And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. Genesis 16:11 KJV)
This is one of the strangest verses I have ever seen in the bible. On a human level, we cannot hear affliction. We can feel it and other times see it. To hear affliction is unthinkable, at least in my finite mind.
We usually hear about how God saw the afflictions or heard the cries of his people in their afflictions. But we almost never read about him hearing our afflictions. This must be a thing that God alone can do.
Could it be that all our afflictions are wordless prayers that God hears? Could it be that our afflictions are supposed to be louder than our voices lifted up in prayer during times of affliction?
I want to believe that an affliction is a reflection of a need. A need is a wordless prayer that God hears and responds to.
In Genesis 16:11 Haggar is completely overwhelmed by afflictions. It doesn’t say anything about her saying a prayer. It simply says That God heard her affliction and responded with a promise.
In John 4, Jesus had to go through Samaria. I believe he was drown by the need of a very conflicted, afflicted woman. She could not have offered any prayers because she simply didn’t pray. Yet, Jesus was drown to her by her need.
We spend too much time asking God to help us and get us out of our afflictions. But could it be that all our loud prayers are probably not necessary because he already heard our affliction.
Writing the above paragraph was very hard, it almost sounds like a heresy. The reason, I think, is because we are accustomed to the idea of crying out to the Lord. We are conditioned to the custom of asking, seeking and knocking, even though we know he knows what’s on our mind before we even ask.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Just as the Lord loves to hear the cries of the righteous so is he near to the broken hearted and so does he “hear” the afflictions of the righteous and moves on their behalf.
Whatever your afflictions are today, you have a double assurance. He won’t only hear your cries in the middle of your affection; he already heard your wordless prayer and is coming to your rescue.