One way God speaks to his children is by asking them questions. We see him doing this throughout both Testaments of the Bible. And the way he poses his questions exposes the thoughts of the heart. For example:
- When Elijah was hiding in the cave, the Lord asked, "Elijah, what are you doing here?"
- When Peter began walking on the water toward Christ, his doubts caused him to sink in the waves. Jesus asked the disciple, "Why did you not believe?"
- When Saul, soon to become Paul, was on the road to Damascus, Christ asked him, "Why do you persecute me?"
These questions were penetrating. They were designed to make the hearers think, to look deep within their hearts.
Today, God still uses questions to get to the heart of matters with his children. At times, the Lord speaks to me with a question. Once when I was seeking him in prayer, a question popped into my heart. I heard the Spirit asking, "David, do you accuse me of child neglect?"
I was astounded at the very thought. Then the Spirit whispered to my soul: "You are my child. I am your Father. Yet, do you doubt me? In your mind, do you accuse me of neglecting you? Do you think at times that I don't hear your sincere cries?" I had to search my heart before answering.
The truth is we Christians rarely verbalize our doubts and unbelief. We never say to others that the Lord has neglected us. We never say he has been silent to our cries, that he hasn't heard our cries or prayers, that he hasn't been working on our behalf.
But the fact remains we do think such thoughts. These questions and other doubts exist deep within us. They are things we feel when God seems to be silent toward our prayers.
I believe God gave me this message because the Spirit wants to deal with each of us about trusting our Father fully. Our worship in church, our heart–felt praise, our daily Christian walk — all are in vain if we think God is neglecting us in some area of our lives.
Let me share with you some of the questions the Lord has put to me regarding this. I believe it is important for all of us to settle three particular questions in our hearts. If we can do this, our faith and confidence in the Lord will be quickened.
1. "Does God have the answer to every question and need in my life?"
Any believer who wishes to please God with his prayer life must first settle this question: "Does God have all I need? Or do I need to go elsewhere for my answer?"
This appears to be a simple question — perhaps one that doesn't even need to be asked. Most Christians would answer, "Yes, of course, I believe God has all I need." But in reality many of us are not convinced! We say we believe it. We sing hymns and preach about it. But then a crisis hits and God doesn't seem to answer. Often at such times, we don't truly believe he has what we need.
Paul exhorts us, "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). The Lord has a storehouse of abundance with which to meet our every need. And servants of faith know this. Why did the troubled woman in Jesus' parable keep bothering the unjust judge? She kept pleading, even demanding, "Give me justice!" It was because she knew he alone had the power and authority to solve the problem she faced.
God spent forty years trying to convince Israel they would never lack anything. He promised he would be their constant source and supply. "The Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing" (Deuteronomy 2:7).
God was saying, "There is no scarceness, no shortage with me. I have all you need. And I gave it to you." "The Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land…a land wherein…thou shalt not lack any thing in it… When thou hast eaten (thou shalt be full)" (8:7, 9–10).
Today, the Lord has brought us into our Promised Land: Christ! Jesus is to us an abiding place where there is never any lack. He represents the fullness of the Godhead bodily. In the Old Testament, believers had the skekinah glory of God. But God says he has provided something even better for us. And that is the very presence of Jesus himself. He in constantly present in us.
Scripture says of Moses' time: "Forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not…. (They) delighted themselves in thy great goodness" (Nehemiah 9:21, 25).
I ask you, do you delight in the Lord's goodness to you? Or are you more likely to whisper within your heart, "God hasn't been good to me. My prayers aren't being answered. So many things in my life have been left hanging."
If God could take 3 million Israelites through the wilderness, do you doubt he can take care of you? You may marvel at the way he took care of Israel. But when you look at your own life, do you say, "Poor me"? That is accusing God of child neglect.
Israel was never convinced they would have all their needs supplied by trusting in God completely. In that respect, they were not a holy people. On the contrary, they were disobedient, impudent and idolatrous. At one point, Moses even told them, "Ever since I've known you, you've been bent on backsliding."
Yet when those same Israelites called out to God, he came and answered their cry. He had mercy on them. Tell me, will the Lord not all the more hear the cries of those who love him today? Will he not answer us who have left our idolatry behind and pursued him passionately?
Maybe you find it hard to believe that. Deep down, you aren't convinced God has everything you need and will supply it. In that case, you accuse him of being an unfit Father. You are saying he has no right to raise a child. You accuse him of having all power and authority to provide for you but that he hides it from you.
It doesn't matter what your problem is or how confusing the maze you're navigating at present. If you will wait faithfully on Jesus, he will give you all wisdom, knowledge and grace sufficient for your trial. He has always made a way for those who trust in him fully. And he will do it for you.
2. "Does my Father see what I'm going through, and does he care?"
God asks us another simple question. And I believe this question isn't answered honestly by many Christians. The Lord asks us, "Do you truly believe I see exactly what you are enduring right now?"
Perhaps as you read this message, you're going through something that calls for him to act on your behalf. The very nature of your problem demands an answer.
