Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Jeremiah 29:11 clearly states that God wants to give us a hope and a future. He gets our attention in order to give us that hope and a future that He promised. The methods God uses to get our attention are not the same for everyone, but there are some that are common attention getters.
We need to pay attention to the things that happen to us and around us to discern when God is trying to capture our attention.
Pay attention to the ways God uses to get your attention. Ten of them are listed in this article. However, there could be plenty more.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
One of the quickest ways God gets our attention is by stopping what we are doing by disrupting our plans. God isn't being mean to us when he interrupts what we are doing. He is forcing us to slow down and to focus more on Him.
Perhaps we made our plans without God. To keep us from going in the wrong direction, God stops us from doing what we are doing even though we have convinced ourselves that we are doing the right thing.
The story of the Tower of Babel found in Genesis 11:1-9 is a great example of how God disrupts people's plans.
When God wants us to do something, He might make us restless until we what He wants us to do. A good example is recorded in Esther 6:1-3.
One night the king was restless and couldn't sleep. He got out of bed and ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. He heard about Mordecai who had done a good deed and had not been rewarded for it. Things were put in place for Mordecai to be rewarded and the entire Jewish nation was spared. It was because of the king's restlessness.
God gets our attention through the voice of those who we don't expect to hear from. God spoke though young Samuel to give Eli a divine message. It took Eli four times to understand what was going on.
God spoke through Samuel to get His message to Eli, according to 1 Samuel 3.
4. Unusual Blessings
God gets our attention through unusual blessings. You must admit that it was an unusual blessing for Elijah to be fed by ravens while he was hiding from Jezebel at the Kerith Brook. Ravens took him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and Elijah drank from the brook (1 Kings 17:2-6).
God definitely got Elijah's attention. He wanted Elijah to know that he could depend on God instead of Jezebel. God wants us to know that we can depend on Him for our needs.
5. By Saying 'No'
God sometimes says "No" to our prayer. We don't like to hear it, but He does use this method to get our attention. This is the way God got David's attention when his child was sick and died.
David had prayed fervently for his baby not to die, but God denied David's request. That got David's attention, and he accepted it (2 Samuel 12:16-23).
God uses disappointments to get our attention. The Bible records stories of lots of people who were disappointed when they did not get what they wanted. Several women were barren and prayed for sons. They were disappointed while God worked out the right time for it to happen.
Most of the barren women were also old. They thought they would never have a male child. They all eventually did but only after great disappointment before it happened.
- Sarah: Genesis 11:30
- Rebekah: Genesis 25:21
- Rachel: Genesis 29:31
- Hannah: 1 Samuel 1:6
- Elizabeth: Luke 1:7
7. Extreme Circumstances
Sometimes God will use extreme circumstances and situations to get our attention. The circumstances are so unusual that we can't help but stop and listen.
A very good example of a bizarre situation is recorded in Exodus 3 when Moses encountered God in a burning bush. Bushes are not in the desert, and if they were there, they would not burn by themselves, and surely God wouldn't be speaking from one. However, that is exactly what happened and surely, it got Moses' attention.
How could a small city like Ai defeat Joshua's large army of about three thousand men? Ai defeated the Israelite army, and God used the defeat to get Joshua's attention.
Israel learned a big lesson after it was surprisingly defeated, according to Joshua 7:4-5.
9. Loss of Possessions
Job was rich and he had it all, but he also lost it all. He had seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a large number of servants. Job lost them all in one day including his ten children (Job 1).
All these losses got Job's attention especially since he had done nothing wrong. Job began to pay attention through the loss of his possessions.
Not only did Job experience tragedies through the loss of all of his possessions, but Job also experienced sickness and affliction that got his attention. Job was afflicted with sores all over his body.
Even though Job's encounters got his attention, we should never think God caused those things. In the very first chapter of Job, the devil wanted to see if Job would still serve God if he experienced tragedies and losses (Job 1).
Perhaps the above ten methods God uses will give you some ideas about why you have encountered some of the things you have.
God wants to do so much for us, but first He must get our attention. If unexplainable things are happening to you, it might be God's way of getting your attention in order to give you a hope and a future. Pray to God and ask Him what He is saying to you through those particular attention getters.