Have you ever been in a situation where you were pouring your heart out to someone and then noticed they weren’t listening? I’ve learned from experience that it’s pretty hurtful and rude. I’ve been accused of not listening on more than one occasion. I even went to a training once to teach me how to be an active listener. They taught me that I need to make eye contact, lean in to the conversation, nod my head and make some noises to suggest that I agree. It turns out that it takes a lot of work to listen.
What I’ve found out is that when people think you’re not listening to them, they quit telling you things. They quit having deep discussions, and sometimes they quit talking to you all together. Imagine if you had those feelings toward God. There are times where we are in a deep struggle, and we’re pouring out our heart to Him, but it feels like He’s not listening. Our prayers seem to fall flat and never get past the ceiling. It happens to all of us.
David was one who constantly cried out to God for help and told Him everything on his mind. In Psalm 116:2 he reminds us, “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (NLT) He found out that God is an active listener who leans into our prayers to listen. He gives us His undivided attention when we cry out to Him. We no longer have to worry that He isn’t listening or doesn’t hear us.
When you pour out your heart to God, He’s actively listening to you. He doesn’t get distracted or zone out. Even if it doesn’t feel your prayers are going past the ceiling, God is there in the room with you. As the Psalmist wrote, He bends down to hear you. He leans into the space where you are so you can feel His presence and know He’s there hearing every word. Where man fails to pay attention, God never does. You can pray as long as you have breath knowing that God hears every word and intent of the heart.
I once knew someone who had an interesting answer for the question, “How are you?” No matter what was going on, after he told you, he would say, “But God is still on His throne.” He could have lost his job, he could have been sick, or was going through a bad time in his life. No matter what it was, he would always add, “But God is still on a His throne,” to the sentence. It was always a peculiar answer to me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to understand it more.
For him, it was about keeping things in perspective. He could wallow in the negative things happening in his life or he could admit they were happening, and then remind himself and others that God was still in control. He knew that God was aware of what was happening in His life, and that phrase would encourage himself and others when he said it. I’m begging to think he picked it up from King David.
In Psalm 102, David is talking about all the things happening to him. For 11 verses he speaks of wasting away, pain in his body, insomnia, being taunted by others, uncontrollable crying, and being depressed. He speaks of all the things going wrong in his life, then he changes his tune in verse 12. He says, “Yet you, God, are sovereign till, always and ever sovereign” (MSG). He was saying, “But you God are still on your throne.”
It’s a good practice to get into especially if you’re going through a difficult time right now. If things aren’t adding up in your life or happening as quickly as you’d like, remind yourself that God is still on His throne. All is not lost. He is working things out for your good. He will give you the strength to endure as he develops character in you. Nothing has the power to completely overtake you as long as He is on His throne.
When my brothers and I were younger, there were times when we rough housed. One time, I broke something valuable, but my mom thought it was my brother who broke it. Without questioning anyone, she whipped him. I felt bad, but at the same time, I didn’t want to get whipped. My guilt began to eat at me. Finally, I confessed because the feeling if guilt was too much. I took an extra whipping for letting my brother take the punishment, but at least my feelings of guilt were gone.
Feeling guilty can be very powerful and affect so many areas of our life. Either we confess and deal with the consequences or it eats us up inside. It can consume our thoughts and affect how we live. I like to watch “The First 48”, which is a reality show that follows the police in the first 48 hour of a murder investigation. When they capture the person, they often tell them, “If you’ll confess, you’ll feel better.” Many of them do confess with tears running down their face. They still have to face their consequences, but there’s a release in that moment.
Becoming a Christian is a lot like that. We confess our sins to God and He releases us from the eternal consequences of our guilt. We usually have to face earthly consequences for our actions, but our eternal guilt is gone. Those feelings of guilt fade away because we’ve been forgiven when we confess. God removed our guilt and says, “Your eternal penalty was paid for by my Son. He paid the price for your actions.”
In Psalm 32:1-2, David wrote, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (NLT) God values our honesty with Him and through our honest confessions, forgiveness is given. David understood the joy of being released from the guilt of sin. He understood that God values our honesty with Him. He knows we’ve messed up. He knows we’re guilty. He loves us enough that He’s prepaid for our guilt and is waiting for us to admit it. Don’t carry your guilt anymore. Confess it to God and find that joy you’re missing.