Unanswered Prayers.

 

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I had the good fortune this week to have the opportunity to talk with a friend and fellow coach about trusting God.  Her honesty was refreshing and both of us acknowledged how difficult it can be to trust God in the face of unanswered prayers. Now I am mature enough to know the God is not a “spiritual Santa Clause” so I’m not talking about prayers that involve frivolous requests.  ” I pray I get a parking place.”, I pray I win a trip”, or I pray I can get a new, fancy car”.  No, I am talking about prayers for a friend that has cancer; who passes away.  I’m thinking about those who pray to become parents; remaining childless. Or the prayers of protection those who have beloved children pray; only to lose their children long before their lives have been lived.  How do we navigate continuing to trust what God’s word clearly tells us:

Luke 11:9 says “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

I believe these promises are true and have experienced God’s faithfulness over and over again!  But, I have also walked through the darkness of prayers that were prayed with absolute faith yet have remained unanswered.  How do we remain faith filled?  How to we keep ourselves from feeling as though God is distant and unfeeling?  How do we protect ourselves from becoming angry and disillusioned?   In the movie God’s Not Dead, the college professor makes a profound statement; ” The biggest atheists are those were had been believers and experienced unanswered prayers”.

Have you experienced unanswered prayer?  How have you kept yourself faith filled in the midst of the disappointment?

Three years ago, I had a precious family members life taken brutally at a young age.  I had prayed for him all his life.  I had seen God do mighty things in and with his life.  He was amazingly talented and deeply loving.  Upon the news of his death I spent almost 90 days angry at God, seeking understanding with the knowledge that God “could” have stepped in and protected him from losing his life.  I was devastated and confused by the scriptures that had once given me comfort.  Those verses now served to cause greater hurt.

God is good.  His shoulders were big enough for my questions; even my anger.  In His still small voice He just kept reminding me that He would help me through the pain. He would never leave me nor forsake me. He spoke the truth that His ways are higher than my ways.  And slowly, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I could feel myself beginning to whisper   “Even so, I will trust you.”

I couldn’t even begin to give you a formula for navigating this particular spiritual challenge, but there are a few action steps that will help keep your heart from becoming bitter.

1.  Stay in God’s Word, it speaks to your soul.

2.  Be brave to talk about your questions, don’t isolate.

3.  Make sure you continue to look at your many blessings, even in the midst of unanswered prayer.

4.  Be willing to learn something fresh from what you are having to walk through.

5.  Remember, loss and challenge falls on the just and the unjust.  It is part of our human condition and can help you gain keen empathy that will enable you to love and support others along the way.

Steven Arterburn in his article , When Prayers seem Unanswered says;

It certainly seems like a secure bet that sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers because he’s aware that his, ours, and the whole world’s best interests will not be served if he does. It’s safe to say that when God decides what’s best, he’s got a broader perspective for making that decision than anything we can bring to the table.

All of which brings us to the very good reason that when mature Christians do pray for something, they tend not to say, “God, please do [such and such],” but rather, “God, if it is your will, please do [such and such].” This is the all-important caveat. Always leave to him the final determination of whether or not what you’re asking for is, in fact, the thing most ultimately beneficial.

We all want to live a life trusting the Lord. However, life can broadside us.  Rather than pulling away, becoming angry, and perhaps even bitter, choose to remember God’s heart for you and I. Find yourself whispering “Even so, I will trust you.”

 

 

Pink Shirts and Blue Caps~~

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As far as my eye could see, stretched out in every direction, I saw a sea of “pink”!  Pink shirts, hats, shoes, & even tutu’s!  Young children with the imprint of their pillows still showing on their faces, folks with dogs covered in pink bows, and senior citizens who were being brought to the starting gate in wheelchairs. Large and small company’s alike gathered with their co-workers after a long week of work on a day that could have been spent sleeping in, or some other rest-filled choice.

Why would they come?

I arrived on the scene at 6:30 in the morning only to find that there were volunteers already preparing to serve and care for all who would be attending. Blurry eyed individuals holding cups of Starbucks coffee as they kindly smiled at one another with anticipation for the morning ahead!

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Why would they come?

There are many fantastic fundraisers that take place every year in our town; they are well attended every time. 5k’s for Diabetes, ALS, and as in this case Breast Cancer. We could all simply write a check to raise the finances. But why do we come?

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I believe there are many reasons we volunteer to be a part of these events.

1. Relationships: We have people we love and some we have lost to these diseases. These events help us heal, help us remember, and help us do something tangible that we feel gives honor to those who have suffered bravely. 80% of the runners had a pink paper attached to their running numbers, this sheet was filled with the names of Friends and loved ones! It was incredibly moving to read the names and to think about the impact those lives had on each runner!

2. Legacy: We all want to be a part of a passionate group of people who want to make a difference in the world. It is incredibly inspiring to stand shoulder to shoulder with others who want to have impact on key issues and diseases in our world. It helps us to focus on the “bigger picture” and allows us time to get our eyes off our own challenges. It helps give us perspective.

3.  We DO want to raise finances for on-going research. We do hope that the next generation will suffer less as we find answers!!

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Right before our run began, the event creator (a breast cancer survivor) asked all who were also Cancer survivors and wearing the Blue caps to remain standing.  She asked that the rest of us would bend a knee to the ground to honor our brave sisters. It was very emotional to look around at the multitude of precious faces who had faced the uncertainty of what Cancer might mean for them; for their families.

We all have opportunities to be a part of those facing challenges. The events, create a collective opportunity and each day we have the opportunity to step out of our busy life and “volunteer” to stand with those in challenge.  We can do it out of relationship, for legacy, as well as help to create change!

Just do it!! 🙂 Your life will be richer for it!!