Oct 27, 2011

Reflection on Romans 8:39: A Really “Us-sy” Sort of Thing. Lots of Us-ness.

Romans 8:39 ... “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”

Face it: God’s love for us is irrational. We have always had and always will have His love. We don’t deserve it. Nobody does. That’s what’s so irrational about it. He loves us because He loves us. It has never not been the case nor will it ever stop from being the case. And don’t worry about anything ever separating us from the love of God. Nothing inside us or outside of us has the power to remove God’s love from us. We don’t even have to love Him and He’ll love us. Of course, that’s how it was for all of us when He saved us. Though the world may crumble around us or on top of us, God’s love for us is unchanging. If Jesus didn’t abandon us when all Hell was coming down upon him, then why would he now? God’s always known about our brokenness. He knows it more than we do and He knows how broken we’ll be tomorrow as well as twenty years from now. And, yet, He still chooses to love us. How irrational. Yeah us and thank God!

Oct 26, 2011

Just a Story I Wrote Early This Morning for Some Reason or Other ...

Imagine for a moment being alive back when Jesus was preaching through the streets of Jerusalem.  He's healing people and setting captives free right in front of you. And you, the good Jew that you are, have been waiting for the Messiah ever since you could remember. Suddenly, you see him.  There he is! The Christ! The Messiah! Rushing toward him, you throw yourself at his feet and worship. He, being the loving Savior that he is, bends down and places his hand on your shoulder, assuring you that your sins are forgiven.  With tears of joy you begin shouting out praises to him. All in all, it's looking like a banner day in your life. 

A few days later, tragedy strikes your home. Your only child, your son Abram, came down with a high fever. The local doctor warned that it was most severe and may lead to death. Your heart sinks. But then, you begin to remember that Jesus was nearby. Perhaps, he would help. 

Two days later, you finally find Jesus and push through the crowd to talk with him. Since you have been hearing and seeing all of the miraculous wonders and blessings he has been bestowing onto all who ask, you reach out to him, on your knees, and beg him, if he would be so inclined, to heal your dying son. 

Jesus, with eyes filled with compassion, says to you that your son will not die. Overjoyed, thankful, and filled with a burning faith, you thank him and rush home to see your son. However, as you approach the house you can hear wails of anguish and tears of sadness coming from your tiny home. To your disbelief, Abram has died. You throw yourself upon your son’s body and weep. 

Confused, angry, and full of pain, you rush out to find Jesus. However, when you do discover him, it is impossible to talk with him because of the size of the crowd. You desperately want to shout out to him that he must have forgotten to heal your child, but there is just too much drama going on between him and the local Pharisees.  Tears of frustration stream down your cheeks. What happened? What went wrong?

A woman, who you've seen near the Messiah, walks up to you and asks if you are OK. You explain yourself to her and she smiles. 

"If the Master said your son will not die, then he will not die," she says. "And I should know. My very own brother, who is very close to the heart of our Master, once became deathly ill. We sent word to Jesus that the one whom he loved was sick, knowing that he would rush back and heal him. However, he sent word back and told us that the sickness would not end in death. Since our Master does not lie we trusted him at his word. But, our brother died anyway. We were so confused and hurt. Four days later the Master finally came to our house. We had already buried my dear brother Lazarus.  I ran out to meet Jesus and told him if he would have been here my brother would not have died."

"What did he say?" you ask.

"He said that my brother would rise again."

"At the resurrection, of course,” you interject.

"That's what I said. But then the Lord told me that he is the Resurrection and the Life and that any who believe in him will not die."

"Amazing," you say. "Then what happened?"

"He told us to remove Lazarus' tomb stone.”

“No way!”

“Yes way!” she says to you with eyes wide open. “And then he called him forth from the tomb and Lazarus came back to life!"

"Impossible," you say as you find yourself jumping up and down. 

"It's true," she says. "In fact, there's my brother Lazarus over there. Go and ask him. He'll tell you what it was like being called out from the land of the dead by the Master."

You stare at the crowd of people and pretend that you know which person she is pointing toward. 

"So you're telling me that because Jesus said my son would not die, but he did, he's going to resurrect him? And not just at the resurrection, but here and now?"

"That's how it worked for me," she said. "Do you believe Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life?"

