January 9, 2020
Why Isn't God Answering My Prayers?
"So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son." 1 Samuel 1:20a (NIV)
Have you ever cried over something so much that you run out of tears? Your swollen eyes just give out and dry up while a current of unrest still gushes through your soul. And you look up toward heaven in utter confusion - "Why isn't God answering my prayers?"
And there's someone else in the Bible who was right there as well.
She felt provoked and frustrated. Her anguish was so intense that she wept and would not eat. Before the Lord, she cried out in bitterness of soul, "LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant ... then I will ..." (1 Samuel 1:11b, NIV).
These words describe and articulate the deep distress of a woman from thousands of years ago, and yet here I sit in modern times relating so completely. They are from a woman named Hannah, found in 1 Samuel 1.
Hannah's tears over her empty womb were made even more painful by her husband's other wife, Peninnah. She had many sons and daughters and made sure to rub this fact in Hannah's face every chance she got.
There's a common thread that weaves through Hannah's story, and yours and mine. We can all be found desperately wanting something we see the Lord giving to other women. We see Him blessing them in the very areas He's withholding from us. We look at them and feel so hurt and unfairly set aside.
Why them? Why not me?
Then the seemingly unjust silence from God ushers us from a disturbed heart to a bitter soul. And we start to feel something that contradicts everything we hold true: If God is good, why isn't He being good to me in this?
And in this moment of raw soul honesty, we're forced to admit we feel a bit suspicious of God. We've done all we know to do. We've prayed all we know to pray. We've stood on countless promises with a brave face. And still nothing.
What do we do when our heart is struggling to make peace between God's ability to change hard things and His apparent decision not to change them for us?
We do what Hannah did.
Instead of pulling away from God in suspicion, she pressed in ever closer, filling the space of her wait with prayer.
Oh, how I love her unflinching faith. Where barrenness and mistreatment by Peninnah could have caused Hannah to completely lose heart, she refused to be deterred from trusting in God. She possessed a faith that was not contingent upon her circumstances, but based on what she knew to be true about her good and faithful God. A faith that led her to pray with so much passion and boldness in the tabernacle that Eli, the high priest, accused her of being drunk (see 1 Samuel 1:12-18)!
And though eventually her cries of anguish gave way to the cries of her newborn son, 1 Samuel 1:20a uses very clear words to let us know Hannah's answer didn't come right away: "So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son ... " (emphasis added).
It took time. But make no mistake. God's timing, though not the same as Hannah's, was perfect timing.
And the timing of Samuel's birth was imperative because Samuel was destined to play an integral role in the transition from the time of the judges to the eventual establishment of kingship for the Israelites.
God hadn't made Hannah wait to punish her. He hadn't been callous or indifferent to her cries. And He's not ignoring those of us waiting either.
God loves us too much to answer our prayers at any other time than the right time.
Father God, thank You so much for reminding me today that You are not ignoring me. You hear every cry of my heart. Will You please comfort me in the waiting? Help me trust Your perfect timing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 27:13, "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." (NKJV)
How do we keep choosing to trust God with our difficult circumstances when it seems so much easier to take things into our own hands? Release the desire to orchestrate how things turn out with the help of Lysa TerKeurst's FREE resource "Choosing To Trust Over Taking Control: 10 Compassionate Devotions That Will Increase Your Faith While Decreasing Your Doubts." Download your copy here today.
Join us for our next 6-week Online Bible Study of Trustworthy: Overcoming Our Greatest Struggles to Trust God by Lysa TerKeurst starting January 20. Register for free here.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Are you in the midst of a hard waiting season? Where can you see God's love and His goodness - even in this difficult wait? Join in the conversation here.
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