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What Does God Say When People Pray? (part 8)

Luke 18:7 

 

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 

Romans 8:28 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

The impact of reading these two verses confirms the spirit of optimism within me. In Romans 8:28, Paul promises that everything will work out in the end-that those called according to God's purposes will experience God working things out in their lives. Yet, it doesn't promise when He will intervene.

In Luke 18:7, the scripture promises that God will hear and answer the prayers of His elect; He hears our cries. But it doesn't say when He will respond.

Every Christmas, Susan insists that we sit down together and watch "It's a Wonderful Life." The moral of that movie coincides with the optimism of these Scriptures. "What we do really does make a difference in people's lives." But it also illustrates an implication of this Scripture, we may never know the impact our life has had on others. 

By a twist of fate, or the providence of God, depending on your perspective, Roman Turski learned the impact of a good deed.

The war seemed imminent after Hitler annexed Austria, so "Roman Turski" quit his job as a flight instructor in France to go back to Poland, his homeland. On the flight home, his plane developed engine trouble so he landed in Vienna to have it repaired.

The next morning, just as Turski left the hotel to shop for souvenirs, a Jewish man ran past the door and crashed into Turski. His face was white as a ghost, and all Turski could hear him say above his panting was "Gestapo-Gestapo!"

When Turski was a boy, he had participated in some anti-Semitic activities, like throwing stones through the store windows owned by Jews, but this time, he did the right thing. He ran with the man back to his hotel room and hid him under the bed. He took off his coat, messed up his hair and sat up in bed like he'd just woke up. When the Gestapo burst through his door, he spoke the only German he knew and said, "I don't understand it." 

When the Gestapo left his room, Turski helped the man up from beneath his bed and pointed to Warsaw on his flying chart. Using hand gestures, he asked the man, "Do you want to go to Warsaw?" He drew prison bars to indicate that the man would be arrested if he landed at any airport and made it clear that they would have to land in an open field. The man's narrow face and dark brown eyes showed great appreciation at the offer.

They evaded customs at the airport and took off toward freedom. Turski sat the plane down in an open field, just across the Polish border. As he said goodbye to the stranger, Turski gave him most of the money he had on him and showed him where he was on the map.

Turski took off again, leaving his "Jewish friend" behind. When he arrived at the airport, the immigration police met him with a warrant to search his plane for an illegal immigrant. Turski, of course, cooperated fully.

When the war started, Turski flew fighter planes for Poland. When Germany crushed them, he went with thousands of his countrymen into Rumania where he was captured and put into a concentration camp. After he escaped, he flew for the French Air Force and when they collapsed, he joined England's forces. While flying for England, his plane went down.

The chief surgeon of the hospital thought he was a hopeless case, but a surgeon from out of town volunteered to operate. The brain surgeon read a news item in the newspaper about a Polish hero, Roman Turski, shooting down five planes before crashing himself. The newspaper said his condition was hopeless. The surgeon asked the Royal Air Force at Edinburgh to fly him there to try to save the war hero. They agreed and the hospital allowed him to operate.

Why would he go to all that trouble? A few years before, the surgeon with a long narrow face and brown eyes was running from the Gestapo when a Polish pilot rescued him-a man named Roman Turski. 

Turski would live to received decorations from four different governments for his heroism. And to thank the man whose life he saved, that later saved his life.

-Fresh Illustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html

But not everyone lives to see the results of their good deeds. Take Ruth for instance. After Naomi lost her husband and her two sons, she urged her daughter-in-laws to go find themselves another husband and forget about any obligations they felt towards her. One of them took Naomi's advise, another one didn't. Here's Ruth's reply: "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16)

Ruth traveled with Naomi back to Naomi's homeland and gleaned grain from the fields to support herself and her mother-in-law. When Boaz, the owner of the field noticed Ruth, he asked her to stay in his field and work right behind his hired hands. He invited her to drink from his wells and warned the men under his charge to leave her alone. 

Instead of feeling entitled to Boaz's kind treatment, "Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. 'Why are you being so kind to me?' she asked. 'I am only a foreigner.' 

[11] 'Yes, I know,' Boaz replied. 'But I also know about the love and kindness you have shown your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. [12] May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.'" (Ruth 2:10-12 NLT)

The kindness Ruth showed, boomeranged back to her, just like it had with Roman Turski. In her attempt to save her Mother-in-law's life, she saved her own.

But there's more. Naomi discovered that Boaz was a relative, and under their laws, the near-kinsman was to take the place of a dead husband and fulfill the family's responsibility to the widow. Naomi instructed Ruth to go to Boaz's threshing floor and ask him to redeem her.

Boaz was flattered by the proposal, and was willing to become her husband, but because he was an honorable man, he told Ruth that there was a relative that was closer and had the right to redeem her first. Boaz gave her some grain to take home to Naomi and promised to fulfill the obligation of the kinsman-redeemer if the other relative refused to.

Boaz met the other relative at the city gate with 10 elders from the city. He told him about Naomi's land and Ruth, and asked him if he wanted to redeem her. After some reflection, the relative told Boaz to redeem her himself; he passed on his rights. 

Boaz was true to his word. Ruth went from being a nomadic beggar to becoming a part of the family. And God blessed her with a son.

And here's where the story gets good.

Ruth died, knowing that God was faithful to her and that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." What she never knew, though, was the extent of God's blessing. She didn't know the name of her great grandson-King David. Neither would she know, this side of heaven, that one of her descendants would be the Savior of the World!

She knew God's grace through Boaz as her kinsman-redeemer, but would not know that the results of that union would produce a kin that would be the Redeemer of the world.

Our text says, "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?" Luke 18:7 From it we learn that God will answer our prayers, but it doesn't tell us when, or if we will ever know the full results of those prayers.

What does God say when people pray? Sometimes, he says "yes," even if we never know He did.

Are you willing to do the most unselfish thing you can do? Like Roman Turski who risked his life for a stranger, or Ruth who devoted her life to her Mother-in-law, will you give yourself to the ministry of prayer? Will you remain faithful, even if you never see the results of your work? 

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