When God doesn’t answer your prayers …

For nearly two years I prayed. And, not your normal type of prayer. I’m talking day after day, face down on my floor, agonizing, crying out to God, praying through His Word, begging Him to intervene. I so desperately needed Him to intervene. I wanted Him to turn everything around and stop my pain. I trusted Him implicitly and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He could do what I was asking. But, not only did He not turn things around for me, my circumstances grew increasingly worse.

Betrayal.

Loss.

Rejection.

More loss.

Life was spiraling out of control, and there was no stop button that I could push. Oh, how I wished for a “stop” button! Truth is, we always have a choice. We can choose to throw in the towel and become a victim of our circumstances, or we can choose to press into the presence of the One who knows every way we take, who predetermined our purpose before we were knit together in our mother’s womb, whose promises are “yes and amen,” who promises that He will never, ever, ever leave us or forsake us, who is always working everything together for our good for those who love Him.

I chose to press in to His presence. And, I’ll never regret it! Though I could not often see His hand at work, He was working in ways that would only be revealed years later. Every circumstance. Every pain. Every loss. Every betrayal. Every seemingly nonsensical moment. God was weaving a beautiful tapestry. One that would take years to unfold. Yet … without even realizing it, through the supernatural, loving hands of God, He’d placed me into a carefully spun cocoon. A place of darkness and death. Yet a place that would bring a supernatural transformation. A transformation that could only come through dying. Dying to all my hopes, dreams and desires. The years of watching my life spiral out of control were years of God working for me a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! A glory that would find me emerging from the cocoon as a beautiful butterfly. No longer crawling like a caterpillar from pillar to post, but free and flying! Flying with two strong wings. The wings of Spirit and Truth! Transformed! Free! Spreading the fragrance of Jesus!

Having gone through long seasons of not seeing God rushing in to fix my circumstances and relieve me of my pain, I can’t help but think of Mary and Martha. Their story unfolds in John chapter 11.

Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus (Jesus’ friend, whom He loved) was very sick. But oddly, Jesus didn’t stop what He was doing to run back into town to tend to His very ill friend, let alone, support His very dear friends, Mary and Martha, in their despairing angst.

Instead, Jesus’ response was, “This sickness will not end in death. It is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

Only the true Son of God would be able to foreknow such an outcome!

Keep in mind, Mary, Martha and Lazarus were some of Jesus’ closest friends. He invested time in His relationship with them and loved them with an “agapao” kind of love. This was a higher, deeper, most tender kind of love. One of being chosen. Incidentally, it’s the same kind of love that you and I as believers share in today.

Mary and Martha surely anticipated that Jesus would immediately run back to their home. They desperately needed their Friend, but even more than their Friend, they needed the Divine Physician. They had seen Him perform miracle after miracle. He made the lame to walk. The blind to see, and cast out demons. And now, their brother needed a miracle!

I wonder if they felt forgotten. Forsaken in their greatest moment of need. Surely they trusted Him. They knew that their brother would be resurrected at the final day, when the dead in Christ will rise. But, they were certain that Jesus would heal their brother. After all, everywhere He went He healed people, and now, one of His closest friends needed healing, and Jesus was nowhere to be found.

Now it was too late. Their beloved brother was dead.

If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you can imagine Mary and Martha’s deep anguish and grief. It was an indescribable loss, and I can imagine their sorrow was compounded by the delay in Jesus’ response.

I’m sure you can relate. You were certain that God would answer your prayer, and come through for you. Your faith was unshakable. Yet, the answer you prayed and hoped for didn’t come.

Or, could it be that He answered. It just wasn’t what you expected and wanted. There are times when it’s clear that His answer comes in the form of one single word.

“Wait.”

It’s a tough pill to swallow when our world is spiraling out of control. When the pain is so deep that we aren’t sure how we’ll take another step.

It’s a one-word answer; yet, one that if we had the ability to unpack we would see that He is really giving us a gift.

The gift of time.

Time in that carefully spun cocoon.

Time to change and transform us into His image.

Time to renew our minds so that we become more like Him.

Time to see and experience His supernatural faithfulness and provision.

Time during those lonely, dark long nights for Him to comfort us and show us the depth of His love.

Time to learn how to truly abide in His presence.

Time to open our eyes to an eternal perspective.

Time to learn to love what God loves most … people.

Time for our hearts to learn to break for what breaks God’s heart.

Time to experience the freedom that only comes through the Spirit and Truth.

To Mary and Martha, Jesus arrived 4 days too late. They wanted Him to be the great physician. But, Jesus delayed His arrival, so He could show them that He is the Resurrection and the Life!

One of the things I love most about this story, is that even though Jesus knew how the story would end, that Lazarus would be resurrected and reunited with his sisters, Jesus entered into  Mary and Martha’s anguish and sorrow. He wasn’t just grieved, He was overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, and He wept in anguish with Mary and Martha.

The Jesus who wept with Mary and Martha, is the same Jesus who today enters into our grief and sorrow. He grieves with us in our deepest losses. He anguishes with us when we are betrayed and rejected, or abandoned and feeling unloved and forgotten. He hears every cry, and He is near to us when our heart is breaking.

And make no mistake, even if He doesn’t immediately answer and come to our rescue, He is working behind the scenes in the supernatural so that when our answer does come, we will know that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that allowed us to emerge from the cocoon a new creation, transformed into the image of His glory, flying in freedom, spreading His fragrance to those who have not yet experienced the Resurrection and the Life.

I’m so thankful for the ministry of my dear friend, Liz Dickson with LoveUnVeiled. God has used Liz, and her  incredible ministry to bring supernatural healing and transformation to my life, as well as equip me to help other women experience this same healing and transformation. 

Dig deeper: John 11:1-44, Psalm 34:18, Ephesians 2:19, 2 Corinthians 1:20, Hebrews 13:5-6, Romans 8:28

2 thoughts on “When God doesn’t answer your prayers …

  1. Donna

    Absolutely amazing in every aspect of their story and your story beloved Shelly. You shine brilliantly for Jesus. As Babbi Mason would say, “you’re His favorite.”❤️

    Reply

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