What do we do in the face of unanswered prayers?
So often I hear from people that it is hard for them to have faith because God has not answered their prayers. In fact, as a result of unanswered prayers, many Christians to begin to falsely believe that God doesn’t love them, that they have some sin that is blocking God’s blessings, or even worse, that God doesn’t exist.
Is this how we should react in the face of unanswered prayers?
I would begin by asking you a question. What is the bigger faith builder: To have faith in God that He will heal/prosper you, or to have faith if He doesn’t?
It is, of course, easier to have faith that He will answer our prayers. No one wants to even embrace the possibility that God might not. I know. I was certain that God would take away my cancerous tumor. I was equally certain that God would sell our house when it came time to downsize. And I just knew God wouldn’t take my mom to Heaven until I was ready to let her go.
But God did not remove that tumour or sell our house in a timely fashion, and He did take my mom home at what I would initially feel was the worst possible time: Christmas time!
Should I have been angry at God? Should I have stopping putting my trust in Him? Should I have cursed Him?
The first time God spoke to me about having faith in Him when my prayer wasn’t answered was 10 years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of miraculously removing the cancer, He carried me through in such a manner that in the end, I thanked Him for blessing me with cancer.
Then, four years ago, my house didn’t sell. I was sorely tempted to turn away; but I remembered the cancer experience. I chose to believe that the unanswered prayer was His gift to me. In the end, God waited to sell the house until we were outside the country for three months and couldn’t stress over all the selling details. How glad I was in the end that I wasn’t sitting at home when the plumbing and the drywall had to be changed out! He arranged for everything, right down the minutest detail, even for the perfect home to come on the market for us to move into. The fact that our house didn’t sell right away had nothing to do with us having done anything wrong. It was simply because God knew that His timing was perfect, and it would all be for our best good!
And then, on Christmas Day in 2020, my mom was taken to hospital where she passed away two days later. As a result of the COVID lockdowns, Christmas celebrations hadn’t been what I would have chosen it to be. We couldn’t have a proper funeral or burial, and my family, who are all down in the US, couldn’t cross the US/Canada border to see her in her last hours or to attend the funeral. In fact, COVID dictated that I couldn’t even be with her in her final hours! God, what were You thinking?
Once again, I could hear God asking me if my faith was big enough to trust that He knew best, despite what I saw. I remembered God’s timing had been impeccable for the sale of our home. I knew that somehow, God had chosen the best time to take my mom home.
Here are a few of the advantages to God’s timing for taking my mom home:
a. He allowed her a beautiful Christmas Eve with my family, even though it was virtual
b. He allowed her to connect with all of the US family and gave her a beautiful Christmas Day, right up until the evening when she fell sick
c. God had her go during COVID because:
i. He used the COVID season to drive up market prices, allowing us to get at least $100,000 more for her home than it would otherwise have been worth
ii. The market situation due to COVID also worked in our favor to sell the house quickly. It sold in 4 days with multiple offers and a bidding war.
iii. He was ensuring I would be spending the winter at home, rather than fleeing the cold as we normally do, thus giving me the gift of being able to be here to settle her estate
I’m sure that as more time goes by, I will see more and more of God’s grace in my seemingly unanswered prayer. The point is, when God “doesn’t answer” our prayers, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us. It doesn’t mean that we were wrong to put our faith in Him. It doesn’t mean we have some sin in our lives. It doesn’t mean we didn’t give enough to the poor. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. What it DOES means is that in His ultimate love, He is protecting us from something that wouldn’t be as good or that might hurt us.
What prayers have been left unanswered, my friends? Don’t blame God — or yourself. Rather, decide to put your trust in a God who knows all things, in a God who truly knows what you need, even when you don’t, in a God who knows the right time for everything. I guarantee that this will be an even bigger faith builder for you than if He had given you what you asked for in the first place, and in the end, you will praise Him for His timing, His mercy, His grace and His love for you!
I ask you again: What builds more faith? Believing God for a miracle? Or believing God when you don’t receive it? You cannot convince me of any other choice than the later! Please join me in praising God for unanswered prayers!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.