My little brother David isn’t so little anymore! It shouldn’t surprise me he grew up to be a lawyer. He could always out think me. When we were kids, we lived in a tiny house in Miami, Florida. It didn’t seem tiny until I grew up and realized all five of us humans and one dog were crammed into one thousand square feet.
The best feature of our home was the pool in the backyard. The previous owners custom built it with a tile chess board about a foot under water. It was dotted with sand-filled, waterproof, stout chessmen each standing about 6 inches tall. A few of the pieces had served as the dog’s chew toys, but other than that, it was an excellent playing opportunity, so I learned chess!
My most vivid memories were playing against David. He was almost 10 years younger than I, and he always beat me – or I would just give up before he had a chance to! I approached chess like a relay race, and he approached it like a marathon. He took his time, studied the board, and thought about strategy while his big sister just moved the first piece she touched. I would impatiently tell him to hurry up, but he’d sit there as if he wasn’t listening to me at all. We had fun, and if I quit the game before his strategy unfolded, we would simply toss the pawns in the deep end and dive after them. David was slow to move and would think ahead. I wanted to win, was impulsive, and was all about the next move. He was about the whole board.
God sees the whole board, not just the next move. His knowledge is vast, long, deep, and often invisible to us. We want to measure if He is listening to our prayers by the movement on the board, and often all we get is silence and stillness.
Habakkuk, the eighth of the Minor Prophets, prayed about the unjust behavior of his people:
“How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2a, NASB)
Habakkuk associated long-prayed, unanswered prayers with God simply not listening. When we pray “how long” prayers, we can wonder if God is listening to us too.
I felt that way when blindness met menopause! The result was depression. It lasted far longer than I expected. I remember praying the “how long” prayer. “How long will I be in this low place, with no energy and ability to do life?” When we pray a Habakkuk-like “how long” prayer, it is often followed by an Isaiah-like “oh, that you would” prayer. For me, it was “Oh that you would just heal me, lift me, and pull me out of this pit!”
God told Habakkuk He was going to answer his prayer and that Habakkuk was going to be utterly amazed. Isn’t that just like God! While we are crying out “how long” and “oh, that you would” prayers, wondering if He is even listening, God is already in the process of answering our prayers! We find ourselves impatiently waiting for the next move to indicate God is in the game, when He is actually busy moving His plan along without a single pawn leaving its square.
Jennifer Rothschild appears this Monday and Tuesday on LIFE Today. Adapted from Missing Pieces by Jennifer Rothschild. Copyright ©2012 by Jennifer Rothschild. Published by LifeWay Press. Duplicated and used by permission.