"Of course I do." 

As you hear the words coming from your mouth you realize that hope and faith have returned to you. Visions of Jesus returning to your house to raise your son from the dead flood your mind and heart. 

After thanking Martha for her kind words, you strive to make eye contact with Jesus. He is engaged in great conversation with the local religious teachers. However, for just a moment, it seemed that he looked out toward you and smiled. With a renewed faith, you return home and encourage your friends and family.  For you know that, any day now, Jesus is going to show up and call your son forward from his grave. Your friends and family, out of compassion for your loss, encourage you and say they are hoping for this miracle as well. 

After four days you begin to worry.  You begin to wonder that, perhaps, the Master doesn't know where you live. You decide to head out and find him. 

Walking out the door, you are quickly greeted by a troubled neighbor. He tells you that Jesus had been arrested. You feel an odd relief realizing that his arrest explains his delay in coming to your house. Yet, panic and fear begin to ebb away at your remaining hope. 

"Well, I pray they release him soon," you say, "for my boy's sake."

Your neighbor gives you a wry smile and patronizingly pats you on your back.

The next day you find yourself in the throes of one of the most dramatic days in Jerusalem that you have ever experienced. There is a demand for Jesus to be crucified. More confusion fills your heart. You know he cannot die for he promised to heal your son. Plus, he's the Messiah. What is going on? 

The next day you watch your hope die as you see Jesus the Messiah crucified. You prayed for God to intervene, to stop the madness of crucifying the Master. How could God allow this to happen? During your humble laments toward God you beg him to save Jesus for his sake, the sake of others, and to fulfill his promise of raising your son back from the dead. 

An earthquake rattles you off your feet. 

Sitting there, angry, hurt, and sad, you see a friend of yours who you haven't talked with in some time walk over toward you. You begin to catch up on all that has happened since last you saw each other. He cries at the news about the death of your son and shakes his head trying to come to grips with the reality of all that was going on.

As the two of you sit on the ground among the large crowd that had gathered to witness the crucifixion, he begins to tell you about his life since last you’ve met. He had become one of John the Baptizer's disciples and followed him up to the time of his beheading. 

"It crushed me," he said. "How could Jesus allow John, who did everything he was supposed to, who was righteous and holy, to die?"

"I heard they were cousins," you say.

"Yeah. You know, John told us to start following Jesus. He said that he was the Messiah. The One he had been preparing the way for. But then John got arrested. At first, we thought it would not last. Herod would even have John come and preach to him and his guests. And Jesus was rising in popularity and doing miracles and teaching. So we knew Jesus would either rescue him or Herod would let him go."

"What do you think went wrong?" you ask.

"I dunno. But one thing happened that truly troubled me. I visited John from time to time in prison. One day he asked me, and a couple other brothers, to go to Jesus and ask if he truly was the Messiah."

"What?" you ask. "John's the one who told everybody that Jesus is the Messiah. Plus, think about all the miracles he performed!"

"I know. I didn't know what to tell John or Jesus. John was pretty worn down in prison. He was tired and losing faith. He couldn't see what was going on behind his prison's walls."

"So what did you do?"

"Well, I went and told Jesus what John said."

"That must have been awkward. What did Jesus say?"

"He said that no one who’s ever been born is as great as John. He told us that he is the Elijah who was to come. And then he told me to tell John that the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the Good News is preached to the poor."

"The dead raised?" you say. "Jesus promised me that my son would not die. And he did. But now, Jesus is dying on that cross. What is going on? Jesus wouldn't lie to me. Would he? Why is God allowing all of this to happen? Did Jesus forget about my boy? Did Jesus intend to help but didn't know this was going to happen to him? Why won't God step in and fix all of this?"

"If it helps, let me tell you one other thing Jesus told me to tell John."

"What's that?" you ask, feeling the tears return to your eyes.

"He told us to tell John that blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of him."

"On account of Jesus?"


"What's that mean?"

"We came to the conclusion that, especially seeing how John was in prison facing the possibility of death, anyone is blessed who does not allow their situation to hinder them from following and praising God."

"Huh. That's interesting."

"It's also realizing that Jesus is saying he might actually be the one allowing or, as confusing as it sounds, causing the problems to happen in your life."

"That's crazy."

