It can be frustrating when God doesn’t appear to be active. We look at the world around us and there seems to be no trace of him. I believe that we can occasionally feel this way because we aren’t looking for him in the right places. We look for the hand writing on the wall and see nothing. Maybe we don’t expect healings and people to rise from the dead, but we wonder when God is going to bring about the next revival or bring a loved one to Christ who has been resistant for so long. I have seen churches full of stale Christians and wondered when they are going to wake up and live as Christ intended. God has the power to do these things and has done them in the past so why does he sit and do nothing?
Christian history shows that the times when God is active in flashy ways are not the norm, they are the exception. There are seasons with water turning to blood and hail and there are season of quiet. Sometimes God does sweep in in a eucatastrophic way, but those are often unexpected times of grace. God does most of his work in the small stuff. It’s often the reason why we miss it. We look for the neon light acts of God and miss the quiet rustling of leaves in the street. Often times it is as small (or as large) as helping us make it through the day in decent shape. Sometimes it is that one conversation during the day which encourages us. Maybe we have an almost infinitesimal breakthrough with someone who has been resistant to the gospel. One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is as teacher and counselor. How many are the moments when a verse or concept that you have learned in the past comes to mind or even a new realization about God? It would be prideful to think that this always is the result of our own natural intelligence. What about creation? When the sun comes out from behind a cloud, there is a beautiful sunset, or a stately tree confronts our view we could be looking at God in action.
In the Screwtape Letters Screwtape describes how to convince a “patient” that a prayer was not answered. If the prayer does not get the desired result one can suggest that God didn’t hear it. If it is answered then it must be suggested to the patient that the result was going to happen anyway and the prayer made no difference. Thereby whatever the result, the prayer is neutralized. From our limited point of view don’t know whether it could have been otherwise, except for God’s intervention. Life is a lot like trying to watch a baseball game through a tiny knot-hole in a fence, we are not aware of the bigger picture. I say this because it may sound like I am ascribing trifles to God. The sun sets every day and therefore it is only probability that there will be beautiful sunsets once in a while. Ignoring the fact that the ability to appreciate beauty is a gift from God, I say we must not assume that such events are inherently random. I would rather risk praising God for things he didn’t do than miss praising him for something he did do. It is only naturalism from the Enlightenment that has crept into Christianity that tells us that God is not active in our daily lives. Just because something happens in a certain way doesn’t mean that God didn’t have a special hand in making it come about. When I picture the supernatural realm and the natural realm in my mind I get the picture of the barrier between the two being perforated with a million holes through with the supernatural is always coruscating with tiny rays.
Now a final word. We live in an era of Christianity when the big acts of God and the church are emphasized. Winning the culture war, bring revival, starting a new movement for Christ are all fervently prayed for. The worst that could happen is for people to stop expecting God do big things and focus only on the small stuff. It is my opinion that in this fast paced life we are more likely to pass right by the little ways in which is God is vibrantly active. I know this doesn’t answer the question I posed at the beginning. I don’t know why he doesn’t always act where we see a need. However, I hope it is clear that he is never inactive.
Don’t feel that praying for “small” stuff is unimportant, it’s the small stuff that fills our lives. As an experiment try praying for little things, then praise God when he answers your prayers. Slow down and be on the lookout for God’s fingerprints in you day, no matter how small they may be.