And the Israelites inquired of the Lord (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, and Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, ministered before it in those days), saying, "Shall we go out once more to battle against our kinfolk the Benjaminites, or shall we desist?" The Lord answered, "Go up, for tomorrow I will give them into your hand." Judges 20: 27-28 NRSV
Before every battle, the Israelites have been inquiring of God which tribe is to go into battle the next day. God answers them and they do as God commands. However, they have been overwhelmingly defeated both times. I think at this point, they are ready to give up. They have wept, they have fasted and they have sought God's guidance. Yet, God has not yet granted them victory.
This makes me think of so many persons who have prayed and prayed over a loved one, seeking guidance and direction, but not having their prayers answered. At what point do you give up? Or do you? If you feel like you have done as God has asked and listened hard in obedience, how do you respond to unanswered prayer? In fact, how do you respond to life's overwhelming obstacles that you are forced to face again and again? This is more than just a question of unanswered prayer or lack of guidance. This is total defeat.
God waits until the Israelites are truly ready to give up before granting victory. Perhaps God wants to make it clear that it is God's doing, not their doing. Perhaps God wants complete dependence on God rather dependence on the odds for victory. Perhaps God is the God of the impossible, the last-minute save and the unbelievable victory.
God, we pour out our hearts to you with so many requests. You don't seem to answer all of them and often it seems like you don't even hear our supplications. Yet, we come again to your throne trusting and waiting for your power and your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Question of the day: What prayer of yours has yet to be answered?
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims