While God Was Sleeping: Part One

Last summer Benny and I were out in a small boat on a lake near our home.  It was a gorgeous sunny day with a light breeze.  After some time enjoying the water and Florida wildlife, we noticed some ominous clouds gathering to the south.  We kept our eye on them, hoping they would pass, but they continued moving quickly toward us.  Within minutes our peaceful, sunny outing turned into a mad dash to the shore.  The trip was short but scary, especially when thunder, lightning and pelting rains made us grateful the lake was small.


This experience made Mark 4 a little more accessible to me when I was reading it earlier this week.  I used to wonder why experienced fishermen who were accustomed to lake squalls freaked out over a sudden storm?  Jesus had just left ministry to a large crowd; why couldn’t they remember all the other times a storm had suddenly appeared on the water and then passed, and let their exhausted friend rest? 

But that day on the lake with Benny left me wishing a storm-calmer had been with us.  Believe me, if He had been sleeping I would have been the first to wake him up. Like the guys with Jesus, I may have believed His passivity was a way to say, “My sleep is more important than your safety.  Sorry, but I just don’t care.”

Have you ever felt God slept through your crisis?

  • You’ve prayed for years for God to save your wayward child, only to watch him/her drift even further from the Lord.
  • You saved and saved for a much-needed vacation, only to experience a major issue with your car that sucked up nearly every penny.
  • You watched a loved one suffer and die while begging God to heal.
  • The promotion you worked and prayed so hard for is given to someone with less experience.
  • Year after exhausting year in a hard marriage, and your spouse still refuses to make the necessary efforts to change.
  • Since you were little you looked forward to being a parent, yet month after disappointing month you face the fact: God could heal.  He could give us a baby. He just won’t.

Psalm 121:4 promises that God “neither slumbers nor sleeps.”  So why doesn’t He do something when we desperately need Him?  In my 20’s my dear Uncle Rocky was diagnosed with brain cancer.  He wasn’t a Christian and I was scared.  I begged God to save him and to let him live.  In fact, I had a “hunch” (call it a prophetic impression or whatever you’re comfortable with) that he would be healed.  I remember one especially hard day when I took him to the hospital for a brain scan and he had a violent seizure in the waiting room.  There was nothing I could do – but the thought racing loudly through my head was, “God, DO SOMETHING!”  God seemed distant…perhaps asleep…as my uncle’s body writhed before me. 

Like the disciples, I cried out to God for help, nearly paralyzed with fear, and there was no answer.  I felt confused.  God had the power to help but He didn’t. Then weeks later Uncle Rocky died while God was sleeping.  I was wrong.  God didn’t tell me Uncle Rocky would be healed.  He was gone.  But a miracle did happen – weeks before his death he turned to Christ in saving faith!

What does the devoted Christian do when God sleeps – or it sure feels like He is?  How do we work through the turmoil of the God who delivers, saves, heals, rescues, intervenes and “acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4) seeming to sleep through our suffering or the suffering of those we love?

Hard questions.  No easy answers.  I will pick this up next time and hope you will join me in the journey.