"It's a hard teaching, that's for sure," he says. 

At that moment, Jesus cried out in a loud voice and died.

The two of you head home in silence and grief. All of it was too much to take in. You hug your friend farewell and walk into your home and sit down. In total silence you stare out a small window. You cannot even formulate words to your thoughts. As a great feeling of hopelessness overpowers you, a growing anger begins to rise from within. How could the Lord allow any of this to happen? Has he abandoned you? Is there sin in your life that merited this outcome? Was Jesus just a man? Were you a simple fool to believe in miracles, hope, and God? If Jesus purposely allowed your son to die and, though he said it wouldn't happen, are you going to allow the falseness of Christ to keep you from following God? Or is there something you're forgetting? Maybe Jesus meant that he would, much like Martha said, raise your boy at the resurrection. But why did Jesus die? He did perform miracles. He taught like no one you have ever heard. The love and compassion that flowed out from him literally captivated your soul. You gave him your life. Your trust. Your hope. Your faith. And then you begin to realize that you have been ignoring the simple truth that your son, Abram, was dead. You have been ignoring this reality by trying to find out how Jesus was going to create a miracle in your life. 

You stay up the whole night crying out to God, remembering the life of your son, reflecting on all that has happened, and play your lute in order to find some form of comfort. Oddly, you find yourself singing about the great miracles of God. You sing of how he rescued the Israelites, using the very hands of Moses and Aaron. You cry. You laugh. You yell. And you sing. 

As the morning sun lights up your small home, you head outside to stretch your legs. An entire night of crying has left you parched, swollen, and depressed. You find yourself walking aimlessly around the city. Though the beauty of the morning would normally cause you to stare in wonder, it all looks dark and gloomy through your pained eyes. 

Curiosity or coincidence, you’re not sure which, takes you outside the city gates near Golgotha where Jesus was crucified. There seems to be some commotion. You can see people running each direction and shouting out to others. You discover that the body of Jesus is gone. The large stone placed before his tomb had been rolled away. There were Romans soldiers placed on guard throughout the night to prevent people from robbing his body, but they, crazy as it sounds, all fell asleep. Then you start to hear rumors that someone actually saw Jesus alive. However, you heard that it was a woman who saw him and you quickly put no faith in it being true. 

The one thing that truly fascinates you is how all of the soldiers fell asleep. You have heard stories about how they could be executed for such failure. 

Heading home, you see a group of people around the Ben Josef family's house. Itzak Ben Josef was a family friend who died last year. You haven't been to his family’s house since his funeral. Walking over to see what was the cause of all the ruckus, you realize that they are all hugging a man who greatly resembles Itzak. You introduce yourself to the man saying that you knew Itzak well and assume that he must have been a twin brother or close cousin. Instantly, the man hugs you and kisses you calling you by name and declaring that he is, in fact, Itzak Ben Josef. He has been raised from the dead. You start to laugh and push him gently aside. 

"Nice try," you say. "I admit you look just like him. But, come on."

Others gather around the man and you find yourself out of any conversation with him. Most of the people around Itzak are crying out and praising God. Some do not look convinced. You head home shaking your head. 

When you get to your house there is a group of people gathered around your home as well. You stop in your tracks. They are praising God, laughing, and crying. A man walks up beside you and asks what is going on in your home. 

"I'm not sure. But I think I know."

"That's an odd statement," he says. 

"Yeah. I really don't know what is going on. I feel …  weird."

"Well, don't let me keep you from experiencing any hope that might be rising up in your heart right now. I don't want to hinder you from following whatever the Lord has in store for you."

"Excuse me?" you say, half listening, and not really acknowledging the man. 

"Why don't you go find out what's going on in your house?"

"I think I will," you say to the man as you turn to him. But he is already walking in another direction. 

Gently, you walk toward your home. You listen to each comment made from those gathered around. You can hear your heart beating as you hope that the soon approaching reality of the situation is real. 

Suddenly, you hear one of your neighbors shout that you were home. The news of your arrival caused all of them to exit your house and surround you. 

"What is going on?" you ask, half knowing, half hoping. "Why are you all here?"

They clear a small path for you amidst the crowd. At the end of the path is your boy. He has come home. 

Joy explodes from within you as your squeeze your son and lavish him with kisses and tears. 

