How do we handle it when we are frustrated with God and He isn’t answering our prayers? #273
A happy and blessed Friday to you, dear friends. Today we are going to do something we’ve only done one other time in this podcast – we are going to have ONE focus Bible question for each of our FOUR Bible passages today. That means no time for fancy intros or advertisements for Pepto Bismol, so let’s just jump right in with our primary focus question, which is from Psalms 77: How do we handle it when we are frustrated with God and He isn’t answering our prayers?
This is a very honest question, and the type that some Christians feel like is almost a sin to even ask…they probably haven’t read the Psalms, which are unflinchingly honest and contain doubts, laments and authentic expressions of frustration with God, like our Psalm of the day, Psalm 77. Let’s read it, and ponder our question.
“Will the Lord reject forever
and never again show favor?
8 Has his faithful love ceased forever?
Is his promise at an end for all generations?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
Those are some hard questions to ask, and yet the Bible does not cover up such questions, but meets them head on. I can relate to this, because there have been many times in my life where I felt God was slow in answering my prayers and slow in delivering me from trouble. Does that mean that God was ignoring me, or was being slow to react? Of course not! Just because I feel like I was being neglected does not make it so. As we have discussed many times, sometimes we go through trials for good purposes and sometimes we go through trials for purposes we can’t figure out, but the pattern of the Bible shows us quite clearly that God often does NOT rescue His people immediately, but at the proper time from HIS perspective. Frustrating to us, maybe, but I trust His wisdom and timing. Or, at least – I should! How does the Psalmist get past this place of frustration? The answer is in vss. 3-5
3-5 I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times…I will remember the Lord’s works;
yes, I will remember your ancient wonders.
12 I will reflect on all you have done
and meditate on your actions.
Of this verse, Charles Spurgeon says:
What God did with others of his people in their times of trouble, how he rescued them, the splendour of his power in the ages long since gone,—these are among the things which the psalmist considered. It is well sometimes to live in the past. If the present seems to be like a fire that has gone out, snatch a live coal from the altars of the past, and set the fuel alight again.
C. H. Spurgeon, “The Stronghold,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 44 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1898), 70.
Next let’s go to our 2nd Samuel 21 passage. I know the burning question in your mind: Is somebody going to die violently today in 2nd Samuel? And the answer is, of course they are. In fact, those deaths form the basis for our 2nd Samuel Bible question. Buckle your seat belts, and lower your blast shields, and plug the ears of your little ones, because this passage is rated TV-MA for violence.
Here is our second question: Was David right – morally speaking – to offer up the descendents of Saul to pay for the crimes of Saul against the Gibeonites? I believe the very clear Bible answer is: absolutely not, and I base this on: Ezekiel 18:20-23, which we just read together a few days ago:
20 The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him. 21 “But if the wicked person turns from all the sins he has committed, keeps all my statutes, and does what is just and right, he will certainly live; he will not die. 22 None of the transgressions he has committed will be held against him. He will live because of the righteousness he has practiced. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?
So – should David have caused the grandchildren of Saul to pay for his sins? Not at all – God’s principle, in contrast with ancient near eastern ethics of the time, was that ‘the soul who sins is the one who will die.’ This, of course, brings up an important question: Are all of the things done by biblical heroes in the Bible the right thing to do? Of course not! The Bible is true in all that it affirms, but there is only one sinless person in the Bible, and that is Jesus.
Our next passage is Ezekiel 28…a most fascinating passage. Let’s read it, and I want to ask you a question: this passage begins by talking about the King of Tyre…but is the WHOLE passage about the King of Tyre?
I don’t believe verses 11-18 are about a human – let’s review:
11 The word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, lament for the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord God says:You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every kind of precious stone covered you: carnelian, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and emerald. Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold; they were prepared on the day you were created. 14 You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you.16 Through the abundance of your trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I expelled you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground; I made you a spectacle before kings. 18 You profaned your sanctuaries by the magnitude of your iniquities in your dishonest trade. So I made fire come from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of everyone watching you. 19 All those who know you among the peoples are appalled at you. You have become an object of horror and will never exist again.’”
So much of what is said in those passages couldn’t possible apply to a human. I will admit, however, that vss 18-19 could represent a flaw in my argument…unless they are talking about the future ruin of Satan. That said, IF this passage is about the fall of Satan…what do we learn?
Our final passage is Galatians 1, and I am excited that we are going to be reading Galatians, because I am excited to talk about the gospel! Here is our final question: If somebody powerful – even a supernatural being – teaches a way of salvation that contradicts what the Bible says…should we believe it?! Yeah, I know it is a softball question…but let’s read Galatians 1.
Here is our answer:
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! 9 As we have said before, I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, a curse be on him!
Question for you: Can you think of any religions with different gospels – different good newses – different ways of salvation than what the Bible teaches that were thought to have been initiated by angels?? Because I can – several! and all of them do not follow the biblical pattern of salvation by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone! There are many gospels out there – some of them like Mormonism that are angel-based – which mix good works into the gospel message of salvation by grace through faith NOT by works. As we will find out in the next few chapters of Galatians, adding works to faith is a DANGEROUS theological activity. I’ll close with Ephesians 2:
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast.