Faith Beyond Unanswered Prayers
By: Pastor Martin Perez
December 29, 2023
“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, Lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him”; Lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”
This year, for the first time in my ministry, I have experienced a certain disappointment. I feel bad for many reasons, but mainly because I had hope–and it seemed that things were getting better–but a prayer for healing was not answered.
It crushed me, but nowhere near the same degree of pain and loss for the family, on whose behalf I prayed. I know, logically, that I am bound to experience this the longer I am in ministry, but it’s still not easy. I had to process the disappointment and the loss. Her face will forever be etched in my heart.
The Lord seemed to ask me in the midst of my experience, “Are you still going to believe in Me?” “Are you going to believe that I am able?” “Am I only good when I give you what you want?” The questions echoed in my mind and resonated down towards my heart. This experience was calling me to choose. The disappointment was urging me to decide if I would hold on in faith or allow it to weaken my connection with God.
The psalmist chose to comfort himself with the memories of God’s goodness and compassion.
Martha and Mary come to mind as well. They petitioned Jesus to come and heal their terminally ill brother, but He tarried. He waited until after Lazarus died to show up. The sisters were understandably distraught with the loss of their beloved brother. Maybe too distracted by their loss and the idea of what could have been that they failed to realize when Jesus had arrived. They could not grasp the significance of Jesus’ presence at that precise moment through their disappointment and regrets. They would soon see something huge happen.
But Jesus indeed had arrived. Jesus, the source of life; Jesus, the author of faith; Jesus, the creator of man; Jesus, the almighty redeemer, King of Kings was there! As the words left His lips, pregnant with the power of life, a power surged in the spiritual realm. Slowly, the now three-day-lifeless body began to move, and in obedience, Lazarus stood and came forth to present himself before the Saviour.
We look back at this story as one of the greatest demonstrations of Jesus’ godhood. But in that moment, Martha and Mary did not recognize its significance. In that moment, they were challenged to trust Jesus despite their frustration ad disappointment in His tardiness.
My brother and sister, I do not know what disappointment or loss or pain you experienced this year. I do not have answers to your why. But I do know this. We have an amazing God in heaven that cares very much about your pain and loss. My brother, my sister, I do not know what unanswered prayers you will experience this coming year but I urge you, do not give up. Do not give in to the temptation to give up on God because He has, seemingly, failed you in the moment.
My dear brother and sister, God has not failed you. He has not left you to suffer in your pain alone. He is there, holding you. Keep holding on in faith. Keep trusting through the pain. Resist the temptation to be a good-time Christian. He is faithful, He will have answers for you on the other side, but you gotta keep holding on.
One day, we are promised, we will see things clearly, face-to-face with our Lord. We will know the why then. But until then, trust. Remember how God has been good to you in the past. Remember that He is still faithful to you, even now! You, too, may see what Martha and Mary saw: the power of the resurrection, the power of Life – eternal Life in Jesus!
May the Lord bless you this coming year, keep holding on no matter what!