“Poppa,” he says, “I was dead. Now I’m not.”

“Apparently,” you say laughing, not quite able to take in the reality of the miracle you are experiencing. 

Then it strikes you. The man you saw on the road caused a strange burning inside you as if you knew who he was but could not bring yourself to acknowledge it. You look back down the street where you believe he went and, for just a brief second, see him looking back toward you and smile. 

“Poppa,” your son says while still being held in your arms.

“Yes?” you say.

“I’m hungry.”

“Well, then, why don’t we get you something to eat?”

Your friends and family gather around your tiny house as you prepare a meal for your son. You received your miracle. The Master kept his word. Unable to contain yourself anymore, you grab your lute and sing, and sing, and sing. Everyone starts dancing around you. It was as if heaven itself was in your home. And, perhaps, it was. 



Oct 25, 2011

Random Thoughts and Stuff

* Everything in us calls out for permanence. Salvation is the only possibility for this to occur.
* It's the natural inclination for humans to destroy the good of organizations, businesses, and churches. This is fueled by the delusional madness of self-centered thoughts, unquestioned elitism, and Pharasaical hierarchies of greed, anger, jealousy, apathy, and impotent forgiveness.
* The greatest spiritual growth program available to any person is simple suffering. Small groups, worship services, and the like, fail in comparison to a person whose faith is being challenged in the desert of trials, temptations, and tribulations. Growth hurts.
* We lead from our heart. If our hearts are not monitored, then how are we to lead fair, honorably, and faithfully? Even though our hearts' true motives are unsearchable, if we are not confiding, as best we can, with counselors, friends, and confidants, then we chance leading from a place of extreme selfishness, fear, and blindness. Keep in mind how the writer of Proverbs puts it: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
* Leaders incapable of reconciliation with others hinder the great joys of life that the Lord wants to bring their way.
* If you are surrounded by people you cannot trust, then, perhaps, you should ask yourself why you live in such a way that you surround yourself with people you cannot trust.
* There are many litmus tests we may administer to ourselves to see how we are living the life God called us to. Here's some I use:
* Have I asked for forgiveness lately?
* Am I living in a loving way toward others where those who do not know the Lord would recognize it?
* What words and names do I find difficult to say during my prayer time? Why?
* What themes keep popping up when I read Scripture, hear a message, or receive some sort of spiritual insight? Am I purposely doing what I can to respond to those words, and promptings, from the Lord? How can I prove that to someone who knows me and doesn't know me?
* Where am I not content? Why?

I've got more to say, but Panera is packing out and I gotta go!

Oct 12, 2011

When God goes out of business just when you need Him

When the Lord tends to disappear in our time of need it is easy to become disheartened. I love finding comfort from reading certain Psalms that deal with this exact predicament. Check out the first part of Psalm 77

I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens. I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord; my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal. When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right," I didn't believe a word they said. I remember God-and shake my head. I bow my head-then wring my hands. I'm awake all night-not a wink of sleep; I can't even say what's bothering me. I go over the days one by one, I ponder the years gone by. I strum my lute all through the night, wondering how to get my life together. Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good? Will he never smile again? Is his love worn threadbare? Has his salvation promise burned out? Has God forgotten his manners? Has he angrily stalked off and left us? "Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business just the moment I need him." (Psalm 77:1-10 MSG)

It brings hope to my being whenever a Psalm resonates with my thoughts and heart. This Psalm from Asaph lifts me out of any funk I may be experiencing, ironically, by knowing that the "absent God" is the same loving God shared throughout the Scripture. God has always been one to allow us to think that He is far from us. But we know that He is never far from any of us. It just feels that way some times.

Here's what this psalmist does next to restore his hope in God.

Once again I'll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished, and give a long, loving look at your acts. (Psalm 77:11, 12 MSG)

By reminding himself of all the great deeds that God has done for His people, Asaph turns from complaining to worship. The simple spiritual discipline of remembering what He has done for us brings us into a sweet communion with the Lord.

After Asaph reflects upon the goodness of God, the psalmist begins to admonish the Lord with shouts of praise. He goes from shouting out to God with concerns ,at the beginning of the Psalm, but ends by shouting out to Him with praise. The interesting thing to remember here is that his problems are not fixed. His prayers are not answered. What is given to Him is the remembrance that His God is listening and has a proven track record of rescuing His children from their troubles.

