When God Doesn’t Answer in the Way You Wanted

What do you do when you don’t get the answer to the prayer you wanted? I’m sitting in a hospital room with my son while I write this. He had a challenge for his peanut allergy today (where he eats peanut butter and they gauge his reaction to see if he still has the allergy) and it didn’t go well. He was so anxious that he made himself sick and couldn’t get bites of peanut butter down, almost to the point of hyperventilating. I tried everything—coaxing, encouraging, bribery. Nothing worked to settle him down. And I feel like I failed somehow. I was so excited about the possibility of getting rid of that peanut allergy and now we are worse off when we started.

As a parent you want to keep your kids safe and hopefully help them be great adults one day. And when parenting means that you have to try to force your kid to do something they are terrified of, it’s really hard. And when it doesn’t work and you don’t even have any triumph to walk away with, it’s even harder.

What happens when the thing you prayed for isn’t granted by God? I wanted so badly to be free of this, and we aren’t. I wanted to be able to announce that our battle with food allergies was finally over. I’m disappointed, but not with my son. He’s just a little guy whose body has been put through a lot over the years to get through these allergies. I’m disappointed with myself for some reason. And I’m a little frustrated with God, to be honest.

What about those who pray for healing for their loved one and instead God takes them home to heaven? What about those who pray for the career to turn around and God leads them a different direction instead? Or those who have to lose their house and all their financial gain before God brings another job? What about when you put so much of yourself into a dream and then watch the dream die?

As my sister-in-Christ Kara Tippetts used to say, it is a “hard”. She used hard as a noun and I love it. It seems to be the best description sometimes, and she would know. She died two years ago from breast cancer leaving behind three small children and a husband. But she also said we needed to have an imagination for the grace that would meet us past the hard. She was really talking about heaven, but I think we need that for our daily struggles and losses as well. Can I keep believing that although God didn’t bring this grace that I wanted, that doesn’t mean He is any less full of grace for me? Can I trust that even when He says no or allows something to fail that He loves me and is at work behind the scenes orchestrating another way that He has decided is best?

I think I must pray like the guy in Mark 9:24, “I do believe. Help my unbelief.” I’m not running away, Lord. I’m still standing here. I’m sad and a little angry, but I do believe that you are loving me even though I don’t understand it. Help me to believe you and provide the faith I need to walk forward to the next hurdle and not hide because I’m letting fear dictate my life.

So, I am thankful. I am thankful that Jesus is still loving me and my son through this. I’m thankful that He is going to carry us through the next thing, and only in His strength can we do life anyway. I am thankful that even though today feels like a defeat, it’s not a defeat for Him. And I am still more than a conqueror through Him who loves me. And hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel more like a conqueror, but for now, I know it’s true. He has not left or given up. He has not forgotten us.

I love the laments of David in Psalms where he talks about all the frustrating things going on around him and then keeps coming back to the truth of the character of God. He sees everything is falling apart around him, but recognizes that God is still full of lovingkindness for him.

Are you facing a loss today? I’m sorry if you are. It’s tough. I’m thankful, though, that our God is still God, and He still loves you. And I’m thankful that He is still active although it feels like He’s not. He does not bring loss just to make us miserable—there is always a way to know Him in the midst. So, I am thankful that we get to press on together in knowing Him.

 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

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