“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Over the last several years, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and felt so overwhelmed by the disappointment of my deepest cries and urgent prayers feeling unheard by God. When my mind is racing through all the worst-case scenarios at 2 a.m. … I feel utterly alone.
We all have our own 2-a.m. moments like these. It seems we are all carrying a bit of sorrow or frustration or heaviness these days …
We have prayer requests we want Him to answer.
We have financial needs we want Him to fill.
We have health crises we want His healing in.
We have complicated family relationships we want His intervention in.
We have unmet desires and longings we want Him to satisfy.
When our ever-growing list of needs is seemingly unmet, it is so easy to turn to God and make all kinds of suggestions for getting what we think is best. Then we try to hold God accountable to doing what we want Him to do. When it feels like He isn’t coming through for us, we can start to become skeptical and distrusting, not just of His activity in our lives but of His character.
If God loved me, wouldn’t He do this?
Too many times when we pray, we establish an outcome we expect God to achieve. While it’s true we can come to Him in complete faith and boldness and ask for anything in His name, it's also tempting for us to become very attached to outcomes of our own making.
What the answered prayer should look like …
The timing of when our answers should come …
The order of steps God should follow chronologically …
It’s so easy to look at our answered (or unanswered) prayers as evidence of whether God really cares about us. But in reality, prayer should be the very thing that releases us from carrying the weight of outcomes. No human should have to carry the weight of being their own god, figuring all of this out.
We must remember God’s definition of good and His timing of good is so much better and more complete than ours. Paul tells us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Whatever is passed to us through God’s hands will turn out for eventual good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it in those 2-a.m. moments where we feel so very alone. All our prayers may not be answered in the way we hope, ask or desire. But we can trust God is always consistent with His character and with His nature.
I know this is hard. So let me be the one to lean in and whisper these words to your heart today: God is working things out. He’s not far away. He is right here with us. We need to cling to this hope. Believe this hope. Live out this hope. Right here and right now. Even if our prayers aren’t answered in the way and the timing we want. Even when this process feels messy. We can trust that God is good and His love for us is secure.
Dear Lord, I trust in Your plan and Your absolute love for me. When my circumstances threaten to make me question and doubt, I will choose to declare Truth instead. You are for me, and You are with me, and You have goodness in store for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 86:5-7, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” (NIV)
What requests have you been making of the Lord? How do you process disappointments when He doesn’t seem to be following your exact plan? Take some time to speak today’s prayer out loud over yourself to remind your heart of His faithfulness. And share your thoughts with us in the comments!
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