By Diane Houghtaling
HOPE FOR THE DAY- What do we do with unanswered prayer? I don’t mean the times when we asked God for a nice day and it rained. I mean the big things that can alter our lives – the times when we have prayed and believed and hung on to God’s promises, and then it seems like God’s forgotten us. Years ago God showed me something that made a big difference in my perspective of why things happen the way they do. He said, “Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen the way you expected.” Many times when we pray, we have our own expectations of how we think God will answer. When it doesn’t happen the way we expected, we think God has not answered our prayers, when in reality He answered in the way He knew would be best for us. This leads to a whole range of emotions and much questioning. Disappointment overtakes us, and doubts rush in. We feel hurt and start thinking that maybe God doesn’t care. We feel betrayed, especially when we believe we are doing what God wants us to. Then the questions begin. “God, are you listening and do you even hear my prayers? Why didn’t you come through for me? Why did you allow this to happen? Don’t you care that I’m hurting? Why don’t you do something about it?” If disappointment takes root and we give it free reign, it will grow into discouragement, despair and full-blown depression. We will live under a cloud of hopelessness, feeling totally forsaken by God. But it doesn’t have to come to this if we remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways. (See Isaiah 55:9.) We look at things from our small perspective while He is looking at the big picture. God is not interested in giving us everything we ask for. He doesn’t spoil His children. Neither is His goal to make our lives as easy as possible and keep us from all pain and hardship. He knows what experiences we must go through to build character and strengthen our faith. Life is a journey, a process. All the parts that we would skip over may be the most important, because it is through those times that we learn and change and grow. So what do we do with unanswered prayer? We pray again, and ask God to show us His perspective. We need to ask the right questions. “God, what do you want me to learn from this? If you are not answering in the way I want, then what is best for me? Where do we go from here? God always answers our prayers, but many times not in the way we hope or expect. During those times we must not give in to disappointment and discouragement, but seek His perspective on what He desires to do through the circumstances. Hope Ministries is a Christian counseling center, and we are here to help. If you would like to speak confidentially with someone, call us at 845-482-5300.