It’s generally easier for me to pray for “little answerables”* than to pray for miracles. I don’t like this about myself, but it’s true.
Recently God challenged me about this. I am part of a community of believers who regularly ask God to do Big Things. They ask Him for a lot more than traveling mercies, healing from colds, and help for loving difficult people. And Scripture tells me that God is a God of Big Things. But I’ve only witnessed a few of these in my experience, so I suppose that makes me timid.
Many of the miracles I hear about either happen in places far away or times long ago. Though that probably shouldn’t raise doubts for me, it does. So I think you’ll understand why, while reading in Judges recently, a familiar story hit me in a powerful new way.
The people of Israel had disobeyed God—nothing new there. So He allowed them to be oppressed by the Midianites for seven years. Nothing new there, either.
When it got really bad, God’s people cried to Him for help. He sent a prophet to explain why they were suffering like this: God had told them not to worship false gods—but they did not listen to Him.
Nevertheless, God decided to show mercy. One day the Lord told Gideon He would deliver Israel from the Midianites. But Gideon had a hard time believing.
“If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’” (Judges 6:13, emphasis added).
I stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn’t read a word further. Gideon didn’t know the end of the story, but I did. I knew that God would do great miracles through Gideon, several times over. God was indeed about to deliver Israel from their enemies. How could Gideon doubt? I wanted to enter the story and scold him for his lack of faith.
That’s when I realized I am Gideon.
I look at the wonders that other people tell me about and assume that was then and now is now. Or that was there and here is here.
As I pondered Gideon’s lack of faith—and mine—I realized that the Bible describes other periods when God did not act or speak for a space of years (e.g. Psalm 44:1-9, 74:9; 1 Samuel 3:1).Then, as now, there were long seasons when God didn’t seem to be doing Big Things. (Often, incidentally, that was because His people had turned away from Him, but that’s another subject for another day.)
However, just when people were about to despair of all hope, God would show up. He would deliver, heal, revive, restore. He would do Big Things—even bigger than anyone imagined or asked for (see Ephesians 3:20).
That gives me hope. The fact that I haven’t seen Him do any Big Things in quite a while does not in any way shorten His hand or diminish His power. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
So, when I doubt, I want to remember Gideon. “Where are all the wonders?” They are coming! God is still on His throne. His arm is not too short to save or His ear to weak to hear (Isaiah 59:1).
“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him” (Isaiah 8:17).
*I borrowed this term from Jon Graf (http://www.harvestprayer.com/resources/articles/personal/pray-like-paul)