Unanswered Prayer

This morning I woke up sad. Nothing dramatic happened. No life-altering news had been delivered.  In fact, before going to bed last night we received good news about our next grandchild.

Still I woke up with the question, “How do I have joy when it seems that so much is unsettled, unresolved, and unrestored in my life, my relationships, my world?” I cannot list publicly all the relationships that need mending, the problems that feel overwhelming and unresolvable. I can’t a name to the general anxiety that creeps in regularly from life in this volatile world. Like a cloud that keeps building till it blocks out the sun, I’m feeling chilled in the shadows, even on this bright sunny day.

After fixing my coffee I settled on the couch with my Bible. A question in my Bible study material asked me to read Daniel 10, which says, “I, Daniel, had been mourning for three entire weeks.” This was not a man given to exaggeration, so he made it clear it was not parts of three weeks but every day for 21 straight days. Nor was Daniel an ordinary man, for he was repeatedly titled “man of high esteem” in his frequent interactions with angelic beings. Mistakenly we think a visit by an angel would be thrilling and life-giving. Daniel found it exhausting and life draining.

What seems to have caused his three weeks of mourning was unanswered prayer. Visions of the future and visits from heaven did not erase his sadness over unanswered prayer. Burdened, perplexed, joyless. Feeling what Daniel felt is of comfort. At least I’m not alone. 

When God doesn’t come through, then what? That’s the shadow casting sadness for me right now.  And nothing can be done but wait. 

Living for Jesus is costly business. How easily I forget that following Him is a life of difficulty as He helps me throw off those distractions, mistaken assumptions and sinful patterns that keep me from seeing Him clearly.

I became all His decades ago, but His refining work never ceases. Rather than getting easier the faith trials become more difficult with time. Baby steps for babies. Grown-up strides for the mature. I want to be mature so I must accept His purifying work that is individualized for me even when I can’t see the next step ahead.

I’ve been in this place before so I know He will continue His work until He pleases to pause. The sun will shine again. And if the answers to my prayers don’t come at all or as I expected I will choose to believe and follow. Jesus loves me, this I know. And that is all that matters.

A prayer for you and me from 1916: “Cause Thy face to shine upon the dark places through which we may be called to pass this day and may we be made to feel that it is better to hold on to Thy hand in the dark than to walk alone in the light.”

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