A Pushy Prayer From People At Wits End

There are a lot of people waxing prophetic about the end of the good old USA, our way of life, the struggling economy – the entire globe, in fact, is (to listen to some) on the road to hell, being carried in a handbasket.

So what do we do in these tough times.

I’ve taken a look at the scriptures.  Are there times in the Bible when things were tough?  Times when people were depressed and fearful about what tomorrow might bring?  If so, what might we learn from the example of God’s people in those kinds of times?

In Isaiah 64 the prophet pens a rather pushy prayer on behalf of a group of people who, having exhausted all possible human alternatives, now give up on polite, respectful and restrained prayers to God.  People who are at the end of their rope, swirling around in the dark despair of life, having lost all hope in conventianal means of change, do not have the luxury of a deistic “Unmoved Mover.” Such folks cannot believe in a God who merely sets the world in motion without continual intervention.    This prayer names a God acts — a God who is involved in the world.  For people who are at the end of their rope, no less a God could hear or help so no less a God is addressed.  The first verse of the sixty-fourth chapter of Isaiah began with these powerful, pushy words from a people who had no where else to turn for hope except towards God.  “O that you would tear open (literally rip apart) the heavens and come down.

This prayer was specifically offered by a people, who, after having returned from excile in Babylon found their national capital is disarray and the temple of their God laying in ruins.  For these people the rubble of the temple signified the defeat of their national hope.  It was as if Israel no longer belong to God — as if they were now like all the other nations and people of the world who were “not called by God’s name” (v. 19).
But this pushy prayer moves beyond a tearful lament by boldly reminding God about his divine deeds of deliverance in the past.  Aha!  Doesn’t this sound like a little bit of faith at work in the midst of  the dark despair of their existence.

“God, remember how you acted in the past!  Remember how you led us out of Egypt?  Remember how you cared for us while we were in the wilderness?  Remember how you stood by us and delivered us despite our sinful rebellion?  Oh God if you will remember how you cared for us in the past, then our prayer is simply this — Do it again!  Do it again! Do it again!”

Dare we exhibit that kind of faith.  Dare we trust in God’s providential  even when our life seems wrought with hopeless despair.  Dare we believe that despite all the iniquity and brokenness in this world that somehow God is still at work, and that we all are but clay in the hands of a skillful potter.  That’s the kind of trustwe need!  It’s easy to believe when all is going well — true faith is possible only when everything is else falling apart and our world is going to hell!  Our hope today, as we cling to the end of our collective rope, is for the appearance of a God who remembers us, even when we forget Him.  Our hope today is for a God who becomes involved in our world reforming us into a people more worthy to be called by his people.

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