And the Angel of the Lord said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has heard your affliction.” (Genesis 16:11, N.K.J.V.)
I chose Genesis 16:11 as a text for this post because that verse is the Bible’s first case of God hearing a cry for help. Surely God had heard such cries before Hagar lifted her voice to Him, but Genesis 16:11 gives us the Bible’s first specific mention of such a thing happening. Of course, it is far from the last mention.
For example, Exodus 3:7 says that God heard the cry of the Israelites while their Egyptian taskmasters were treating them cruelly. Nehemiah 9:9 says that God heard the cry of the Israelites when Pharaoh’s army had them pinned down on the shores of the Red Sea. Job 34:28 says that God hears the cry of the afflicted. Psalm 72:12 even makes the promise:
For He will deliver the needy when he cries, The poor also, and him who has no helper. (N.K.J.V.)
Notice that Psalm 72:12 promises that the needy will be delivered, not just that God will hear their cries. This is an important distinction to make because, let’s face it, God merely hearing a person’s cries doesn’t help much if He doesn’t do anything to address the person’s need. We want God to be omnipotent, not just compassionate.
I should also point out that there is a difference between calling out to God and crying out to Him. Crying is more intense than calling. We can (and should) call out to God every day, but we ought to reserve our crying out to Him for those times when our backs are truly up against the wall. Every parent knows the difference between a child’s call and a child’s cry. Crying comes from pain, either external or internal. That’s why a parent moves faster when a child is actually crying. God, being the Christian’s heavenly Father, acts the same way.
Perhaps you are right now experiencing some genuine pain, either external or internal. Perhaps you have a need that you just can’t meet. Perhaps you have, to quote the closing words of Psalm 72:12, “no helper.” What should you do? You should let God hear your cries. I’m talking about you flooding the throne room of heaven with the sound of you crying out for God to help you with your problem.
You say, “Oh, I don’t have to do that. God already knows all about my problem.” Yes, He does, but that doesn’t change what the Bible teaches about the value of you crying out to Him in your time of trouble. Again I go back to the illustration of the parent hearing a child’s cries as opposed to hearing a child’s calls. There is a tone, a certain tone, that will always bring a loving parent running to help a child. Trust me, I’ve raised two boys, and that tone has put me on the run more than once. And what I’m saying, dear friend, is that you praying with this tone just might be what God is waiting to hear before He starts running to meet your need. Oh, and by the way, when your pain gets intense enough, you won’t have to work up or fake this tone. It will come out of you as naturally as breathing. When you see me, you can ask me how I know that and I’ll be glad to tell you.