Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
High school was the first time I experienced seeing the pain of a mother losing her child. I could not imagine the weight of that tragedy or the heaviness of that burden; I still can’t. Even now… when I hear stories of prayers denied or heartbreak seeped in hope, I think of the grievances found in my own heart. For those prayers yet to be answered, or the times God has told me no, I wonder where my frustration leaves me with God. Have you ever wondered where it leaves you?
It’s not that we don’t believe God will, it’s just that we fear He won’t. That fear lingers inside of us because we’ve seen it and experienced it. Moreover, the Bible captures it, and we know – that “no” is still an option. When we experience these “no’s”, and the outcomes are painful, rarely is there an explanation that brings us the comfort we so desperately seek. It seems as though God didn’t provide when we were asked to believe that He would. These outcomes leave us with an uncomfortable question – what is God providing when we feel as though our needs aren’t being met?
The Hard Questions & the Harder Answers
It’s important to ask the hard questions, or the ones that might feel quite awkward. To ask what God is providing can feel ungrateful or sacrilegious in nature. Nevertheless, when the deepest desires of our hearts go unmet, we have to find a landing place that allows our mind to rest and reconnect with God. And it starts with understanding that our desires and God’s provisions are not necessarily the same. The gap between the two can drive us to the edges of our sanity. It’s hard to always understand why God will ask us to show up in ways that challenge our thinking and require us to maneuver through the weight of our burdens.
And yet He does. We have to accept that we may never know all of the answers in this lifetime for the situations that have occurred in our lives. Sometimes, there are no words of comfort. We cannot always explain a situation in a way that makes sense or brings about resolution. But God is still here. He sends the Holy Spirit to do for us what no one else can, and if we take a moment to look around and really see God, we realize that if we trust in what God will provide, we can make peace with what He does not.
What about my own actions?
There are times however, when as difficult as it may be, we have to recognize that we are the reason for the distance between our requests and God’s responses. If we take a look, for example, at the pre-cursor to the story of Gideon found in Judges 6:7-10, we can gain a better understanding of the impact on our own lives when we do not take accountability for our actions. We read:
And it came to pass, when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord because of the Midianites, that the Lord sent a prophet to the children of Israel, who said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of bondage; and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. Also I said to you, “I am the Lord your God; do not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.” But you have not obeyed My voice.’ ”
The Israelites didn’t have to be in a position where they were being attacked by the Midianites. God wanted to provide them with a good life, but their disobedience led them to tragedy. Such consequences remind us as to why it’s important that we do our part. We cannot expect for God to open up the windows of Heaven if we’re insistent on hanging onto the gates of hell. And to be clear, this isn’t about victim-shaming, but this is about the reality that we reap what we sow. So it’s critical to think about what we’re planting in our own hearts and in the lives of others. The world is filled with sin and chaos. We want to be sure that we aren’t unnecessarily adding to the difficulties that this life already has to offer.
God Knows Best
And so as we navigate through unforeseen circumstances and unprecedented times, we often hear the phrase – God knows best. Yes, He does, but we also need to accept that sometimes we don’t like “God’s best”. I don’t think there is a scripture that says we have to like everything that God allows to happen in our lives or be okay with when He chooses not to intervene on our behalf. For our own wellbeing and the strengthening of our relationship with God, it’s important to acknowledge our frustrations, as opposed to casting them aside. God created us to have emotions, and it’s okay to give ourselves the space to feel. It’s what we do next with those emotions, however, that matters the most. Will we respect God, or will we choose to fight against Him?
God Will Provide
When we give ourselves the space to feel, it’s possible to come to the conclusion that all is lost, because that is what you see and experience. I think back, however, to the story of the widow who encountered the prophet, Elijah – found in 1 Kings 17. She and her son were preparing to die from a lack of food due to the drought. Elijah performed a miracle by the hand of God, and the widow did not run out of flour or oil. Nevertheless, the widow’s son eventually became sick and died. I cannot fault her for being upset with Elijah – it would be a normal response. Elijah pleaded with God on behalf of this widow, and her son was raised from the dead.
Removing the Limits
Sometimes we feel as though all is lost because it is. This widow’s son died, but the beauty of God providing is that there are no limits to those provisions. Life will break, but the power of God will put it back together if we let Him. The outcomes may not look the way we expected, or they might be everything we imagined and more. Either way, God has the power to restore and renew. No situation is too dire for God to show up and provide if we allow Him the space to do so.
I once told my mom that sometimes people surprise us in the worst ways. She reminded me that sometimes people also surprise us in the best ways. She wanted me to remember that good can also come from unexpected places. And I think that is what God wants us to see. This world conditions us to be prepared for the bad, but life can also give us something beautiful. So next time, when you’re doubting God’s ability to provide, remember this scripture to leave a bit of inspiration on your mind, and the love of God in your heart:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.