Put yourself in this situation:
You’ve been praying for the same thing for days, weeks, months, or maybe even years. You’ve faithfully asked God over and over to just answer this one question or request. You’ve waited eagerly for a glimmer of hope that your prayer is going to be answered. You’ve waited for a ray of sunshine to penetrate the storm that has overtaken your life, but to no avail.
It appears God is silent. It appears He has no interest in working in your favor on this one. It appears that He has greater problems to attend to. It may even appear that the God you thought you were following all along isn’t who you thought He was: He isn’t good, He isn’t fair, and He doesn’t want what’s best for you. You deserve better. You haven’t done anything to deserve the storm you’re in. You’ve done a lot of good, not a lot of bad, and you’ve always called yourself a Christian.
Why isn’t He listening? Why isn’t He answering?
Maybe it didn’t take much imagination to put yourself in this situation. Maybe it’s the current story of your life. The likelihood is that this has been you in the past, or is you presently. If not, it will likely be you in the future because we are in this world, and this world we will have trouble (John 16:33).
In the pit of the storm, it’s so difficult to see clearly who God is and understand how He is working. It’s so easy and natural to look to Him as a rescue agent that will instantly snatch you out of your trials, restoring you to a painless, perfect life.
Where did this painful disillusion originate? Definitely not in His Word. Where did we get the idea that being a Christian would make life easier? From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus promises that following Him would make life harder. It would bring persecution and trials. But He also promises that He has overcome the world and He is Hope in every situation.
We tend to forget the entirety of His promises and just remember the part about Him being our hope. We then turn that around to mean that when bad things happen, and our world starts crumbling around us, we have Hope to make all the bad go away; we have Hope to dry up the storm.
We naively and innocently believe this, but when we do, Satan wins. Satan succeeds in making us perceive God as a genie. Satan succeeds in making us create our own god who answers our every question and need.
When I think about my tendency to fall into this perception of God, I think about Mary as she sits outside the empty tomb. As she weeps, Jesus comes to her and asks her why she is crying. He gently rebukes her by reminding her that she has no cause for crying. She has witnessed the fulfillment of His promise to rise again. Mary was a faithful friend, seeking her Lord, but she wasn’t expecting Him to be alive, despite the promises that He had made.
How often am I Mary? How often do I pray, or even worse, fail to pray, in unwarranted sorrow, over the things that Jesus already promised me He would take care of? How often do I come to God in prayer, seeking a Messiah that died and never rose, rather than a Conquerer, a Lion of Judah, who has overcome the world?
When we pray, are we seeking the One who reveals His character to us in His Word, or are we seeking our own god whose character we’ve personally constructed?
When God is silent, we’re tempted to doubt His goodness; we’re tempted to doubt that His promises are true; we’re tempted to doubt that He’s in control and that’s He’s working entirely for us. We fail to realize that in all our trials that He allows to enter our lives, He is working behind the scenes. We look for Him through our narrow, earthly lenses and conclude that He’s left the scene.
As John Piper reminds, God is often masterminding a thousand details behind the tapestry of our lives, and we only get to see three of them. Sometimes we see them immediately. Sometimes we don’t for years. Sometimes we don’t see them until we’re with Him in eternity. And yet the truth remains: He is still in the business of answering our prayers.
So instead of viewing your prayers as unanswered, start trusting. Trust that the God you worship really is weaving together the threads of your life in a way that is greater than you could ever do on your own.
What if the world that you see as falling apart is really falling into place? What if all the suffering that you’re enduring and all the loneliness you feel is what God knows you need to grow into all the potential He has for you and your life?
When we keep our eyes focused on the pain around us, it’s natural to question God’s sovereignty and goodness. But when we keep our eyes focused on His promises, it’s inevitable to feel His love and purpose.
You’re in His hands. Your prayers are heard. Your prayers are being answered.
Started seeking the real Him instead of the weak, unfaithful, genie god that you’ve created.