Deuteronomy 31: 8. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Hebrews 13: 5. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Matthew 26: 11. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
Matthew 25: 37. “Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38. When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39. When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40. “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Can these verses possibly be connected?
I was at a prayer meeting. One of the folks admitted to being overwhelmed by hearing news day after day of suffering and sickness and deprivation around the world.
I spoke up. I suggested maybe we were looking at the wrong thing when we despaired at what seemed like a lack of progress or change in the number of people suffering various needs. Perhaps the needs of others were presented to us so God could see our response. Whatever we did for them, Jesus said we were doing it for him. And he was always going to be with us presenting us with that opportunity. The change to look for was not the elimination of needs in others, but a growth of character and obedience in our own hearts.
It wasn’t that God was being mean to poor people, ignoring their pain. He was giving us chances to show His love and provision, bearing witness to and showing His heart of love for all people on His behalf. When we do not have Jesus directly in front us, we nevertheless have him there indirectly. He watches to see what we’ll do.
One friend in the prayer circle had difficulty at the idea God might be ignoring one person’s suffering because it could benefit someone else at the moment.
On the other hand, why was Jesus feeling that His Father was not hearing His Son’s prayers that night in Gethsemane? Was it because the Father intended a blessing for His lost children, something that would only come through the sacrifice of Jesus? And are there answers to the cries for help by others that go unanswered until I respond?