Our electronic world allows rapid communication with those we wish to contact. All is well when the individual immediately answers the phone or responds to the electronic message. However, it can be irritating or discouraging when we reach out to someone and the response is silence.
Prayer is our communication with our heavenly Father. Unlike our human contacts, we know He is available 24/7, so we can become discouraged if He is silent when we make contact with Him.
When we speak of God answering our prayers, often what we really mean is that He quickly said “yes” to our petition. One of the most challenging lessons for us to learn is that yes, no, and wait are all responses to our requests. What is your reaction when you earnestly pray that a situation will have a specific outcome and the response from your heavenly Father is no, wait, or even more discouraging, there is seemingly no response? Do you believe that there is no good thing that He will withhold from you if you are walking uprightly (Ps. 84:11) and focus on your responsibility of walking uprightly, or are you like Elijah when he fled from Jezebel to the wilderness, sat under a juniper tree, and wished to die (1 Kings 19:4)? The woman who chooses the response aligned with Psalm 84:11 embraces trust in her heavenly Father, while the one who opts for an Elijah Effect is courting discouragement.
Discouragement, extracted from the Greek word athumeo, means to be disheartened, dispirited, and discouraged. It frequently occurs when there is a discrepancy between expectation and fulfillment. As an emotion, discouragement’s roots are frequently planted in the soil of idealistic expectations such as holding perfectionist standards for yourself and others, embracing impractical outcomes for healing from physical ailments, and anticipating unrealistic benefits from work, leisure time, education, or marriage. The greater the discrepancy between hope and fulfillment, the greater the potential for discouragement.
Elijah emerged from his experience at Mount Carmel a victor (1 Kings 18:18-46). Regrettably, Jezebel did not share his enthusiasm over the victory—in fact, she was very angry (1 Kings 19:1-2)! Instead of surrendering, as Elijah expected, she issued an ultimatum to him, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:3). Elijah’s response is similar to that of many Christians—they observe God perform repeated miracles in their lives—then turbulence occurs and the downward spiral of the Elijah Effect sets in:
- A cycle of fear of others or specific circumstances begins (1 Kings 19:1-2).
- The logical reaction is to run from the circumstance, rather than facing it head-on (1 Kings 19:3).
- Rather than meditating on God’s faithfulness, faulty negative thinking begins (1 Kings 19:4).
- The faulty negative thinking can be fanned by emotional and physical fatigue, which frequently produces discouragement (1 Kings 19:5-9).
- Further faulty negative thinking yields false or unrealistic expectations on how and when God should respond to our requests (1 Kings 19:10).
- The false or unrealistic expectations can lead to the cultivation of self-pity and the assumption that God is not listening to the prayers lifted to His throne (1 Kings 19:14).
An intervention for the downward spiral of the Elijah Effect must be applied for the reversal process to begin—in Elijah’s case, as in ours, the intervention cycle to renew his spirit included:
- Resting and relaxing—too many times when the Elijah Effect begins people increase their activity rather than reducing it (1 Kings 19:5-9).
- Seeking solitude to focus on communion with God through His Word and prayer (1 Kings 19:9-13).
- Realizing that refreshment comes through resuming activity. Resumed activity allows us to focus our vision outward rather than “soaking and souring.” (1 Kings 19:15-18).
- Allowing friends to minister to us (Prov. 17:17). It is well to remember that it is as important to be a friend as well as to find one.
As you consider Elijah’s life, are you a woman who chooses the Elijah Effect or focuses on believing that God is working on your behalf even though He is silent? Remember that godliness with contentment is great gain (Ps. 37:16; 1 Tim. 6:6) while despair plus discouragement equals spiritual disaster! Kelsey’s Korner offers helpful counsel on knowing that your heavenly Father will respond when you contact Him!
My mom is suffering from a serious and rare autoimmune disease called Retroperitoneal Fibrosis. The disease has caused great pain and suffering, and she is no longer able to digest foods or liquids. She loves the Lord and pursues His glory greater than almost anyone I know. Daily hundreds of saints are pleading before the throne of God for my mother—asking Him to have compassion, to touch her and heal her, to ease her suffering. Yet God seems silent. It feels as if our prayers have been lost on their way to heaven—buried among the other transmissions.
Job suffered in agony, likely for months, before the Lord appeared to respond to any of his cries. David also often felt alone, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”(Ps. 13:1). Sarah waited 90 years before the Lord fulfilled her prayers for a child. The experiences of these individuals appear, on the surface, as if God was silent. Our humanness asks the question, “Why does He allow us to continue suffering if we are His beloved children?” Although this is a difficult questions with many valid explanations, two significant responses come to mind:
- God is never truly “silent.” God has given us His Word, which is living and active (Heb. 4:12). He has given us His Spirit, which grants us all we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). If you long to hear from God open His Word and read what He has written for you. James 1:2-4 teaches: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing on your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” God is constantly working on us, using our trials to chip away the old man (2 Cor. 5:17), molding us into the image of His Son, making us complete, lacking in nothing! We have not been promised an end to our trials here on this earth—in fact, we are told to not be surprised when trials come (1 Pet. 4:12)—but we have been promised that NOTHING can separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Neither death nor life, not angels or demons, not things present or things to come….nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:37-39.)
- God allows trials and suffering to happen for a reason. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is infinite—we are finite. God’s plan encompasses all that ever was, is, and will be—with Himself on display! Our plans are often so small that they only include us and those around us. When God chooses to say “yes” to some prayers and “no” or “not yet” to others, we can trust that His answer is complex and beyond our ability to fully comprehend, encompassing far more than just our immediate circumstances. Because He is loving and trustworthy, if “no” is His answer, then it is good, even if that means losing something or someone that we love.
During your times of trial, when disasters are multiplying and your prayers go seemingly unanswered, recall the love of our God. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps. 8:3-4). God loves and cares for us so much that He has not left us without answers or without help! He has also not left us without hope: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18). Someday, the Alpha and the Omega, who knows how many hairs are on your head, will wipe away every tear from your eye. Until then, remember that not one trial happens without His permission, and it is all for your good and His glory (Rom. 8:28).
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
God has said, “Be strong and of good courage: do not be afraid, nor be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “Though at times my heavenly Father is silent I can rest in the understanding that He hears my prayers and always responds.”
Blessings on your day as you focus on making your house a home!