Do you ever feel like God isn’t listening to you? Maybe you’ve been praying for something to change, and it just isn’t happening. It can be so frustrating when it feels like our prayers are going unanswered; as if they’re just bouncing back from the ceiling. I imagine this is exactly how the Hebrews felt before Jesus entered the scene. They were God’s people, and they hadn’t heard directly from Him in 400 years. In the meantime, they had been conquered by the Romans, which left them in challenging and desperate circumstances. Even so, they held onto the promise of a Messiah:
“For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulders, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
Throughout their history, God had sent men and women of faith to deliver the Hebrews from captivity, bring them home from exile, and to provide them land to call their own. It’s only natural that they were expecting a Messiah to come deliver them from Roman rule. I mean, that’s what I’d be praying for! I’m no historian, but from what I do know, living as a conquered people in the Roman Empire does not sound like fun; give me a Mighty God to overthrow the Roman government and a Prince of Peace to usher in safety and prosperity.
When we allow Jesus to work in our hearts, we receive His peace that overwhelms every circumstance.
But God knew the bigger picture. He knew that the circumstances, though dire, were not the biggest threat to His people. The biggest threat to their safety was their own brokenness. So instead of a mighty warrior to overthrow Rome, God sent His son as a sacrificial lamb. Jesus, though He lived a perfect life, took on the punishment of our sin through death on a cross. He then rose from the dead three days later, conquering death!
Instead of conquering the circumstantial, Jesus conquers the ETERNAL.
Jesus closed the gap between us and God, meaning we can have an intimate, personal relationship with Him. What incredible grace we have been given that we have full access to this Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace!
This gift of grace is far greater than what the Hebrews were expecting and similarly, the redeeming love of Jesus is greater than any circumstantial change we could ever ask for. But does that mean we shouldn’t ask for our world to change? No way! In fact, we are called to pray for the desires of our heart. This is why Paul writes,
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:5-7
God always answers prayer, but just like in the case of the Messiah, it isn’t always in the manner in which we anticipate. We often expect a complete removal of our trials and suffering, when what we should be expecting is a transformation of our hearts and minds. We can be so focused on our circumstances that we lose sight of how God is working to make us new. When we allow Jesus to work in our hearts, we receive His peace that overwhelms every circumstance. We can have that peace because of one simple fact, “The Lord is at hand.” Immanuel; God is with us!