Here is the remainder of the Psalm:

O God! Your way is holy! No god is great like God! You're the God who makes things happen; you showed everyone what you can do - You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble, rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph. Ocean saw you in action, God, saw you and trembled with fear; Deep Ocean was scared to death. Clouds belched buckets of rain, Sky exploded with thunder, your arrows flashing this way and that. From Whirlwind came your thundering voice, Lightning exposed the world, Earth reeled and rocked. You strode right through Ocean, walked straight through roaring Ocean, but nobody saw you come or go. Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron, You led your people like a flock of sheep. (Psalm 77:13-20 MSG)

Oct 10, 2011

Putting the Super in "Supersessionism"

What the heck is supersessionism you ask? It's kind of like a replacement theology buzzword mainly attributed to Christianity's superseding of Judaism.  Fun, huh? 

Here's another way to describe supersessionism: "Replacement Theology." According to Walter C. Kaiser, a really interesting Old Testament theologian that I had lunch with once and was forever fascinated by his resemblance to 1940's comedian Ed Wynn, “Replacement theology ... declared that the Church, Abraham’s spiritual seed, had replaced national Israel in that it had transcended and fulfilled the terms of the covenant given to Israel, which covenant Israel had lost because of disobedience.”1 If you would imagine, such a definition is not too popular in Israel.  

Many Christians I talk with have no idea what to make of Israel. Is Israel saved? Chosen? Hellbound? Confused? Destined? Should we support them? Are they ever going to become Christians? With so much anti-semitism in the world, supersessionism is something we Christians need to address with delicate care and thoughtfulness. If you are of the Christian faith, how do you explain Israel? Do you see them simply replaced with the New Israel of Christianity? Do you seem them as equally saved in their own personal understanding of faith? Here's one of my favorite theologians on the subject. Good ol' Karl Barth. Read this fun-filled quote: 



"The election of grace as the election of Jesus Christ, is simultaneously the eternal election of the one community of God by the existence of which Jesus Christ is to be attested to the whole world and the whole world summoned to faith in Jesus Christ. This one community of God in its form as Israel has to serve the representation of the divine judgment, in its form as the Church the representation of the divine mercy. In its form as Israel it is determined for hearing, and in its form as the Church for believing the promise sent forth to man. To the one elected community of God is given in the one case its passing, and in the other its coming form."2 

Barth's view blessed Israel by providing Christians a healthier, more positive understanding of Israel's place in the Judeo-Christian worldview.  For Barth, the Jews are the chosen people of God and nothing may alter that truth. They remain as an example of those who reject their own election. He sees their existence functioning as a sign of a people living in disobedience. Christ, as the Elect One of God, whose elect people are the Church--made up of both Jew and Gentile, is the culmination of all human history, as well as Israel's history. Eventually, the first Israel, those who rebel against their election, will accept Christ as Messiah in human history and their destiny will be taken up into the Church, the New and True Israel. Now doesn't that seem easy to understand? I'm pretty sure I don't know what I just wrote. Anyway, ...

In no way does Barth see Israel as being rejected by God for their disobedience. That idea has another fancy term called Punitive Supersessionism. Barth believes Israel to be the very "visible and tangible" (3) evidence to the existence of God. The very fact that they have survived throughout the generations with so many trials and persecutions is a literal miracle. Yet, for Barth, Israel's main role came to an end with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although his view of supersessionism is gentler and kinder than many of his predecessors and contemporaries, it still stings a bit with a negative outlook toward Israel coupled with a slight taste of universalism.

Here's one last thought on the subject from Barth, that I love:

"The new Israel is not (like the old Israel) a “nation,” a natural society . . . but a people gathered solely by the preaching of the Word and the free election and calling of the Spirit. The first Israel, constituted on the basis of physical descent from Abraham, has fulfilled its mission now that the Savior of the world has sprung from it and its Messiah has appeared."4

I may not readily buy into all of Barth's view on the Nation of Israel for I simply struggle with their rejection of Christ. Yet, even as I say that, I know that God's promise still stands regardless of our inability to keep up our end of the covenant. After visiting Israel twice I believe wholeheartedly that they are a peculiar people. As for their place in the Kingdom of God, I think St. Paul said it perfectly: "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew." Romans 11: 1-2 

All of that is to say that God is faithful even when we are not. Any Jewish person can come to a saving faith in Christ. Each person has that opportunity presented to them--whether they are Jewish, French, or even from Trona. 

