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By Rachael Woodard
"Mom, why is it that it seems that God never answers my prayers?" queried my 11-year-old, recently. He had come meandering out to where I was seated at my computer, pecking away at an e-mail long after I thought he was sound asleep.
Tears were filling his eyes and I realized that he was truly burdened about something.
Boy, talk about a difficult question to answer! The impatience of youth and, consequently, the expectations of immediate answers were two vital things to remember when dealing with this touchy issue with my pre-teen.
It seems that my son was going through a period of doubting God's ability to even hear us, much less answer our prayers.
First of all, I assured him that he was perfectly normal to think this way and that we all (if we're brutally honest with ourselves), have had these seemingly heretical thoughts!
Talk about a teachable moment! I prayed as I dealt with each of his questions and assured him that truly there was a God in heaven, who does care for us!
I shared with him from Scripture as well as from nature itself, the proofs that there is a God. I encouraged him to continue to pray. I realize now that it probably was no comfort to him, but I also pointed out that some prayers are only answered after years of praying, and sometimes we never even know when God answers some of our prayers. Others he simply chooses to answer with a simple, "No."
My heart was heavy for my young son, but thankful that he was willing to come to me with such a question, instead of seeking advice from friends or other adults! The crux of the issue that Andy was dealing with at that moment was whether he could truly TRUST God!
It's easy to trust God and to claim to be a Christian when everything is going well--when life is fun and seemingly "smooth." However, life isn't always like that. Even the most cautious, careful and conscientious Christian will have difficult times in his life. Undoubtedly, there will be times when God seems far away, when He doesn't seem to hear or answer our prayers .and frankly, even times when it just doesn't seem that you can trust the LORD.
I love what Joseph, the Old Testament character who was sold into slavery by his brothers, said in Gen. 50:20. He was speaking to his siblings when he stated, "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; for God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive." (KJV) He had clearly credited God with all of the events of his life that had preceded that day. In Gen. 45:8 he states, "So now it was not you that sent me here, but God:" (KJV).
Thinking back to the dreadful events that had taken place in Joseph's life: going from being the favored son in Jacob's household, to tossed into a pit, to being falsely accused at Potiphar's house, to jail, and then, ultimately, to second-in-command of Egypt, one must realize that if ANYONE knew what it meant to trust God, then Joseph must have been it!
I wonder how old his mother, Rachel, was when she died giving birth to Benjamin. I wonder how much influence she had on Joseph and his tremendous trust in God through these horribly difficult times that he had in his life? He must have been quite young when his mother died, yet the training he had was quite apparent, as evidenced later in his life.
Can you even imagine being stuck in a primitive prison--very much unlike our modern jails--for TWO long years while he waited for the butler to remember to give Pharoah his message and to plead for his release? He never strayed from his good attitude, as was demonstrated by the fact that he was put in charge of the other prisoners. It must have taken an upbringing and a trust in God that I doubt that I possess.
It hasn't been too long since I had to tell my children about a terrible event that was to affect our family's lives and our ministry. As I spoke, tears flowed freely down my face. I didn't hesitate to share with my children that I had no idea what God was doing, but that we absolutely HAD to trust the fact that God, by nature, is GOOD, and that we must cling to that fact during these dark days. That was over two years ago. I trust that the darkest days are over now, though, I would not be honest if I didn't admit that I still do not like what happened.
If you doubt whether God can be trusted, I challenge you to take another look at Psalm 31:15: "My times are in thy hand " (KJV). The Psalmist reminds us regularly in his writings that the LORD is in control!
He is working things out for His own glory, using circumstances in our lives and in the lives of those around us. It's not luck or fate as some would call it, but rather, God, working out His will in our lives for His glory.
Many of the events that have happened in my life have been unpleasant. However, I know that the LORD wants to take the unpleasant things and turn them into good things.
We serve a GOOD God a loving God .One who seeks the best for us, so that He can receive the glory! Strive to remember this today when the phone rings right when you're mopping the floor when the car won't start after you've been grocery shopping when the kids get sick all over your carpet .when you misplace your keys, making you late to a meeting God is using these events to alter your life and to work out His will through us! Thank Him for it!
Now, go and have a good one! Remember that we serve an omnipotent, awe-inspiring God!