When Desperate Prayers Go Unanswered (#687)

How can you keep believing in God when he doesn't answer your most ardent prayers or fails to make himself known in the darkest places. That's Jim's dilemma, and he's concluded that the combination of his pain and God's activity may be proof that his hope in God isn't based on anything real, but on false mantras, creeds, doctrines, and wishful thinking that he learned as a child. Maybe he doesn't exist at all. Kyle Rice again joins Wayne to help process Jim's email and explore how we learn to trust God in a broken world when he doesn't often respond the way we think love would compel him to act in the face of our need or pain.

Podcast Notes:
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11 Comments

  1. Had an abusive childhood, many years of loneliness and depression, anxiety, anger, panic attacks and psychosis. Married at 19 yrs, struggled “forever” to keep going. Struggled with my ID. Had 2 children and now a wife of 48 yrs that stood with me. Truly she was sent of God to stand by me when my image of God was so twisted. I made a vow to myself at 30 yrs that I would keep going or die trying. And I really really meant it. No matter what I would not quit. I personally met Jesus when I left the institution and life will never be the same. We have small but meaningful gatherings of people sent into our lives. And life will never be the same, for life is worth the living just because he lives in me.

  2. In my experience God does not answer us in the moment of our greatest need. He answers us when we are ready to listen. And maybe, like Job, it is only when we have moved beyond that point of despair that we are sufficiently still to hear Him – “Be still and know that I am God”. I read somewhere that God does not promise that suffering will be removed from this life, only that it will be redeemed. That’s the promise that we hold on to.

    • “…God does not answer us in the moment of our greatest need.” I couldn’t agree more, Glyn! I have also experienced God not showing up in pain, loss and despair to offer any comfort or compassion or empathy to let me know I am not alone and I am being held with love… And that is the reason I now mostly see God (if there is one) at best as capricious, arbitrary and mostly disinterested…and at the worst as cruel, heartless and sadistic.

      I cannot imagine saying to a loved one, “I am not going to be with you in your greatest need; but I will only be present and make myself known to you when you are ready to listen to me.” We’re not talking about ignoring a tantrum being pitched by a petulant child; we are talking about a moment of “greatest need.” What is that?!?! That would be rather insensitive and arrogant of me to withdrawal from someone in devastating pain and loss until a later time that I deem as best for my loved one.

      Also, questioning the goodness/existence of this deity does not mean that I or others have a misguided idea that christians aren’t supposed to suffer. I want to know why he isn’t making himself known to me and so many others who are begging and pleading for him to make himself known.

  3. My Father always shows up, not only in places of greatest need but also in the dailiness of life as it unfolds. My heart hurts for anyone who feels like he doesn’t for them. I had moments in my younger days feeling similarly, for months or years at a time. Now, I look back at those times and realize I was looking in all the wrong places and now see more clearly how he was showing up for me. I just didn’t recognize him because it wasn’t what I’d been taught to expect

    I understand how people can feel abandoned and even question his existence and if they need to do that, go ahead. He’s still bigger than that and still looking for a way in. But I think we have more to gain by assuming I’ve had bad training than giving up on him. He is the most faithful, endearing presence in the universe. Finding that reality isn’t easy, I’ll grant you that. I don’t always understand why he doesn’t show up in ways I’d think better.

    But I have tons of emails from people who felt similarly for years and then discovered a different way to connect with his reality. They talk now in great wonder at how God makes himself known. No, this connection is never easy, but it is worth a pursuit, even if it’s a lifetime one.

  4. I write this because I believe that Jesus carried all our sicknesses and diseases, BUT He is the way to divine life! It is not about proclaiming or similar principles.

    Paul wrote that the redemption through His Blood is in Him (Eph. 1,7) and that all promises are yes and amen in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20).

    Now in Him is primarly in Love (1 John 4:16), yet this as Paul (1 Cor 1:30) and John (1 John 4:19) state has its source in God. But He is also Joy and Peace.

    So far, so good.

    Now Paul (Phil. 2:12-13) and Peter (1 Pet. 1:9) write to christians about working out the salvation or reaching the target of our faith, the salvation of our soul.

    With that in mind, lets go back. Jesus accepts and loves us and remains with us even while we sin (to me, this is the washing of our feets, absolutely necessary for everyone), and then we have even grace to make mistakes and Jesus forgives us, but this is so that we can learn what we do really desire from our heart, where God writes His good and beautiful will and teaches us also in our mind to learn to understand what we truly desire. This is that we seek and find the satisfaction of our soul in these good things, away from the bad satisfactions of lusts and pride to love and acceptance with each other and making each other happy (Mt. 7:12-14, Gal. 6:10), yet also in the pure joy of enjoying things – it is freedom in all good things, it must not be everything “spiritual”. His yoke is not heavy but brings peace, and remember, it is primarly love, it just satisfies deeper. But He is a good Lord who wants us to have joy all the way, everywhere, just that we are satisfied with only the good desires. This is the law of life, to follow the tree of life from heart. And not only in love and joy, of course also in peace (i.e. in trusting God that He gives us all we need). I believe all these together balanced in the freedom of the desire of our heart is the living way to total wholesomeness, to total redemption in His spirit through the good desires He writes into our hearts, which is the way of the new covenant (Hebrews 8+10), Christ in us, the hope of glory! And on this way, we are promised to get to know Him personally more and more (2 Pet. 1:3-8), which transforms us even more (2 Cor. 3:18).

    Peace and grace
    J.

    • PS: And all of this relaxed … no stress, no pressure, no coercion … but in trust peacefully finding the loving, joyful or peaceful desires within, which satisfy onto a pure soul.

      Philippians 1,6:
      “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”

      Philippians 2,13:
      “for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

      Philippians 4,7:
      “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

      • Sorry, that was badly put:
        “… which satisfy onto a pure soul.”
        Maybe people strive for perfection with that in mind, but it’s about finding true oneness with the living God, who is true life, love, joy and peace.

        • Man, and for people who are really facing difficult circumstances, let us just pray for each other and love each other, and I believe Jesus takes care.

          • Ooooookay, seems like I have to write a message from the Lord.

            The living way of trusting Jesus AND brotherly love (1. John 3:23) is not oneway serving people who claim to be christians but only care about their own problems, no, it is only in loving each other both ways (John 13:34), living for each other (Phil. 2:2-4), caring each others burdens (Gal. 6:2), making each other happy (Matthew 7:12-14). Here are a few more import verses about this true kingdom of the Love of Jesus: Romans 12:3-16, 1. Peter 4:8-11, 1. Cor. 5:11-13, 1. John 1:7, 1. Peter 1:22.
            Also the first disciples were a long time just together with Jesus and each other and learned from Jesus, before they began to serve others much later. I believe now, that we are not even to evangelize unless we are really living in such a brotherly love first (Gal. 6:10), among other reasons because it is where the newborn shall come to. But don’t try to convice christians to this way of life when they do not have the desire for it in their hearts. Live it with the ones who God really opens their hearts.

            We are in the Hands of our Father, eternally safe.
            John 10:29

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