Monday, June 15, 2015

When the Answer is No

"Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." -Luke 22:42

          Have you ever felt like your prayers weren't being answered? Like God wasn't hearing you, and your problems weren't being solved? Unfortunately, we cannot always have what we ask for, as some of the things we desire aren't good for us, for others, or sometimes not even possible. It's important that in these times, we don't begin to believe that God is ignoring our prayers, or start to lose faith. It's crucial that we don't begin to doubt God's ability to deliver us, or bring us comfort. But why do these things happen? Why is the answer so often "No", even when it's something we believe we need?

          The first reason the answer may be No, is because what we're asking for is not what we need, or what others need. In Luke 22, we read about Christ going and praying that the cup of His crucifixion to be passed from Him, if at all possible. Not because He didn't want to save us, but because, well, would you like to be crucified? Jesus spent His entire life here on earth, knowing that He was born so that He could die. He took on our sorrows so that we wouldn't have to keep them. He went through every temptation, according to Hebrews 4:15, and the most painful death imaginable. Now let me ask you something: Did God ever stop loving His Son? And at the same time, did God still allow Christ to die? And while that was hard, and while that was painful, is it not better for us that that happened? Is it not better for us that Christ died so that we don't have to experience hell? Yes, sometimes the answer isn't what we necessarily want it to be, but sometimes there is no other way, and it certainly doesn't mean that God doesn't love us. Sometimes you have to go through something that you really wish you didn't, but then you come out even better for it, and those around you are blessed because of it, as well.

          Another reason the answer may be No, is because you're simply asking the wrong question. Sometimes, as I have previously stated, we need to go through something for the greater good. Sometimes instead of saying, "Please let this end." we should say, "Please give me comfort." In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we see that Paul is struggling with a "thorn in the flesh", and once again He had prayed three times for it to go away, as Christ had prayed three times before His crucifixion, as we read in Luke 22. In regard to this thorn in the flesh, Paul states in verses 8-10 of 2 Corinthians 12, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with my weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, I am strong." In this passage, we see that Paul accepted that fact that his persecutions weren't going to go away, and instead of always being down about himself, he accepted it. He took it and used it to help him grow closer to Christ, rather than let it separate him from Christ. Whenever we realize that whatever we are going through is necessary for us, or for someone else, we need to pray that we find comfort in it. We need to pray that we don't allow ourselves to fall into temptation because of it, because God will always help deliver us from sin. 

          The final reason that we may not be able to have our problems solved, is because we're asking for something that simply can't happen. Yes, God can help us to some extent, but we have to remember that no matter what, we are humans, which means that we all have our own free will. God isn't going to just going to miraculously control people to do things because you're having a hard time. This is where we have to do some work. If you're having a rival with someone, show them the love of Christ. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:20) Sometimes we can't just hand everything over to God and expect all of our problems to be solved. We have to get up and do some work ourselves, sometimes! 

          Sometimes, things don't go according to our plans, but that's okay! Because as long as we are faithful until death, we will get to that sweet, heavenly rest for eternity. And these things here on earth that seem like such a huge deal now, won't even be a fraction of a second in comparison to eternity. So I would like to encourage you to remember that, and maybe, if you are going through something, ask a different question. If you're clearly going through something that you need to go through as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:7, then ask that you have the proper attitude towards it, and that you become strengthened in your weaknesses as he was. And lastly, I'd like to encourage you to never stop praying. No matter how wonderful things get, or how horrible they become, always pray. Tell God what's bothering you, and if the cup cannot be passed from you, then ask for comfort. And more than anything, never let it change your relationship with God for the worse.