Why does God let good people suffer? If He loved us, wouldn't He always say yes to our prayers? This post will help you understand why yes isn't always what's best.

How to View Unanswered Prayers

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The stiff sheets crinkled under us as the sterile smells of the hospital room filled our noses. My 5-year-old son, Cooper, was three years into his battle with cancer. All the IV medication he received had come through an implanted IV device called a port, and today that device wasn’t working.

We’d been in the ER for five hours already, trying everything to coax it back into action, but nothing was working. Moments before, the nurse had pushed our last chance — the medical equivalent of drain cleaner — into the tubing. Now we were in a holding pattern, waiting the necessary two hours to see if it would do the job, praying that it would.

We only needed the port for two more cancer treatments — TWO!

How could it give out on us now when we were so close?

Why does God let good people suffer? If He loved us, wouldn't He always say yes to our prayers? This post will help you understand why yes isn't always what's best.

Cooper and his 8-year-old brother, Anthony, sat on the bed zoning out to their ipad. My husband was beside me reading the news on his phone, and I had a book laying open in my lap.

With resolve, I snapped the book shut and said,  “Okay people, let’s pray.”

Hearing the determined tone of my voice, they didn’t bother to argue as they each set down their devices and gathered on the hospital bed bowing their heads.

Starting with Cooper, the youngest, we went around one by one sending up our pleas that the port would work.

The boys prayers were simple and pure. Justin’s was to the point, and mine more detailed but all laced with frustration. We’d given our entire day to getting this port to work, and this medicine was our last ditch effort. If it didn’t work, nothing would. The port would be dead two treatments before the end.

As we mumbled “amen,” we all went back to our distractions. In another situation you would call them entertainment, but here in the ER with these hard chairs beneath us and worry floating in the air, they were distractions.

Eventually our nurse walked in with the necessary supplies in her hand. It was the moment of truth. I imagined the blood returning as she pulled back on the syringe. I reminded myself of all the medical steps we had taken and how much we had prayed.

God’s eye was on this. If it didn’t work, then surely that was His Will. Could I figure out a way to respect that?

Again and again she pulled back on the syringe, but still nothing. Cooper kept watching his ipad with no clue what was happening – what this would mean for him. Extra surgery. Extra pokes and hurts for my little boy who had already braved so much.

My heart sank.

The doctor came in to tell us we’d need to wait two days to find out what was next. It would be up to Cooper’s oncologist. Once again our schedule, our future, and our child’s health were all in someone else’s hands. We had no control.

But God did. Didn’t he?

My husband and I rode the two hours home mostly in silence. We were too sad, frustrated, and exhausted to talk. No other subject seemed to hold importance, and we were sick of talking about the one subject we couldn’t stop thinking about. What’s next?

Fields raced by out my window. In a few months they’d be lush and green, but right now they were bare.

I thought about the story I told in my book Forty Days of God healing Cooper. And I wondered how other moms felt when they read it. Other moms who’d pleaded just as hard for the healing — for the life — of their child. Other moms who’d been told no. Whose arms were empty.

And I felt the sting of God’s “no” as my heart ached for them.

It’s hard to take.

It’s hard to align our will to His — to keep bravely proclaiming that God works for the good of those who love Him — when sometimes it just plain doesn’t feel like it.

Finally we made it home. It was late. Time to put the boys to bed. As I tucked in my oldest son, he said, “Mom, can I talk to you about something?”

I was exhausted, but this is how he starts his important conversations with me, so I smiled and said, “Sure.”

“Well when you guys always boss me around and tell me ‘do this, do that’ it feels like you don’t’ really care about me.”

He went on explaining in detail how he was feeling and giving examples. Then he paused. It was my turn to talk, and he was waiting for some words of wisdom or at least an explanation.

With a deep sigh I said, “Well, honey, it’d be a lot easier to always let you do what you wanted — to always say yes. But we love you too much to do that. We want you to be the best you can and live a good, happy life. So we have to tell you no sometimes.”

As I walked down the steps a few moments later, it struck me that I was feeling exactly the same way my son was. It honestly felt like my Heavenly Father didn’t really care about me or love me. He’d told me no when He could have easily said yes. What kind of a loving Father does that?

But from a parent’s perspective, I was reminded that a loving parent does say no sometimes.

Maybe that was the answer — the logic behind why a loving God sometimes says no.

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26 responses on “How to View Unanswered Prayers

  1. Beverly

    My heart breaks for you. I was so blessed to have had healthy children and I often wondered what I would do if they would have been taken from me. I can’t imagine how you must feel. Your faith will no doubt be your strength. I will keep you in my prayers. He is such an adorable little boy, I pray God will allow him to heal and take care of your family.
    God bless,
    Bev

  2. tiffany

    Thank you for sharing. Praying for you mama. Praying God opens your eyes to something beautiful the comes from this. Praying that your heart would be full and your hands would be open to whatever he has so carefully chosen for you, his sweet child. Many prayers to your family. Isaiah 41:10

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Thank you, Tiffany, you are making me tear up with your sweet words! God has already brought so many blessings from this hardship.

