We pray, we pray and then we pray some more. So often at the center of our prayer lies our tearful cry for relief from the torment of what is in its essence merely the human condition. Health in the face of a terrifying physical ailment. Understanding, contentment, and a sense of significance, purpose, and meaning in the face of the ambiguity in which we are immersed every day. Most of us would be satisfied with just a word-one audible word-from God.

          Yet what we hear instead is the deafening silence.

          We know God hears our prayers, the Bible says so. The eternal question is, “If He hears them, why won’t He answer them?” The standard answer is, “He does answer them. He just doesn’t answer them in the way in which we want them answered!” True enough; however, in our frustration we sometimes draw different conclusions. The deafening silence causes us to lapse into angry despair, disobedient self-indulgence, and faithless fear.

          But the oft-quoted, standard answer deserves a second hearing. Our frustration concludes that it is trite and meaningless; our faith needs to reconsider that position. Is God really silent? Has He not entered the theater of human activity in a glorious manner? Has He not absorbed the very worst that the human condition has to offer? Has He not overcome every aspect of our condition in triumphant victory? Has He not promised us the final victory if we will but be faithful?

          Do His promises mean nothing if not repeated-loudly and clearly-into our ears every time we make the selfish demand that He respond “properly” to our particular hurts? Is it so unreasonable that He ask us to trust Him at His Word?

          Jesus didn’t think so. That’s why He obeyed His Father in spite of the deafening silence. And through His suffering He learned the true value of obeying Yahweh, His Father. Pressed into the muck and the mire of the human condition, Jesus never forgot what it meant to be a child of God.

          How about us? How are we coping with the deafening silence?