Does God hear your prayers? Do you see the need around you? John Buckeridge asks some hard questions

You will either love or hate this month’s black cover, but either way you will have noticed it. No, we didn’t just forget to put anything on it (!), we wanted to powerfully make the point that sometimes it feels like God is far away or silent… we can feel like our prayers are just a tiny voice shouting into a big void of nothing.

Krish Kandiah’s moving feature speaks into that lonely place which most Christians visit and some feel permanently stuck in. If that’s where you are right now we hope this article will help you to realise you are not alone, in both senses. God is with you whether you feel it or not, and there are others who are going through the same thing.

God sometimes appears to ignore our pleas, but how often do we ignore God’s pleas and those of our fellow man? We have failed to adequately respond to the plight of the world’s poor, despite being better informed about the needs than ever before. I wear glasses with varifocal lenses. They help me see near, middle and far distant objects fairly well without having to change specs or wear bifocals. Keeping things in focus, whether near or far away is important at every level, not just in terms of physical sight...

As Jesus hung, totally alone, alienated for the first time from his Father because of the abuse, greed, murder, lust, hatred, gluttony, racism, lies and the rest of the sin of you, me, and the billions of humans who had, or will ever live – what kept him there?

Jesus was totally aware of his mission. He came to save the world and he held the whole of creation in his gaze – the destiny of every man, woman and child. It all hung in the balance while Jesus suffered. Our eternal destiny was only decided when Jesus died and rose again. Jesus saw everything – a vast panoramic view was set before him – and seeing that goal kept him nailed to that piece of wood.

And yet… incredibly, in the middle of this titanic struggle, while Christ focused onto the billions of souls set before him, he was not blind to the needs of individuals under his nose. His gaze was not frozen on the distant horizon. Putting his mother under the care and protection of John and responding to a common thief pleading for his help as he was dying on a neighbouring cross, Jesus had compassion on the individual as well as holding onto the biggest goal there ever was.

Of course, we cannot match Christ’s all seeing, all loving compassion, but we can ask him for help to become more like him. Seeing the ‘big picture’ while not being blind to the individual up close and personal, is a balancing act many of us fail to master. We can easily topple over and give most, or all, of our attention to one or the other. Usually we are drawn into what is under our nose – because it may clamour for our attention the loudest. Some of us have myopic compassion – restricted to ourselves and maybe our immediate circle of family and friends. Some can see wider to the community, some can see further still to people in other lands and continents. But Christ calls on you and me have a varifocal lens of love that can care for the near, middle distant and far away. I commend you to Jonathan Langley’s article, Renewing Your Mind, on page 38, which I hope will encourage you to keep on looking at the needs of others and avoid becoming hard-hearted towards those who live far away but have massive problems that we can help alleviate.

The silence of God is one thing, but the silence of half the world while the other half starves to death is quite another.