| HEARD A story about a girl who wrote to a missionary. She'd been told not to request a response from him because missionaries are very busy. She wrote, "We are praying for you, but we are not expecting an answer."|
Do you feel like God doesn't answer your prayers? Does it seem like He's not even listening? Actually, there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. God does answer, but sometimes His answer is "no."
God is a loving parent, but His love means more than fulfilling our demands. He is not a parent who gives in to the whims of selfish children. He's not a bell hop who jumps at our command or a genie who provides everything we wish for. He's not a vending machine that spits out what we want when we push the right buttons.
Is it fair for us to run to God when we want something, but ignore Him and His laws the rest of the time? If we do not love Him, why do we expect Him to do as we command? That's like a child who rejects all his parents' teaching, and doesn't care how much his lifestyle hurts mom and dad. Yet, when he wants something, he comes running to the parents that he doesn't even care about ˆ just to use them when it suits him. Children often say things like, "If you love me, you'll give me what I want." That's not what love is about. Yet, we say this same thing to God, don't we?
God's ways are far above my ways, so I can't speak for Him. But I'm sure that it's just as difficult for Him to watch His children suffer as it is for us to stand by while our little ones are hurting. Sometimes even love must say, "No." Just as the pain of surgery is necessary to help a patient, emotional pain is sometimes necessary in our lives.
There is also the issue of free choice. Many of our grown children make deplorable choices. Sometimes, parents bail their kids out when they get into bad situations. But that sort of aid is often not helpful. It only enables children to continue in the destructive lifestyle. They know they will be rescued when the going gets tough. If they don't have to face the consequences of their behavior, why should they change? The same is true of all God's children. If He gave us everything we wanted, rewarding us for going against His wishes, what motivation would there be for us to live the way He wants us to?
Would we even care about His wishes or feelings?
It's also possible that what we interpret to be an answer of "no" from God may just be Him telling us to wait a while. He is the creator, we're the creation. He's the potter, we're the clay. (Isaiah 64:8) Can the clay tell the potter what to do or when to do it? (Isaiah 29:16 and 45:9 )
There are three things I know for sure:
1) God loves me.
2) He has all knowledge, so He knows what's best.
3) He has all power and can do anything.
When I put those three things together (He can do anything, He loves me, and He knows what is best), then I am able to trust His decisions and His timing, whether they make sense to me or not.
Whether His answer to prayer is a "yes," a "no," or a "wait," I need to let God answer in His own time, in His own way.
Additional Thoughts to Ponder:
God is near the broken hearted.
Through hardships, God is training me,
so should I try to avoid them?
Rather than disasters turning people into critics of God,
they should turn them into pursuers of God.
Marsha Jordan is a disabled grandmother, author, and shower singer who began her writing career on the bathroom walls of St. Joseph's Catholic Elementary School. Now her writing appears in restrooms throughout the country. Jordan has two boys, ages 30 and 55. She's been married to the 55 year old for 31 years.
She's been held captive for a quarter of a century In the north woods of Wisconsin where she shares an empty nest with her rocket scientist husband and their badly behaved toy poodle, King Louie who rules the household with an iron paw.
After her grandson was badly burned, Jordan created The HUGS and HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit charity devoted to cheering critically ill and injured children.
Jordan's inspirational and humorous essays are available in her new book, "Hugs, Hope, and Peanut Butter." The book is illustrated with drawings by kids who are battling for life.
More columns by Marsha Jordan