Under the Fig Tree
Have you ever felt like God wasn’t hearing your prayers when you needed Him the most? Maybe there was pain inflicted on your heart by a loss or an act of cruelty. Maybe there was a time in which the burden of shame and guilt became so overbearing that all you could do was desperately cry out to God for mercy. Or perhaps there was a time when your heart was aching for someone else’s need, causing you to pray fervently on his or her behalf.
It could even be now, at this very moment that you are going through your darkest hour. You may be earnestly seeking God for direction or comfort…but nothing seems to be happening. “Where are you God,” you might wonder, “Why haven’t you answered my prayer?” When this happens, loneliness can begin to set in. You can start to feel like God isn’t listening or that He’s preoccupied elsewhere—perhaps in a more important and/or distant place. That is what your emotions tell you anyway. If left unchecked, your emotions can easily fuel feelings of despair, anxiety, or hopelessness as they race their way into your heart and mind. And if you keep fueling your emotions they will eventually gain control of your heart and mind. If this is you today, I want to urge you not to give your emotions that kind of power! Why? Because it is impossible to live by emotions and to live by faith at the same time!
The truth is, God is not like any person you’ve ever known in your life. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And He loves you beyond what you can fathom. You don’t ever bother or disturb Him when you pray- it’s actually what He expects! It doesn’t matter how big or small the request is, God is interested in ALL of it because He is Lord over ALL of it!
The story of Philip and Nathanael becoming disciples illustrates this truth beautifully. Philip had just been called to follow Jesus before finding Nathanael and urging him to do the same. John 1:47 says that, “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” Now, the amazing thing about this is, Nathanael had never met Jesus before that day! So for Him to say this didn’t make any sense to him because he didn't know who Jesus was. Puzzled with his statement, Nathanael responded to Jesus by asking, “How do you know me?”
So, first of all, before going any further, you can learn and trust from this beautiful story that God knows you. Immediately upon Nathanael’s arrival, Jesus gave him a HUGE compliment. He was affirming the purity of heart that Nathanael had for God and declared him righteous as a child of God. He knew who Nathanael was at his innermost core. He knew his character and what he stood for. Ultimately, He knew Nathanael better than anyone else did.
Secondly, you can be assured that God hears you. The story continues with Jesus providing a profound answer to Nathanael’s question when he says, “ I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Now, in order to fully grasp the significance of this response you must first know that a fig tree at that time was a place for study and prayer. It was common practice for Israelites to spend devotional time with God underneath its shade. Under the fig tree is where Nathanael poured out his heart to God. Under the fig tree is where he made his requests known. So, in essence, Jesus was saying, “Mighty Man of God…I’ve heard you. When you spend time alone with God, you spend time alone with me. I hear and know the depths of your heart through every single one of your prayers.” What a powerful revelation!
Thirdly, you can be assured that God sees you. Jesus made it a point to say he saw Nathanael to emphasize His omnipresence and watchful eye over him. Although Nathanael was alone physically, God never left his side. God never leaves your side either. Psalm 139:2 says, “He knows when you sit and when you rise…your going out and your lying down; He is familiar with all your ways.” He sees you in your private place of prayer. He sees you when you lift your hands in worship. He even sees your tears and collects them in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). There is absolutely nothing hidden before Him.
Upon receiving these revelations, Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel!” All feelings of doubt and despair had to flee, because full-fledged faith took over! You see, when you realize how much God knows you, hears you, and sees you, you can’t help but recognize Him for who He is! Only an almighty, all-loving God can and will do that! And when you realize how deep His love is for you, you can’t help but be filled with wonder and worship!
MOVE. MEASURE. MARCH.