BY GABRIELLA FECHER
“But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
“God, do you hear me?”
The words were whispered as I sat in my car, enveloped in a swathe of darkness that was only broken up by the dim light of the clock on my dashboard. I had just received news that I never expected nor wanted to hear as I was driving home that night. For some reason, my reaction was to just pull over and go numb.
At some point or the other, we’ve all said those words. Maybe they were whispered into the night sky like mine were; maybe they were shouted in desperation. Maybe they were never audibly spoken, taking the form of thoughts that circulated around our own minds. In those moments, we’re craving some assurance that the Triune God— Creator of all, the Good Shepherd, Lion of Judah, Alpha and Omega, Prince of Peace— is there, sharing the space with us, acting as a Father who notices and cares. We want to know that He, in fact, meant it when He said that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), or when He said that we wouldn't be forgotten by Him (Isaiah 44:21), or that His eye is on those who hope in His steadfast love (Psalm 33:18). We want to know that He meant it and that He meant it for us specifically.
The idea that a God of such magnitude would meet with us in the fear, grief, shame, etc. doesn’t make sense. And yet, the Psalmist wrote, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer” (Psalm 66:19). It even says that He “inclined” to hear the prayer (Psalm 40:1), demonstrating not only a willingness to engage with us but a positioning of connection.
It’s significant that He hears. However, it’s just as significant that He also speaks. And, when He does, we have to be ready to hear the answer…because He has one. His answer to that question always reminds us who He is, inviting us to see His hand, hear His Word, and trace His heart. When we effectively hear His answer— an ever-needed reminder of His presence and control in our lives— our response isn’t passive. Interestingly, the word “hear” throughout the Bible is often translated from the Hebrew word, shama (also spelled shema). It appears over a thousand times in Scripture, and always points to an active form of listening. In fact, shama is also translated as “to obey.” The correlation cannot be overlooked. When God speaks, we have to not only believe that He is speaking— and speaking to us specifically— but we also have to do something with what He says. When, for example, the Scripture says that “not one word has failed of all his good promise” (I Kings 8:56), we have to believe that that statement was not an isolated truth for the Israelites; it’s a statement that is just as true for us. And, from there, we have to faithfully apply that truth as a guide, a stronghold, and an encouragement in our daily lives.
The thing about faith is that it can’t be boxed into our comfort zones. It doesn’t come on a silver platter with a nice cup of coffee and a pastry. It’s more like a push into vulnerability, making it impossible to lean on our own understanding. It’s as though the wall that we are leaning against is stripped away from us, and we’re forced (or, rather, welcomed) to change position, orientation, and support. Faith is surrendering the need to see because we know that He is good, true, and faithful to His children. He doesn’t just give us confidence in situations; He is our confidence, promising to equip us (2 Timothy 3:17) and give us rest (Matthew 11:28). His very presence is the epitome of comfort and strength when we can’t even formulate the words beyond the initial question, “God, do you hear me?”
He knows the loneliness you feel in a crowded room, the hurt that hides behind the crevices of the blinding smile you show the world, the fear that is masked by steady calculations and a pretense of control. He knows when you have poured yourself into building a safety net that— in reality— is but a cage that keeps you locked into a narrative or situation that was never intended to be a “forever home.” That night, He knew the news before I did, and He also knew that I would break from it. And what a beautiful thing it is that He knew.
We aren’t able to effectively hide our own brokenness, nor do we need to. The Omniscient God is an Omnipotent One. And, incredibly enough, He’s also an attentive Father who will reassure us that He’s heard every word when He meets us alongside the road in the dark.