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Unanswered Prayers Are They God's Gift An Excuse To Forsake God?
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They waited several years for a child. Then God blessed them with a lovely child. Seven years later, the child fell ill.
The parents prayed desperately as if their life hinged on this one particular event – the survival of their most loved one.
The child died.
The parents were inconsolable. Their sorrow knew no bounds.
Their prayers were unanswered.
Then when we listen to the song
by Garth Brooks, we hear that unanswered prayers are a gift from God. The chorus reads:
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
And just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
If you do not marry the girl you desperately prayed for, and if the girl you married is better than the girl you once prayed for, then the unanswered prayer is indeed God’s gift.
But this is not a universal principle.
Not all unanswered prayers are God’s gifts.
The child you adored died. What if God did not bless you with another child? What if you remained childless?
Could you then consider the unanswered prayer as a gift?
Or you may have been blessed with a beautiful girl and you pray for her marriage. When she’s at a marriageable age, she is brutally raped and unimaginably injured. Despite prayers, after days of hospitalization, she dies.
How is this unanswered prayer a gift from God?
Don’t get me wrong. There are various occasions wherein unanswered prayers are indeed a gift from God.
But I zealously oppose the notion that
unanswered prayers are a gift from God.
In a couple of instances mentioned above and in the many other horrendous acts of evil perpetrated upon humanity, one cannot fathom unanswered prayers to be a gift from God. So
there are many instances wherein unanswered prayers cannot be considered as God’s gifts.
In an erstwhile blog, I wrote:
Unanswered Prayers Are A Biblical Reality
Job pleaded, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30: 20-22, NIV).
Some faithful and well meaning Christians would contend the reality of unanswered prayers. They would argue that although Job suffered immensely, he was blessed mightily. The same holds true for King David as well (cf. Psalm 22: 1-2).
The same Bible that narrates the blessing of Job and King David also narrates the incomparable suffering of God’s people. In other words, the Bible implies God’s silence when HIS people were suffering, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11: 35b-38, NIV).
These verses reveal God’s silence to those who were faithful to HIM. Even when the faithful cried out to God, HE remained silent.
Thank God for poets who so wonderfully articulate these moments of despair,1
"It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God."
(Andrew Peterson in “The Silence of God.”)
Why are unanswered prayers not an excuse to forsake God?
In that very blog, I wrote:
Is Renouncing God A Better Option?
Many have renounced Christianity because God did not answer their prayers. To renounce Christianity is one option when God does not answer prayers…
Consider the option of renouncing God. What would happen to those renouncing God? Do they get a better God? No way! There is only one God, and that’s it.
Forsaking God could depict us as spiritually immature believers, for we may have forgotten the basics of our belief in the God of the Bible:
1. We believe in the God of the Bible because HE alone saves us from eternal death to life.
2. As Christians, we profess a consummate commitment to God over man - even family or our own life (cf. Matthew 10: 34-38).
3. As Christians, we primarily seek the spiritual and not the material aspects of this world (cf. Matthew 6: 33, 22: 36 - 38).
If we have properly understood the basics of our belief in Christ, then we would not forsake God even when we suffer a loss of our loved ones or our possessions or even when our own life is threatened.
Our response to any of these situations would resonate with that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king.
But even if he doesn’t
, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”” (Daniel 3: 16-18, MSG; Emphasis Mine).
But there could be complicated scenarios. Consider the fervent prayers for our loved ones to believe in Christ and be saved.
What if our loved ones die without believing in Christ? Would this situation of unanswered prayer justify forsaking the God of the Bible?
Our prayer, in this very instance, does not focus on the material, but the spiritual – the eternal life for our loved ones.
How do we respond to a situation where our loved ones remain as unbelievers until their very last breath?
It’s God who is sovereign, good, gracious and just. HE would never turn away anyone who seeks HIM (John 6: 37). God’s sovereignty, goodness, and justice entails that HE would do everything that needs to be done to bring anyone to HIM – that includes our loved ones as well.
God, despite our fervent prayers, will not force anyone to believe in HIM
, ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”” (Matthew 23: 37 – 39, NET).
This is the hard truth or the bitter pill that we need to swallow.
Whatever be the case, unanswered prayers are not a legitimate reason to forsake God.
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