When Prayers Aren't Answered
Sometimes the week just feels particularly long. I spend all week doing my best to keep my raging thoughts at bay, just below the surface to where I know they’re there, but I can’t feel their disturbance. But now, the end of the week has me strained from my efforts and I cannot try any longer. I am falling under the weight of their pressure, unable to stand and feel the joys of a new morning. Sometimes when I am able to remember the truth of this life and the reason why I am in the place I am in, I am able to continue my day joyfully. And other times, I don't allow the truth to soak. I hold the glass in my hand but I don't take a drink. And today has been that kind of day. I feel as though I'm walking through cement. I'm walking, I'm trying, but cement is heavy. My heart is heavy, my legs are heavy, today is heavy.
Even still, as I sit outside and wait for my class, the sun seems to be extra blue this morning, a gentle breeze brushes against my skin to keep me from feeling the heat of sun, the fountain outside of campus hums a peaceful melody as it’s water splashes around, and I see all kinds of different people on all kinds of different morning missions. Outside of my body, all of this that I see is all beautiful and harmonious. But inside of my body, the part of me that I cannot see but feel, is not beautiful and harmonious, but solemn and void of joy. How can I see beauty but not feel it? How can there be such an imbalance between what I know is true and what I feel?
Sometimes the circumstances in our life are out of our control. Actually, most of the circumstances in our life are that way; sometimes they just come in our favor. Unfortunately, most of the time they don't. Or at least for me they don't. I can think of so many circumstances that are far from my control, but I spend so much time worrying about them anyway. I can't change them, I can't make them better or worse, but I think about them night and day, in the morning and the evening.
Is it possible to control our thoughts in such a way? Yes, we can control our thoughts and reactions to any circumstance. It takes some effort, but it's entirely possible. But what about when we feel empty, not due to any particular circumstance, but just because on this day for whatever reason, the darkness overwhelms our mind and crushes our spirit. Can we control that? Is the feeling of depression something that is under my control? I cannot simply think it away because depression has come without invitation. Even still, depression is a state of mind, a feeling, and it comes and goes as with all other feelings. For some of us it always lurks in the shadow of our life, not always attacking our spirit, but always present. Even still, it is always a feeling, and feelings are not the truth. Truth does not come and go, but remains forever constant. My depression is not forever. When I am glad, I am not glad forever. Even I, as a human being, am not forever. So what is forever?
How can I understand how to live in Your truth despite feeling as though my world is shattered?
I have strained my brain out my ears attempting to understand this concept. I beg God for answers all day long. I pray, I watch sermons, I read and memorize His word; and even though Christ has blessed me with a desire for these things above all else, I receive no answer. Sometimes though I get so frustrated because I feel that God isn't answering my prayers even though I am seeking Him with my whole heart. How can I live in Your truth while my bones rot? Why are You allowing that?
I ask this over and over again.
And then, in the midst of a night of prayer, I got the most unlikely answer; but the perfect answer nonetheless.
"I know now Lord why you utter no answer. You yourself are the answer. Before your face questions die away. No other answer would suffice." - C.S. Lewis
There it is, the answer of all answers. Jesus Christ. The most simple answer, yet the most complex. When Jesus Christ becomes our answer, we no longer have to ask how? He died for you and I. We no longer have to ask why? It was the will of the Father. We no longer have to ask well what now? For goodness sake, I had already been seeking it! To no longer live as one conformed to the pattern of this world, but to live transformed, to live like Jesus Christ. There is no other answer, no other purpose, and no other comfort. It is so simple. We desire to live each like this is the truth, because it is. But it is also complex. When the day-by-day is dull, and when the moment-to-moment is unbearable, how do we live in that truth?
Well, one morning I was watching a sermon from John Piper on his website desiringgod.org (highly suggest you check it out) titled "The Strongest Comfort and Statement in Trials" in which he preached on how we can always be prepared to give reason for the hope that is in us, as stated in 1 Peter 3:15. He suggested that those in attendance (or listening) go through the entire book of 1 Peter and write down each purpose it gives us to have hope; and as I was doing that I was absolutely awakened and blown away by a few verses.
"For God called you to do good even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his footsteps. He never sinned, nor did he ever deceive anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepard, the guardian of your souls." - 1 Peter 2:21-25
Here is how to live in the dull and in the unbearable, and it can be our answer because Christ is the answer. Just a few verses say it all.
Each part of this scripture was so marvelous that I wanted nothing more than to spend my day diving deeper into the meaning. I decided to give my own personal application/thoughts to each part of the scripture, and write down correlating verses to give more wholesome application to my own life. God just amazed me with His word so much that morning, so I'm going to share with you the study I did on each verse:
-VS 21- Lord, I know that you have called me to do good,
- (Isaiah 1:17),
- (Proverbs 12:2)
- (Matthew 19:17)
-VS 21- event though I must now suffer
- (Hebrews 2:9)
- (Romans 8:18)
-VS 21- which I will endure because Christ loved me enough to suffer for me.
- (Hebrews 13:12)
- (1 Peter 4:1)
- (Philippians 3:8)
-VS 21- Jesus is my example, and I want to follow in His footsteps for as long as I am on this earth
- (John 13:14-15)
- (Psalm 27:4)
-VS 22- because He never sinned, which makes Him worthy
- (Psalm 18:3)
- (Colossians 1:10)
-VS 22- and he never deceived anyone. He was exactly who He said He was.
- (John 14:6)
- (James 1:23-24)
-VS 23- Jesus never retaliated insults,
- (Matthew 5:39)
-VS 23- nor did He ever threaten to pursue revenge against those that tortured Him.
- (Romans 12:19)
- (Leviticus 19:18)
- Proverbs 12:22)
- Matthew 5:38-45)
- (1 Peter 4:8)
-VS 23- Jesus left His life in the hands of God, accepting the will of the Father up to the point of His death on a cross
- (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- (Jeremiah 29:11)
- (Isaiah 43:18-19)
- (John 8:32)
- (1 Peter 5:7)
-VS 23- because Jesus knows that God is a fair judge.
- (Psalm 7:11)
- (James 4:12)
- (Psalm 50:4)
-VS 24- Jesus carried my sins for me, on His back Jesus took my sins out of unconditional love.
- (Psalm 55:22)
- (Isaiah 58:6)
- (Matthew 11:28-30)
- (Psalm 34:17)
-VS 24- By His wounds, I am freely healed
- (Isaiah 41:10)
- (Philippians 4:19)
- (Mark 5:34)
- (James 5:16)
-VS 25- Just a few years ago, I was a lost sheep.
- (Hebrews 11:16)
- (Acts 2:38)
- (John 8:24)
-VS 25- But Lord, You have changed my heart, and now I have found You, my Shepard.
- (Luke 19:10)
- (Luke 15:22-24)
- (Psalm 28:7)
-VS 25- You, O Lord, are the eternal and Holy Guardian of my soul.
- (Romans 8:38-39)
- (Hebrews 7:25)
If you want to live for Jesus, but are stuck in a place where your growth is stagnant, here are 15 different characteristics of our God to study and embody. It isn't about doing this and not doing that, or doing what she does and avoiding what he does. It's simply about being like Jesus; and when you decide you want to be like Him and you ask Him to change your heart, all other things will fall into place. It won't be all sunshine, there will be a lot of rain; but, it'll be SO worth it.
I pray that God uses these scriptures to awaken you as well. If He does, or if He awakened you in your own study, please comment and share your thoughts/prayers/experiences!