How often do our days go by, and the work of God “on the front stages of life” goes on unnoticed?
I would venture to say if you answered that question honestly, you would concur the rhetoric – your answer would be, “all the time!”
Facebook is a strange social dynamic. (I’m not into Twitter, though I imagine my comments that follow would equally apply). Most of the time, Facebook is a relay of information about the day-to-day happenings of the lives of your friends. And most of the time, I pretty much ignore the majority of what appears on my “Home” page. Even more often, I avoid Facebook during times of worldwide “breaking news”—precisely because I get tired of the repetition of comments.
But today, I have had a very different experience.
When I heard about the flooding in Manila on Monday, I was brought to tears. This was my hometown, albeit it 8 years ago, but nevertheless, the Philippines is still home to me in so many ways. These streets, sidewalks, homes – these people were my daily realities for 9 years of my life! To see the pictures of devastation brought that reality home afresh.
Since then, my heart has been burdened to pray – even though it can feel overwhelming to “know how to pray” in situations like this, where we are so powerless to help, especially being as far away from it as we are, living in the States. I do not know if my prayers have accomplished anything in the lives of the Filipinos, but God has shown me today that they have not be in vain.
How has God led me to pray? That His redemptive purposes would prevail.
Our God is a God of redemption. When He tears down, He intends to build back up. Throughout the Old Testament , you witness this reality: that when God brings calamity, it is with the intention of drawing people back to Himself—whether that be the Israelites, or the surrounding nations. This very principle is outlined quite clearly in Deuteronomy 28: 15ff.
The story of Jonah and the Ninevites immediately comes to mind. Here is this city full of wicked people, and Jonah comes along (finally, and reluctantly, after a redemptive adventure of his own!), and proclaims that unless they repent, calamity will come from the Lord.
The Ninevites proclaim a fast and cry out to God for mercy and forgiveness. And the Lord relented from sending the calamity.
Is not the God we worship the same God of the Old Testament? Granted, there is nowhere in the NT that lays down a law or proclamation that He continues to use this method of drawing people to Himself. Nevertheless, it is a pattern all over the OT, and one I have long been suspicious of when calamity strikes in our 21st century world.
Today, I have witnessed that truth.
Here is the Philippines, suffering from the worst flooding they’ve experienced in 40 years, and now, another Category 5 storm is headed their way. Some could respond, “how unjust, and cruel of God” – a natural response indeed.
And yet, here I am, having prayed for the Philippines, now plugging along at work, and checking my Facebook on a break, and what do I read from a friend I know living in the Philippines right now:
Reposting from Malou: Dear Lord, we fervently pray for your intercession so that our nation(Philippines) will be spared from another threatening typhoon. Our suffering people have not recovered from Ondoy’s wrath. Please prevent Pepeng/Parma from hitting our islands. Save us from further calamaties by embracing our country with your protective grace and merciful blessings.
Is this not the same work of God, drawing people to Himself in the face of calamity?
How incredible to catch this glimpse behind the veil, into the “behind the scenes” purposes of God!
As I realized this, I was struck by my lack of prayer. Prayer is hard! It can so often feel like we’re not getting through, we’re not making any difference—especially when we pray for the things of our world – things so much larger than us, so much greater than we can ever imagine, or believe that God would change.
Yet, what does it mean, then, when Paul encourages us to pray for “more than we could ever ask or imagine?”
Having this window opened to me today has caused me to desire to see more of God at work “behind the scenes”—to not give up praying for things, even when I feel like I’m not getting anywhere, to hold out and wait, knowing that my prayers truly aren’t going unnoticed. And perhaps God will yet again reward me with insight into the truth that He is at work in the world around us.
If we don’t see it most of the time, perhaps we simply need to pray and ask.
Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you. – Jesus