Dear St. Martin of Tours Parishioners,
Last weekend, I preached on prayer, and how sometimes, after many years of praying and seeking and knocking, God nevertheless seems silent. Worse, there are many of us who have experienced our situations deteriorating and our burdens increasing. The more we pray the worse things get. Why is that?
First of all, there is precedent for such occurrences. Scripture and Church history are filled with examples of things getting worse before getting better:
- Abraham received the promise of descendants more numerous than the stars; yet he endured decades of childlessness until at the old age of one-hundred Isaac was born to Sarah.
- Joseph dreamt he would rule over his brothers and even a great kingdom; yet he was sold into slavery, imprisoned and left forgotten for many years before he was elevated to the position of Pharaoh’s Prime Minister.
- God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants; yet He allowed Israel to endure over 400 years of slavery and 40 more of wandering in the desert before entering the Promised Land. That amounts to 18 generations until the promise was fulfilled.
- The early Church was left to suffer under harsh persecutions and martyrdoms from the year AD 33 until Constantine lifted the ban on Christianity in 312 AD and the Catholic religion triumphed over Rome.
- Tens of millions of Christians who prayed for liberation were tortured and left to die in death camps under many tyrannical regimes: Nazi Germany, Stalin and Khrushchev’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and many other places. Some places have since been liberated, yet at an incalculable cost. An entire generation of young men were sacrificed during World War I at the altar of liberal idealism.
Injustices continue around the globe to this very day. We are still waiting for justice.
Why pray fervently for months and years? Must we wait our entire lifetimes for answered prayer? Must we wait until after we die? Does God really loves us? Is God trustworthy? And why is it that those who are evil or who do not take prayer seriously so often appear to prosper?
Next week, I shall address the invisible yet very real dimension behind this delay in answered pray. There is indeed hope in this darkness. Yet it is a hope that requires, as we shall see, tremendous sacrifice.