The Wrong Answer

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We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26-28 (GNT)

What do you do when God gives you the worst possible answer? We had prayed for repentance, renewal, restoration – yet God has rained down death and destruction upon the children’s heads.

Why would God do that – if there really is even such a being as God of the Universe – a good and caring God? Why would He not tip the cup forward to overflow with the things He loves: justice and righteousness?

I am reminded of Abraham standing on the mountain, overlooking the plain towards Sodom. He had negotiated back and forth with God for the salvation of that city and his nephew Lot and his family. As the sun rose he stood at a distance to watch the fire fall and the city burn. (Genesis 19:27-30)

God had sent His angels to rescue Lot and his family out of the coming fire – yet even with their survival, that story continued to go nowhere good.

I am reminded of Joseph, naked on a long march to Egypt, as his father mistakenly mourned his death by wild animal. Joseph’s prayers certainly were not answered the way he hoped as he was stripped of his colorful coat and favorite son status and sold into the void by his own brothers. (Genesis 37:18-35)

And things were bound to get much worse along the way: accused of attempted rape by his employer’s wife he found himself condemned to years in a dark Egyptian dungeon. He certainly could have thrown his hope of a good God out the window - if only he could find one.

I am reminded of Mary and Martha praying for the healing of their brother Lazarus. They had all the faith in the world - certainly more than the required minimum of the mustard seed. Yet Jesus never showed up and Lazarus was now three days in the grave. (John 11:1-44)

Where do these prayers of ours go? These pinpoints of light piercing out into the darkness? Is there a mighty God out there who is in control? Or is it just a grown-up fairy tale we’ve invented to make ourselves feel better?

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I am reminded of my mother, still in her 20’s with two young daughters, struggling with the heartbreak of God’s wrong answer to her prayers. Her husband, the love of her life, would not be coming back from Korea. His plane went down. There was no sign of survivors. She continued to pray, yet her hope dimmed a little more with each passing night.

She dabbed at ‘paint-by-number’ landscapes in the long hours between dusk and dawn; she kept waiting, hoping, praying he would find his way back and walk through her door. He did not.

Did she close the window to hope and follow the path of Lot to a small dark cave? Did she bang on the chest of Jesus with clenched fist when he finally showed up, begging to know, “Where were you? You could have saved him?”

She told me she thought of killing herself, her sorrow and grief was so great. But God threw her a lifeline in those two brown-eyed girls safely sleeping in the next room. She had no choice but to live and raise those daughters of the husband, the father who would never come home.

She chose to cling to life. She chose to believe that God still walked with her. She chose tomorrow and its requirement to trust that God is good and God is in control – even when He has given you the hardest answer.

And because of my mother, and her decision of trust, I hold firmly to that truth. My God is good. He is working all things together. I will trust in Him – especially when he gives me the wrong answer.

In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will. We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26-28 (GNT)

Questions: What do you do when God seems to not hear you? What do you do when God allows the ‘wrong thing’ to happen? Can you respond, “It is well with my soul.”?

Music:Thy Will - Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

Music: Even If – MercyMe

I know you’re able and I know you can

Save through the fire with your mighty hand

But even if you don’t My hope is you alone

I know the sorrow and I know the hurt

Would all go away if you’d just say the word

But even if you don’t My hope is you alone.

© 2017 MercyMe

Good News Translation (GNT)  Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

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