When I Can’t Hear

I said yes to Jesus when I was twelve, and for the next fifty years stumbled along the Christian path. The first three decades during my morning devotions I first praised God, then asked help for my needs, and closed with thanks. The last two decades, devotions absent, I groaned my way through the day: “Why won’t You answer me?”

God is omnipotent (all-able) and omniscient (all-knowing). His job is Eternal Father, strong to save, as the Navy hymn declares. Jesus reaches down and the Holy Spirit whispers, “I’m here.” I usually don’t see how He helps until after I’ve gone through it.

My job is to listen and cling to the rock with my fingertips, if necessary, as the storm lashes me over and over; to listen harder when I pray, “Lord, bless me, even when I won’t give up the one thing I must.”

I didn’t discover Barbara Brown Taylor until last month, although she wrote An Altar in the World in 2009. I’m only nine years late. But not really. The Lord meets us right on time. For me, last month. For my friend, yesterday, when she said through her tears, “Why can’t I hear Him?”

I told her what Barbara said about how faith looks sometimes. It is a “blunt refusal to stop speaking into the divine silence.” We trust even when we can’t hear, and not hearing is not an accident. This is when we walk through something necessary, a lesson to learn.

Taylor also wrote in Leaving Church: “When everything you count on for protection has failed, the Divine Presence does not fail. The hands are still there – not promising to rescue, not promising to intervene – promising only to hold you no matter how far you fall.”

And so He holds us when He’s silent. And in our groanings, we pray the same as Lucy when she whispered, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” (C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)