How well do you think you would communicate with a stranger from a foreign land whose language you did not speak? If you needed to communicate with this person, what kind of effort would it take? No doubt it would require time and a great deal of work on your part to learn the language, the nuance of their vocabulary, and enough about their culture to understand better how they are trying to communicate.
How well do you think you communicate with God?
While Jeremiah is still in prison in chapter 33, God enters and speaks with him again. At this point, God wants to tell his people about the hope and restoration that is in store for them. Though the prophet is locked up in jail with no foreseeable hope of release and the countryside is full of Babylonians waging war against Judah, God has a future and a hope for his people.
When God begins this message to his prophet, he notes something about communicating with him:
“Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (vs. 3)
When God says, “call,” it conveys a deep and serious request. Sometimes this word is used to describe the roars or groans of animals. This is no half-hearted request, but a petition that has its source in my deepest desires and longings. Oftentimes our prayers are a little half-hearted and full of distraction, so it is no wonder that our communication with God may feel the same way. Have I called to God in the way described to the prophet?
Often Scripture will use the vocabulary of physical hunger to describe this kind of call. We all know what it means to crave some kind of food, but do we know what it feels like to crave communion with God? Psalm 63:1 puts it this way:
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
And what results when we call for God in this way? God says, “and I will answer you.” This is an overwhelming promise and I am not sure we know exactly the extent of this kind of gift.
We might be tempted to think this means God will grant us all our requests if we try hard enough to get them, but the evidence of Scripture and life say otherwise. Instead of this being a promise to give us what we want, I believe it is a promise of communication. When we put the effort in to calling to God as described in Jeremiah 33:3, we learn to talk to someone who is not visible, hear someone who doesn’t speak to me in an audible voice, and touch someone who is spirit. In other words, I learn to communicate with God and gain the ability to see, hear, and touch him in ways I do not now understand.
I communicate well with my wife because we have been talking everyday for over twelve years. I may not hear God answering me in large part because I have failed to put the time into communicating with Him.