One of my favorite things about Jesus is His attention to detail. I love animals so much because it amazes me how God made so many different kinds, and yet still managed to give each individual one has its own personality and preferences too. Whoa!! I also love plants and flowers because each one is so different, so intricately designed and uniquely beautiful that honestly it’s hard for me to pick a favorite.
Details are so important to me because details show me that God cares. Whether it’s the way that each star has a name or the way that Jesus controls exactly how far the tide reaches or the way that He knows each animal on the hillside… we serve a God who puts so much detail into the way He creates and cares for His creations. I’ve seen this lately in the way that the Lord has answered my prayers. In the past two weeks, Jesus has given me a new best friend, a rabbit, two of my very favorite plants, and a swing for my balcony. Each of these things were plopped in my lap, tailored to the specifics of my heart and given at just the time when I would appreciate them the most.
Because, truthfully, this has been a difficult season. I’ve been asking for really big things for a long while now and discouragement has crept in as I still see no progress (or hope for progress) in any of them. I’ve been begging Jesus for things like healing for my dad or to be pursued by a man who genuinely loves Jesus or to finally have vision for my future and the wisdom I need to decide how I can best use my talents… and yet here I sit, single with almost no direction for my future and the world’s sweetest, most precious dad that still has a debilitating disease. My heart has grown dim with the assumption that either Jesus doesn’t hear me or doesn’t care enough about me to answer… and while He still hasn’t answered my prayers, I’ve been encouraged as I read the Old Testament, finding that those two ideas couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil, and oppression.” -Deuteronomy 26:7
One of the themes in the Old Testament, in the whole Bible really, is that God hears when His children cry out to Him. He hears our questions and pleas and concerns and even our complaints. He’s ready with a listening ear when we thank Him and honor Him, but also when we ask Him for the desires of our hearts… even if the answer He gives is a “not yet” or a flat out “no.”
He listens to us because He cares for us. And not in a way that only shows up when it’s convenient… He never says no to the deep desires in our heart simply because He doesn’t feel like putting in the effort to make them happen. His love is never lazy, rather He loves us in a way that shows up for us, literally leaving heaven to live among us and sacrificing His very life on a cross to offer us the greatest gift of relationship with Him and giving us access to the forgiveness, freedom, and purity our souls were made for. His love for us has never been distant or disinclined to us or unaware of the hurts of our world. His love for us is radical and near and deeply concerned with our good and His glory. In Ephesians 5 (the Message version), it describes God’s love for us as extravagant, not cautious… and says that He didn’t come to take from us, but to give everything of Himself to us. Which doesn’t mean that He’ll say yes to everything we ever want, but it does mean that we can rest assured that when God says “no,” it’s never because He’s lazy or doesn’t care. Rather, He’s the King almighty that loves us deep, sees the whole picture, and wants what’s best for our eventual good instead of our immediate gratification.
Because though most of my biggest prayers have yet to be answered, Jesus literally plopped a (free) emotional support animal on my lap and the best friend of my dreams right on my doorstep. And these gifts are so special to me… not simply because they’re incredible gifts, but because they point me to the goodness of the Giver: that my God is one who loves me so much as to know the deep needs of my heart and provide for me in a way that speaks (screams, really) to His intimate knowledge of me. Because I love good gifts and all, but the best gifts always point to the Greatest Giver.
So, friends, don’t grow weary in prayer. Press on in your prayers knowing that you’re speaking to a God in heaven who hears your every cry and loves you immeasurably. Press on in thankfulness, knowing that each yes and no is given with our eternity in mind, because our dependence on Jesus and hope set on Him alone are really all that matter anyways. And press on with eyes to see the immense care and affection that comes with each yes, no matter how small, letting our answered prayers fuel our faith in Jesus and point us to the deep love that gives purpose to every no we will ever receive.
All my love,