Let me ask you something. Do you believe God gladly, even joyfully, monitors your every move, the way a father does with his infant child? Do you believe he is interpreting every thought you think, as a father does with his ponderous child? Do you believe he is at work as your loving, caring Father — bottling every tear, hearing every sigh, hovering over you?
That is exactly the way the Bible describes him:
- "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry…. The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles" (Psalm 34:15, 17).
- "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7).
- "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him" (Psalm 103:13).
The Hebrew word for "pity" here means "to fondle, cuddle, love, be compassionate." Scripture is saying God cuddles in his arms those who fear (believe) him. He puts his arms around you, strokes your cheeks, holds you to his breast. And he tells you, "I know all your thoughts, all your concerns. I know every battle you must face. And I care about it all."
David wrote a famous passage about this very subject. He said, "O Lord… thou hast known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before….
"How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee" (Psalm 139:1–5, 17–18). David is saying, "God knows all about me. He sees my every move, even my thoughts. Everywhere I turn, there he is."
Think of it. No matter what you are going through, no matter how you feel, the Lord sees it all — and he cares. He doesn't just know about your infirmities. The Bible says he feels them. He knows every move you make, all that you say and do. And the whole time, he thinks precious thoughts about you! He says, in essence, "My thoughts of you are so powerful and so many, they are more than the sands in the sea."
Many Christians go through life thinking God is angry with them. They think they can never please him. How wrong they are. David was not a perfect man. He sinned more grossly than most Christians ever will. Yet David was able to testify, "How precious are your thoughts unto me, O God!"
God is not mad at you right now. He is thinking precious, loving thoughts about you. He is even cuddling you in his arms at this very moment. He knows the way you feel. And he cares. He wants to tell you, "Yes, you are going through a great trial. You're being tempted and tossed. But you are my child — and I will never allow the enemy to ensnare you. I'm going to bring you through."
Finally, there is a third question we have to answer.
3. "Is God willing to come forth to my aid?"
Do you believe God is willing to come quickly to solve your problem? Here is where many Christians fall short. They know God has all they need; they admit he cares. But they aren't convinced he is willing to come to help them.
When God doesn't answer their cry right away, they imagine hindrances and inner blockages in themselves. They think of all kinds of reasons why the Lord must not be willing to come to their aid. No! That is accusing God of neglecting his child.
On Mount Carmel, Elijah spoke confidently of his God. And he taunted the prophets of Baal by accusing their god of child neglect: "They…called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered…. It came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
"And they cried loud, and cut themselves after their manner…till the blood gushed out upon them…. (But) there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded" (1 Kings 18:26–29). Hear these words again: "There was no voice…no answer…no one to pay attention or regard."
What Elijah described is exactly how we accuse God of child neglect. We pray, we cry aloud to God, but we go our way not believing he has just heard us. We walk away from the Lord's presence — away from the church, away from the secret closet of prayer — wondering if he has paid attention to our cries.
The Lord is always ready to hear and answer our cry for help. I love what David said of him: "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee…. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me" (Psalm 86:5, 7).
David testified, "My God is ready and willing to answer me in the very moment I cry out to him. I don't stop and contemplate my trouble. I don't grieve over it or try to figure it out. I go to my Lord and cry, 'Help!'"
That is all God is waiting for: your heartbroken cry, uttered in childlike faith.
We are to ask in faith, believing he will answer.
"Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord" (James 1:6–7). This verse spells out exactly why we are taught to ask in faith.
Scripture says that while under bondage in Egypt "Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God…. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered…. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them" (Exodus 2:23–25).
God didn't answer Israel because they were worthy. On the contrary, the Lord had much to teach them. He heard them because they earnestly cried. We're told he "took notice" and heard their cry.
Just before Moses died, he reminded the people of God's faithfulness to come forth at their cry: "The Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: and when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders" (Deuteronomy 26:6–8).
The Israelites, as backslidden and idolatrous as they were, simply cried out to the Lord. Likewise, God is telling his beloved children today, "You can call upon me, you can cry out to me, and I will hear." Are you afflicted? bound? troubled? Needing deliverance? Cry aloud, with faith. God is ready to deliver you with wonders wrought by his mighty arm.
Israel's history can be summed up in these few verses: "The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God…. (But) when the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer" (Judges 3:7, 9). God's people repeatedly forgot him. But when they cried out, he came.
The prophet Samuel chided Israel by reminding them of how their fathers had cried out to the Lord: "They cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord…but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies…. And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe" (1 Samuel 12:10–11).
God always sent deliverance. It didn't matter how badly the people had sinned against him, how terribly they forsook him. In the very moment they cried out to God, he went to work to save and deliver them.
Dear one, do you believe God has turned a deaf ear to your cries? Do you believe he was willing to hear the cries of a stubborn people bent on sinning who hardly ever trusted in him fully — yet would turn a deaf ear to the sincere cry of a faithful, believing child like you? Never!
No matter what you are facing, he will not allow Satan to overcome you. He has put a wall of fire around you. And he is ready to come to your aid at a moment's notice.