me to grasp. It is other…
Jesus taught me something with these passages this morning and I am still struggling to understand the message fully. But silence is not absence.