Summary: What do we do when even with all our prayers and all our begging of God, heaven is silent?
September 30, 2001 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
“When heaven is silent”
We love stories about answered prayer. We get a thrill hearing accounts of God’s miraculous interventions in people’s lives, even as God intervened in Ryan Williams’ life. It motivates us to be more diligent about prayer, so we pray. We’re specific, confident, and bold. We’re absolutely convinced God will answer. We feel a level of faith and enthusiasm that we’ve never experienced before. We ask, seek and knock…but God is silent. The thing that we wanted does not materialize. Our zeal is crushed and we wonder what happened.
We ask ourselves and God: “Is it worth it?” “Did I do something wrong?” “Does God even hear me?” “Does He care?”
Many of you who have children have probably seen the movie “The Santa Clause” where Tim Allen, after causing Santa to fall off of his roof and die, becomes the new Santa Claus. In that movie, Tim’s ex-wife and her new husband both confess that they no longer believe in Santa Claus. And they tell when it was in their lives that they stopped believing in him and what caused it. It was when requests that they had made of Santa were denied. The woman had requested a special doll, and the step-dad had requested a weanie-whistle. When they didn’t get what they wanted, they responded by simply closing themselves off to the reality of Santa Claus.
Some people respond that way to God when they don’t receive what they ask for. Cable television mogul Ted Turner, who is now one of the loudest voices criticizing Christianity, said he had a strict Christian upbringing. He even considered becoming a missionary at one point in his life. The Atlanta Journal Constitution quoted him as saying that he was saved seven or eight times in his life. But he said he became disenchanted with Christianity when despite his prayers that she would get well, his sister still died.
God’s “no” is not just limited to those who are living sinful lives. No matter how spiritual you may be, there are going to be times that God says “No” to your prayers. It doesn’t matter how much you have sacrificed or endured for the cause of Christ. Ask Paul. He had endured a lot. [list some of the sufferings that he had endured] It doesn’t matter either how much you have accomplished for the cause of Christ. There will be times that it feels like God has turned a deaf ear to your requests. Again, Paul is an example of one who had accomplished a great deal for God. He had started many new churches, written down portions of the Bible, and trained young pastors and missionaries. But even for him, there were times that heaven was silent. If it happened to Paul, it will certainly happen to you. How are you going to respond when it happens in your life? How are you going to make it through? I want to give you 6 Christ-honoring responses that you can make a part of your life when you face one of those times when God says “No” to your heart-felt desire.
1. Treat trials as a gift from God. “given to me”
You can treat them as a…
- Nuisance to be ignored “just go away”; “problems solve themselves”;
That noise in the car, or the numbness in your left arm, or the bills that you receive and immediately throw into file 13.
You don’t pray about them because you refuse to even acknowledge their existence.
- Punishment to be endured – “I deserve everything that I’m getting. Just better grin and bear it. It will be gone before too long.”
- Problem to be solved –
- Battle to be waged – are you going to fight against God?
Or as a …
- Gift to be accepted; acceptance is the issue; “the point of prayer is to get God’s will accomplished on earth not man’s will accomplished in heaven.”
Gifts bring joy. James 1:2 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing this, that the trying of your faith produces patience.
Gifts come from people who love you.
Gifts, at least the best ones, come from people who know you. I’ve received a lot of gifts over the years – toys and clothes and books. I remember a jar of pickles.
2. Remember what God has already said. “surpassing great revelations”
- When God doesn’t seem to be saying anything, rest your confidence on what God has already said.
- “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. His oath, his covenant, his blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.” “The Solid Rock”