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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  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. Dear Paul,
    I love your determination. I love your Spirit. I love your post!!!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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