Is Anyone Listening?
Does Anyone Care?
There is no getting around the fact that the answers to prayer that Bakht Singh and George Mueller regularly experienced don’t fit the common experience. My daughter Naomi has experienced some tough situations, but, by God’s grace, has kept her feet steady. She travels the globe, working on behalf of the neediest of the world. Whether in the rescue or rehabilitation of women enslaved by the sex-trafficking industry or help for children affected by AIDS — either through the loss of their parents or their own diagnosis of HIV positive — she is in the thick of situations where the need and pain are overwhelming. She often says that perhaps God intended her place to be among the broken people of the world, and in her own personal life she has endured much pain, disappointment, and betrayal. Every now and then I hear her say, “I wish God would answer some of my prayers in a way that would let me know he is even just listening.”
She currently makes her home in a quiet neighborhood on the West Coast of the United States. Recently, after a visit with us in Atlanta, she returned home to be greeted by her energetic Golden Retriever, India, who insists that Naomi first make up for all the lost time with her before anything else is done. Her landlady also came running to welcome Naomi home. So she set her suitcase on the ground just outside her door and got down on the floor, greeting the dog with all the preoccupation of the one-way conversation that a person with an affectionate dog regularly engages in, and also responding to her landlady’s conversation. Finally she turned back to grab her suitcase. Only ten minutes had elapsed from setting it down outside the door and returning to retrieve it, and when she opened the door it was not there. She began to wonder if she had left it in her car, although she was sure she remembered unloading it. But her landlady confirmed that the suitcase had been at the door, which is how she had known that Naomi was back. She searched the periphery of the house in case it had been moved, but there was no sign of either the suitcase or its contents. I was ten thousand miles away when she called home, quite upset. Some of her favorite things were in the suitcase, as well as a few new things she had bought while she was away. She reported the loss to the police, and after two days when it still hadn’t been located, they didn’t give her much hope that she would ever see it, or anything in it, again.
I wrote to her, encouraging her not to lose hope. This was a small thing for God, and we continued to earnestly pray that he would restore it to her. Her prayer was, “I know it isn’t important in the grand scheme of things. It’s just a suitcase. But there are things in it that are important to me. I’ve experienced so much of the pain of life and seem to have known so few answers to my prayers — couldn’t you bring my suitcase back? It would mean so much to me to know that you are there and that you are listening.”
The fourth morning after its disappearance, she got up and checked outside the door as she had for the last three mornings — only to find nothing. She spent the morning working, frequently asking the Lord for the return of her suitcase. At noon she again checked outside the door, finding nothing. In the early afternoon she went out to run an errand, and when she came back there was still no suitcase in front of her door. A few minutes later, she went to the door, and sitting in the exact spot where she had left it three days earlier was her suitcase! She couldn’t believe her eyes. In great excitement she opened it up and found everything there. Not a single thing had been taken.
Now mystified but filled with gratitude to the Lord, she called me. “Dad! Dad, you won’t believe this! My suitcase is back, and nothing has been taken! ” Later that day, she wrote to me and said, “You know, it’s a small thing, but I needed that little small thing from God right now. I needed that little gesture just to know that he cares when I’m a little down.”
Someone once humorously quipped that if you really want your spouse to hang on to every word you say — to listen with rapt attention and remember every word — just talk in your sleep. Someone else told a story about a bishop who knelt before the altar and began praying, “Dear Lord….” And a voice came from heaven asking, “What is it?” They had to pick the bishop off the floor, as he had fainted. The reason these stories strike us as funny is that it is so important to us that someone care enough about us and love us enough to listen to what we say, to care about what we think. And when we pray, when we pour out our hearts and make ourselves vulnerable before God, we sometimes cannot help but wonder — even a little bit — if there really is anyone listening.
—excerpted from Has Christianity Failed You? by Ravi Zacharias @copyright 2010