We have grown so accustomed to instant messages, instant pictures and instant gratification that we may have come to expect God to provide instant answers to our prayers. When that doesn't happen, or when our suffering grows too great, we may start to wonder if there is a god out there who loves us.
Believing that God loves us
Religious writer C.S. Lewis said, "The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves [us] is only insoluble so long as we attach trivial meaning to the word 'love.' Too often we confuse God's love with human kindness. We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven - a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of the day, a good time was had by all."'
Accepting that God will give us answers to light our path forward
God never promised us that life would be without challenges. That's how we grow. What he has promised us is that he will help us meet those challenges. He has told us that we will always have his spirit to light our path forward, even when it's dark. Sometimes it grows very dark, and we find ourselves in the midst of soul stretching experiences. That is when we exercise our faith in God.
Listening to the still, small voice of personal revelation
We all have a still, small voice inside us. This is the voice of personal revelation. The language of this spirit is the voice of perfect mildness. Sometimes it is just barely perceptible; other times direction comes to us more clearly. The answers the spirit provides are not hidden from our view if we will look and be still. This voice requires listening, not talking, and we cannot hear it over the everyday hustle and bustle.
Julie B. Beck, religious leader, has said, "The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life." Why would she make such a claim? Because learning to listen to the spirit inside each of us allows us to follow and act on God's guidance. It allows us to have faith in the journey when we can't see the destination.
Having the faith to act on unexpected direction
Three years ago, I was praying about the direction of my career and trying to listen to the still, small voice inside. I was given clear direction that was wholly unexpected and made no sense to me at all. I didn't like the answer, and I resisted acting on my impression. I felt the spirit whisper to me that I should offer to give up my job. One of our important clients was going in a new direction, and I could see that I might soon no longer be the right person to do this particular job.
I am divorced and my own sole support. The thought of offering to give up my job seemed ridiculous and irrational. I prayed about it several times and got the same answer. I finally moved forward in faith. My boss was initially as shocked as I was. It took months to play out, and I was nervous the whole time. In the end, I hired my own replacement and received a promotion and a raise. As it turned out, leaders in my company were impressed that I had put the company's needs ahead of my own. I was grateful that I had not relied on my own intellect for direction.
Experiencing the life-giving power of God
I have not always been a believer in personal revelation. In fact, I was not even a believer at all for 15 years. But I have learned once again to listen to the still, small voice inside. I have learned that while we can't control this voice of perfect mildness, we can learn to hear it and follow its promptings. As we do so, we will experience the life-giving power of God.