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When God Doesn’t Give You What You Prayed For

By: Kristen Clark

I was desperate. With tears flowing down my face, I held my limp little puppy in my arms. This puppy had only been mine for 4 days. Addie was sweet and energetic and had the cutest little eyes. I was already deeply bonded with her.

Even though she was just a dog, she came into my life after a hard season of two miscarriages. Having something small and little to care for was helpful for me. I had never owned a dog before, so this was a new experience. I was honestly shocked at how instantly attached and in-love one can become with their animal.

I was also surprised at how devastatingly hard it can be to lose that same animal.

After what seemed like a healthy vibrant start for Addie, she was fading quickly. The vet didn’t know what was wrong with her… but she was dying. With my arms wrapped around her little body, I could feel her breathing. I was praying for God to save her. I was praying for God to restore her. “I can’t handle another death!” I cried out to God.

Despite my prayers and round-the-clock care, she wouldn’t make it. Around 3:00am that morning she let out one big final yawn, then never breathed again.

I cried the rest of the night in Zack’s arms wondering why God didn’t save Addie. The next morning, I wrestled with feelings of anger toward God. “I just lost two babies…you could have at least let me keep the puppy.”

Deep in my heart, I knew God was good. But He didn’t feel good to me at that moment.

If you’ve ever gone through something hard in your own life, you can probably relate to my feelings. It’s difficult to pour your heart out in prayer, only to watch everything fall apart before your eyes.

As I wrestled with my emotions that day, I was reminded of a sobering truth: God’s goodness doesn’t change when my circumstances are hard. He is always good no matter what happens in my life (Psalm 119:68).

Through that tough experience and many others, God has challenged the motivations and desires of my heart. My reactions to unanswered prayer have often revealed my inner struggle to fully trust God.

I have wrestled with questions like…

“Do I love God fully…or only when He gives me what I want?”
“Is God required to give me what I want when I want it?”
“Is God truly good all the time, or is He only good when my life is good?”

These questions always seem to come in the midst of a trial. But God, being gracious in mercy and slow to anger (Psalm 145:8) has worked in my heart. He has opened my eyes to truths that have brought peace and healing to my soul…even in the midst of the pain.

As you wrestle with your own trials and unanswered prayers, I pray these truths will bring peace to your heart as well.

First, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that God doesn’t owe me anything.

I don’t have a “right” to anything in this world. As hard as this is to accept, I must remind myself that God is not my genie in a bottle required to fulfill my every wish. When God sovereignly allows something to happen differently than I prayed for, that is His Divine prerogative.

Psalm 135:6 says, “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”

Secondly, God’s greatest priority for my life is that I would be conformed to the image of Christ.

God is more interested in transforming my heart than transforming my circumstances. God may allow hard circumstances into my life as a means to help me trust Christ more deeply.

Romans 8:29a says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

Lastly, God is good and He works all things out for the good of those who love Him.

God has a bigger and greater plan for my life than what I can see. His plan may involve some suffering. His plan may involve hardship. My job is to trust that God is working in my life, through those hard circumstances, to ultimately glorify His name.

Psalm 119:68 says, “You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.” And Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.”

Life is full of storms.

Running to God in prayer is the right and good thing to do. He is our refuge and stronghold (Psalm 46). God wants to hear the cries of our heart. But as we cry out to our Heavenly Father, let’s be faithful to hold our desires with an open hand. We must remind ourselves that He is still good. We mustn’t lose sight of who God is and who we are in comparison. We must choose to humbly trust in Him.

The most content women aren’t the ones who get what they want, but the ones live surrendered lives to Christ, always trusting that He knows best.

Regardless of whether or not God answers our prayers the way we’d hoped, may we be women who always say, You are God and I am not. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

I’d love to hear from you below.

  • What is your response when God doesn’t answer your prayers in the way you’d hoped?
  • What truths about God do you need to embrace in order to trust Him more fully with the circumstances in your life?

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  • Katherine

    God never does anything that isn’t for our good and His glory.

  • Anna

    For me this vers is usually hopeful Jeremiah 29:11 “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring ypu prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.” I’m sorry for your loss, Kristen.

  • Shanae B

    I’m currently going through a difficult season. Through my bible reading and devotionals God has been reminding me that he’s still good and works out what is best for every situation! This is yet another reminder, thanks for sharing!

  • Ivy

    I really appreciated the courage you had to write this, and I find articles like this that get down to the struggles and rough seasons are so relatable and helpful.

    • Ruth Jackson

      Agreed! When everyone is sharing stories that are full of roses, it can be even more difficult when you are going through a rough time. While I am not the sharing type, I’ve begun to realize how encouraging it can be when I share the “nitty gritty” with close friends. Just knowing that others have already gone through or are currently going through something tough makes life a little bit easier.

  • Sarah Palmer

    Thank you so much for this blog post! This is exactly what I have been struggling with! I started praying for my future husband when I was 15. Now, I am 26 and single. At times, I have wondered why it has taken a God who can do anything as quickly as He chooses 11 years to answer that prayer. I’ve read the books, prayed and prayed, and tried to figure out what was wrong. The conclusion I have come to is that God is Good. I’m not single because I’m ugly or “less than.” While I can see how God has already used me in these unexpected years, how He’s molded me, and the opportunities HesH brought my way (like going to China for a month and a half)… I still don’t fully understand why He hasn’t let me meet”the one” yet. I have been struggling to believe He is good, that He cares. By faith, I know He does and that He has a good reason (probably more than one) for not giving me my desire. But, I have been struggling; and your article helped. Thank you!

  • Wendy Sue Bange

    Thank you Kristen… I was deeply encouraged by your article! The thing that struck me is when you asked- Do unloved God fully or just when i get what I want??

  • Claudia

    I’ve been a christian for 10 years now so i’m really amazed to learn this new attitude towards my Lord, it’s beautiful for me to understand that He doesn’t owe me anything, and whatever he chose for me I’ll accept it with a joyful heart.

  • Leggy P

    I am dying and my sibling is dying. Did God really put both of us here to live in agony and die an early death?

    • Dani Allen

      I don’t really know what to tell you except that God loves you and has a plan for you and your sibling. I’ll pray for you. I hope you can be encouraged with the knowledge that God is always with you and really does care.


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