“Faith is about trusting God when you have unanswered questions.”
~ Joel Osteen ~
Has there been a time in your life that you have asked God where He was, or perhaps why an injustice was done, or maybe even why an illness was not removed? One of the heaviest burdens I believe the human heart carries is that of unanswered prayers. Yet this week, as I sat in my usual Tuesday morning Women’s Bible study group God laid something upon my heart.
What we perceive as unanswered prayer, is God’s gentle way of saying so many things. Have you ever taken a child to the store? Perhaps seen a child in the store with his or her mom or dad? I remember one particular instance I was in the store with my husband, Robert, and our youngest, Joshua. We had to budget our spending as some of our usual funds had been reduced. So when my adorable four year old, brown eyed, boy looked up at me and asked for a toy I had to lovingly tell him not now.
“Not now. Not now.”Sometimes too this can be received as. “Is this what you really need?” Every so often too, it can be the gentle and softest whisper of, “No.” None of these are ever what we want to hear. Much as my four year old did not like hearing those words, those same words are ones that even well into adulthood we never like to hear. Let’s face it, even as believers…we are still very much children who hope to get our way. Even when we pray, sometimes we go before the Lord with certain expectations. When they are not met, we tend to perceive this as unanswered prayer, but is it?
Going over more of both Lee Strobel’s “The Case For Christ” and Jennifer Rothschild’s “Missing Pieces: Real Hope When Life Does Not Make Sense” I was presented with the most amazing of examples of unanswered prayer. That prayer, was Jesus’ as he went and knelt in the Garden at Gethsemane.
Matthew 26:36-42King James Version (KJV)
36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
Jesus was nearing the final hours of His life as well as ministry. He knew what He had been called to do. Blameless as Jesus was, He was still a man. Our Savior, in this moment experienced something that would have tempted many a man to flee. Jesus as He prayed in the gardens of Gethsemane, was afraid. He felt the weight of His burden and asked God to….if it were possible…remove it from Him. Then placed His life in God’s hands as He said: Thy Will Be Done. Jesus requested to be spared in His weakness, yet told God that He would see it through if it was His will.
Have you ever prayed like this over someone, a situation, an illness? Have you ever went down on bended knee and asked for a a certain result and pleaded for His will to be done, though you knew in your heart what that could mean?
I know…I have…
When I was a little girl, my grandmother on my mother’s side, was diagnosed with breast cancer. The woman I admired and looked up to more than any other in the world was dying. Despairing and fearing for her life, I prayed as I had never prayed before.
My prayer: Lord please heal my grandmother. Ease her of her pain, or Lord…please…if it is your will, take her home to be with you. Let your will be done Lord, but please…I ask don’t let her hurt anymore.
Remembering this now, tears still stain my cheeks. For when God answered, it was not the answer I wanted. God, in His loving mercy, took her home to Heaven to be with Him…on January 3, 1995.
Jesus was given a similar answer. His prayers in that moment and the hours following as He hung upon the cross, were silence, and as a loving child would…Jesus called out to His Father in Heaven.
Mark 15:33-34 King James Version (KJV)
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
As Jesus was beaten and crucified, God was silent. There was no deliverance from the situation. Jesus endured, and likely in those moments, when He was at His lowest He felt abandoned and alone.
Luke 23:44-46King James Version (KJV)
44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
It is in that instant though, as Jesus hung dying, that He set the example of fully committing one’s self in faith. Jesus could have cursed God as He hung on Calvary. He could have gotten angry and bitter. Instead He committed Himself fully to God ‘s will.
Psalm 22King James Version (KJV)
22 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.5 They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.12 Many bulls have encompassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me around. 3 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.28 For the kingdom is the Lord‘s: and he is the governor among the nations.29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
Jesus, God’s Perfect Lamb, and Our Redeemer demonstrated for us an example of profound faith. Not feeling heard, being left in His darkest hour, Jesus exercised unwavering…and unshakable faith as He gave Himself on the cross. So when we pray…we need to look to Jesus, and do as He did and trust God wholly, fully, and completely.
May God Bless You This Day…