When God doesn’t answer your prayers (the way you hoped he would)

As our family started talking about a summer vacation, we had one thing in mind: the blue-green water and flourlike sand of the Caribbean. That is, until I looked into pricing. It quickly became apparent that a Caribbean vacation for six was not in the Swenson budget. 

So with less than a month before takeoff, I googled flights, looked at the U.S. map, and booked the cheapest flights. Turns out Seattle and the Oregon coast are about the furthest thing from the Caribbean. Highs should be about 70 degrees, and the Oregon coast is not for swimming. In fact, one website said something to the effect that people don’t go to the beach to swim or sunbathe. They go to see the cliffs and the harsh conditions and how bad the storms will be. That’s a fun statement to read to kids who voted for a beach vacation. 

Don’t get me wrong. We’re all excited. Vacations are a luxury. We’re overwhelmed by how much there is to see and how little we will be able to fit in. But it really got me thinking about prayer, particularly when you pray for the Caribbean and God blesses you with Oregon. 

Here’s the thing. We could go to the Caribbean. We could max out a credit card and spend months or years paying it off little by little. Or we could live with the income we’ve been given and be content with that.

When your significant other doesn’t pop the question, you could move in with him or her, hoping that will move things along. Or you could wait and determine if this person really cares about the things of God and let that guide your heart. 

You could take the job that will make your financial life considerably more comfortable, knowing it’ll also impact the amount of time you’ll be able to give to family and the church. Or you could keep working for the Lord, knowing your needs will always be met and God will provide your daily bread one day at a time. 

You could make sports or some other activity your family’s main priority, or you could keep them as pastimes and make seeking and serving God your family’s goal. 

God looks at our hearts. Second Chronicles 32:31 tells us, “But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask [Hezekiah] about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart” (emphasis mine).

How we react to prayers God doesn’t answer our way tells him a lot about where our hearts stand. Are we content? Are we willing to stay the course and do things God’s way even if we have to give something up (the guy, the job, the beach vacation)?

And this matters because 2 Chronicles 16:9 says, “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” When God sees we are committed to him even when we don’t get the desires of our hearts, he strengthens us and gives us all we need to keep going. 

Consider that the next time God doesn’t give you what you want. Maybe he’s just seeing what it is you really crave.

Amber Albee Swenson is a writer, speaker, and blogger. Her husband and four children keep life exciting and give her lots to write and pray about. Mother, wife, and author are treasured positions, but child of God is her identity.

 

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