Though our family has not yet been hit by sickness, deep suffering, loneliness, or financial hardship during this pandemic, we have, along with many others, experienced disappointment. The most recent disappointment came with the news that Camp Perkins, the kids’ highlight every summer, would not be able to host traditional youth camp this season. Although we were expecting this, we had been praying and hoping there may be a way the kids could still go.
The day we found out about the suspension of camp, I was talking with my daughter Taylor, who had been faithfully praying it would not be cancelled. She couldn’t understand why God hadn’t answered her prayers. I could relate to her confusion, as I have wondered the same thing many times during this pandemic as well as in other troubled times in my life. I pray for something I feel is a good thing, but it seems God isn’t answering, or at least not in the timeline I would want or the way I have requested.
In moments like these, I have been comforted by the truth in a quote of Timothy Keller’s. I used the quote to comfort Taylor and hope it may bring comfort to you as well. God doesn’t always answer our prayers exactly the way we pray them, rather “God answers our prayers exactly the way we would have prayed them if we knew everything He knows.” Our God can see it all--the present and future! He can see everyone, and He knows how this virus will affect each of our lives. He knows the pain, frustration, and suffering each person will experience, but He also knows the good that will come from it. It is not out of cruelty or lack of care that He hasn’t brought about its end, but rather out of His love for us that He allows it to continue.
I recently had an experience that gave me a personal glimpse of this truth. Due to a combination of concerning signs, we decided to take Taylor in for a health checkup and a blood draw. She HATES needles and has a great deal of anxiety every time we need to get shots. She had never had a blood draw before and was very anxious. I too was anxious, not knowing how I could help her get through not only the initial poke but having to have the needle stay in for the draw. When it was time, her flight and fight instincts kicked in, and I needed to help the nurses hold her down. As a mother who loves her child and hates to see her in pain or fear, my heart broke--having to restrain her from escaping the needle as I stared into her tear filled eyes and listened to her pleading for me to let her go. But I knew letting her go would not be what was best for her. This blood draw needed to happen. So, I held her hand, prayed for her, spoke words of love, comfort, and encouragement, and eagerly awaited the ordeal to be over. We made it through, praise the Lord!
Reflecting on the incident, I realized my thoughts and feelings during that doctor visit must be similar to the Lord’s. He knows we need something, but He also knows the fear, anxiety, and pain it will take to get what we need. Often that fear, anxiety, or pain causes us to cry out for relief or escape, but the Lord knows the future and knows we need this for our good and growth. So, out of His love and care for us, He holds us down. Just as I hated watching Taylor suffer, He hates watching us suffer. And, just as I was standing by Taylor as she went through it, He is standing by us--holding our hands, praying for us, comforting us, speaking words of love and encouragement over us, weeping with us, and eagerly awaiting our pain to be over and the good to be accomplished.
If you are doubting God’s love for you in this season or wondering at why He hasn’t answered your prayers, I hope you will be encouraged by this picture of His love and by the truth that He is near, answering your prayers in just the way you would want them answered if you knew all He knows.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
By Katie Miller
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