I want to talk about something that has been bothering me lately. Bothering mostly because I don’t know how to fix it or compartmentalize it. I have to force myself not to think about it because it will drive me in crazy mental circles. So I choose to ask questions instead.
How do we, as human beings made in the image of a loving God, handle unanswered prayers? Not even just unanswered prayer, so much as prayer we felt was answered, and we were wrong. Let me be more specific, because I’m not sure I’m being clear (shocking, I know!) I’m talking specifically about the blood, sweat, and tears petitions. When we have prayed and cried and pleaded over a situation (or person or decision) and suddenly feel — I mean really feel — that amazing peace and power and empowerment that comes with knowing that God has heard us through all the noise and distraction in life. We are certain that our prayer is being heard and answered and know with certainty that God has looked favorably on us and granted our desire. We glow, and beam, and radiate pure, unadulterated faith. We feel a physical peace that passes all understanding and an intimate friendship with Jesus. Cloud 9, nirvana, whatever you want to call it. But we’re wrong. Our desire hasn’t come true, healing hasn’t taken place, we are right where we started.
Only, maybe worse. Because in my own experience, I felt betrayed. Tricked. Like God gave me a glimpse of his glory and then took it away. It’s heart wrenching to believe something so fiercely and feel your faith soar to new heights only to be dashed back down again. It’s a low spot. It’s a vulnerable spot. I don’t do well with vulnerable, I’m way too prideful for vulnerable, and that makes the betrayal so much worse. How do we trust the certainty and peace we felt? The assurance that bloomed within us was entirely false?
Whats up with that? I can’t be the only one who has experienced this. How do we take that and learn from it? What really is to learn? In that moment I had more faith that I knew what to do with; more peace that I’d ever experienced; more certainty in my heart. How do I process that result? It feels to me like God can be a big playground bully pushing and shoving my faith and emotions around. Don’t get all crazy on me now, I know He’s not, Im just saying thats how i feel. And God’s not afraid of how I feel.
I don’t have the answer to this one. I can’t even begin to answer it because I’m still processing it myself and feel like I’m getting no answers. But I’ll ask, because my God is not afraid of my questions. He’s proud of them, I think, and I know He will rise to the occasion.
In the New Testament, the disciples were having problems casting a certain spirit out of a young boy. When Jesus came along, the boy’s father asked Jesus to help. I love what the boy’s father says to Jesus and especially the wording of the NIV: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NIV) I cling to this verse so many times because it shows the human complexities of believing in something, yet still doubting. Isn’t that what faith really is? Believing in something even though your doubts are raging against you. Believing despite all logic and uncertainty. Believing in the middle of a broken hallelujah. I guess we really only have two choices: have faith, or lose faith. Losing faith just isn’t something I’m ready to do, so I’ll keep on asking questions and waiting expectantly for God to show me what I need.