  3. Tiffany Parry

    “It’s hard to align our will to His — to keep bravely proclaiming that God works for the good of those who love Him — when sometimes it just plain doesn’t feel like it.” Oh, yes – it can be so hard to believe when everything we see feels so contrary. So grateful that we have a God who keeps His promises beyond what our sight and finite minds can comprehend. Always so blessed by your stories of faith and healing. Stopping by from the #raralinkup.

    1. Genuflected Post author

      So glad you are a part of the Genuflected community, Tiffany! He does keep His promises in that all encompassing, eternal way.

  4. Anita Ojeda

    I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with ‘no’ and questions and cancer and all that yuck. There’s growth in the no for us, just as there is growth in our no to our children. May God continue to bless your family and your growth!

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Oh, Anita, you are always full of wise words! Absolutely. With this “no” He has already taught me so much. His ways always seem to surprise me.

  5. Danise Jurado

    Hi Jenni!

    Your precious boy… giving you just the touch from Jesus your heart needed… from the mouth of babes… Yes! God loves you very very much and he sees everything you and your sweet family are going through right now… May the hope of God eternal yes to you comfort your heart.

    I pray Lord for Jenni … comfort her to the depth of her soul… to the places no one else sees… bring your encouragement and strength to her as she trust you and your promises. In Jesus name Amen

    love and blessings

    Danise

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Oh my gosh, women, now I am full on crying! Thank you for the love, prayers, and support. So grateful to connect with you here.

  6. Betsy de Cruz

    You are one brave woman, Jenni. Thanks for sharing this story. How do we live with God’s no’s? I look forward to reading what you have to say. God is good. That’s all we can tell ourselves sometimes. May the Lord surround you with grace and hope. You have a precious family. #TellHisStory

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Betsy, we have a saying here in Nebraska, “God is good all the time. All the time, God is good.” Oh for the day I can bravely proclaim that — irrelevant of my external circumstances! But we are forever growing and learning, aren’t we?!

  7. Lois Flowers

    This is a powerful insight, Jenni. And I, too, will look forward to reading more of your “thoughts” about it! I appreciate your transparency and am glad I stopped by from Purposeful Faith.

  8. Kristi

    Jenni, I sat right there with you in the ER. The way you’ve written this post, evoking emotions, took me there. It’s beautiful writing on a hard situation. I so wish you didn’t have to live this one, but oh, how your words are bringing glory to God. Your words are ministering, my friend. Visiting from #coffeeforyourheart.

    1. Genuflected Post author

      Thank you Kristi! It’s the best tool against the evil one when we use what he intended to hurt us for the glory of God. So grateful for your words of encouragement that I am doing just that.

  9. Sarah Donegan

    I’m so sorry you have to deal with a sick child. That must be so hard and frustrating and scary.
    I do love when God shows us we are acting like children, and suddenly makes it clear. He definitely knows what is best!

  10. Genuflected Post author

    Isn’t it amazing! It makes me laugh a little to think that we are all kids to God. Can you imagine if we saw kids on the playground taking things as seriously as we do as adults? I can almost hear God chuckle at us sometimes. Grateful you are a part of our community here at Genuflected, Sarah! Have a blessed weekend!

  11. Gretchen Ritola

    I know first hand the frustrations of feeling like my prayers are not being answered the way I had hoped – and have discovered in the midst of this the strength that comes from recognizing that God is always right there, walking with me through whatever I am dealing with. God may say “no” – but he never leaves our side. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

  12. Penny

    Jenni,

    I am so sorry that you all are going through this with you dear little boy. From the picture they both are truly brave and obviously have learned a great deal from you. You have reminded us that we as parent’s are not fully in charge.That can be one of the toughest and most heartbreaking lessons we can learn.But sometimes No can be temporary. So I will be hoping and praying for your little boy and your family.

  13. Janet from FL

    Jenni, As I was reading your story about the “no” God answered to your prayer, in my mind I thought, “He did not say no, He said He had a better way.” Then you went on to say the same thing, basically! It all comes down to accepting His will. We don’t know why He answers the way He does, but we know He loves us so much, that He gave His only Son to save us. God is blessing you today! Ask Him to show you how His answer is a blessing.
    –Janet (cancer survivor)

  14. Genuflected Post author

    So true, Janet! In hindsight I can see just how much better His way was than mine. Oh to learn to see that and trust it in the moment.

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