That's enough Barth for now ... I'm off to play the Battlefield 3 Demo.  


1.  Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., “An Assessment of ‘Replacement Theology’: The Relationship Between the Israel of the Abrahamic–Davidic Covenant and the Christian Church,” Mishkan 21 (1994): 9.

2.  Barth, Church Dogmatics II/2, 195.

3.  Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, trans. G. T. Thompson (London: SCM, 1949), 75.

4. Barth, CD III/2, 584.

Oct 7, 2011

In the Midst of the Midst: the How and Why of It

Today I want to talk about those moments in life when we wonder why God is taking so long to answer our prayers. Those seasons may be sprinkled with doubt, frustration, and anger, but they are definitely saturated with one word. It is a word that causes us to become instantly aware of our lack of faith, limited wisdom, impatience, doubt, fear, and other human frailties. It is a word that we pose as a simple question and is found at the beginning of most complaints to God. 


Why do the wicked prosper? Why is there evil? Why won't you help me? Why won't you heal me? Why won't you heal my child? Why won't you show me the way? Why won't you answer me? Why won't you bring justice to this situation? Etc., etc., etc., 

As people who worship God, read His Word, and proclaim His goodness to a lost and dying world, we know that there are many good answers to bring us comfort and understanding to our predicament. At least, that is what we tell others when they are going through difficulty. When it's us, well ... that's often a different story. 

In our contemplation of difficult seasons there are a few things we know. We know that we are sinners in a sinful world. We know that God is constantly growing us and teaching us to rely upon Him. We know that He disciplines us, equips us, matures us, loves us, died for us, and is with us. We can quote verses and ramble off a grip of key insight found on many T-shirts, bumper stickers, websites, and christian radio stations. Yet, there is one thing that we cannot do, fix, or speed along. And that is God answering our prayer. Of course, if His answer is no, then we just have to accept it and move on. But God moves when God moves. He does so because of His great love for us, despite the fact that it doesn't seem like He's so loving when we're in pain. 

Here's what I've learned to do in order to pass the time when I find myself wondering where God is. 

First off, I remind myself that I'm in the midst of God working in my life. When I'm in the midst, I'm not able to see what is going on and, often times, find myself scrambling to figure it out. 99 times out of 100, God will never tell me why He is doing what it is He is doing or allowing what it is He's allowing. That doesn't stop me from asking why, however. (Just in case he tells me). I strive to keep my communication with Him open, free, unhindered, bold, raw, and honest. I also know that my inability to see Him or hear from Him clearly will put me on edge and make me vulnerable to misinterpreting every little thing as a sign from Him. It can become a bit neurotic and overwhelming. So, to calm down, I do this: I calm down. It's amazing how that tends to work. Anyway, while keeping my communication with Him, my friends, family, and mentors open and ongoing, I remember a great prayer from King David that is significant when we find ourselves in the midst of a difficult time. I just switch the word WHY with the question HOW LONG. 

Here's the Psalm that inspires me in those times: 

Psalm 13. 

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"

and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord's praise,

for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:1-6 NIV)

When in the midst of God answering my prayers, switching from asking why to asking how long, provides a simpler way to hear Him say "not much longer." Then, regardless that it may look like He's not doing much to answer the prayers from my heart, I do my best to praise Him for being such a great God. How odd we people of faith are. We complain and praise at the same time. That's borderline nuts.

Anyway, I do believe God allows our prayers to move Him. But as long as we remember that He will not give us more that we can handle and that He is working all things together, we can find ourselves growing in trust and being spiritually transformed. 

In the midst of it all, we may not have a satisfactory answer for why God is doing what it is He is doing. However, since we are His children, I propose, much like kids in the back of a car on a long and painfully boring trip, we ask God "are we there yet? How much longer? I gotta pee." Hopefully, he'll speed it up and bring the long and difficult trial to an end. Or at least pull over to a rest stop.