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  • Writer's pictureEllen H.

God’s faithfulness during unanswered prayers

“Jesus is always doing His job!” rang out the confident second grader’s voice. Such a little voice, but the words cut right to my heart, like an arrow of truth.

I had just finished reading the story of “The Good Shepherd” (Luke 15:3-7) to my First Communion class and had asked my students to tell me what they had learned about God from the story. The words of my student (let’s call him Aiden) stung, since I had been guilty for a couple of years of complaining that God was significantly slacking in his duties. Struggling along our journey of infertility alongside my husband, it often felt like God was doing everything BUT His job. My husband and I had married faithfully in the Church and several years later, we still weren’t pregnant. Doctor’s appointments were delayed. Medication proved unhelpful or sometimes even made things worse or had risky side effects so had to be abandoned. Obstacles were faced when trying to complete testing and bloodwork. As soon as problem A was under control, problem B would start cropping up. Novena after novena was prayed and yet nothing happened. Very little progress was even made diagnostically. My heart had been railing at God for years at that point: “God, where are You? Why aren’t You answering? Why aren’t You helping us? We are doing our part - why aren’t you doing Yours?” My questioning of God’s actions and His plan could often dangerously lead me to dwelling in a place of questioning God and who He was.

The reminder that God knew I needed that night from my First Communion class was that even when situations in our lives are in upheaval, He never changes. God’s nature never changes. And part of God’s nature is that He is always working for our good (“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28), or, as little Aiden said “Jesus is always doing His job.” I had to trust that despite delayed appointment after delayed appointment, negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, and one unhelpful medication or supplement after another, God was still hard at work for us behind the scenes.

God certainly has been at work in our lives these past few years. Leading us to grow spiritually as individuals. Facilitating growth in our marriage. Placing people in our lives to support us on our journey who have become the closest of friends. Using our journey to open up opportunities to reach out and minister to others. Providing us with work that is fulfilling and takes care of our current and future needs. And if God was “doing His job” in all of these other areas of our life, we had to trust that He was doing His job in the area of our future family too - whether that means further strengthening our little family of two, paving the way for a miracle pregnancy, or working behind the scenes to help us open our home to a child in need. Knowing that God is doing His job doesn’t promise any specific results, but it does guarantee that God has not abandoned us.

So while we should continue to be honest with God in our lamenting when things hurt and don’t make sense, we need to follow up our lament by giving our attention to who He is, and what He is doing.

As Christians, we believe that one of the defining characteristics of God is that He is faithful. The dictionary definition of faithful is “to remain loyal and steadfast”. There is nothing in that definition that says anything about giving people exactly what they want. God’s faithfulness does not mean that He promises to give us everything we ask for in prayer every time we ask. Instead, God’s faithfulness means that He remains loyal to us, never leaving us, remaining always by our side, working all things out for good, regardless of the situation or the circumstances. Similarly, our faith in God does not guarantee that we are granted our prayers exactly how we ask either. Instead, we are called to “remain loyal and steadfast” to God, regardless of our circumstances, whether or not things work out as we hope or expect. And so, in times of waiting, of suffering, in times of great trial, let us do all we can to stay faithful to God, drawing near to Him for strength, support and renewal, all the while knowing He is remaining faithful to us, never leaving us nor abandoning us, but continuing to accompany, guide and support us along the way.


Reflection verses and questions

1) “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Where have you seen God at work in your life? When has He brought good out of a tough part of your story?

2) “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 - emphasis added)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Recall a time or situation where you were reminded of God’s existence or were certain that He was at work/behind a good thing that happened. Then, fill in the blank:

“God, I was reminded of you and your goodness when _________. When this happened, I felt ________. This situation really showed me that you are _______ {insert a positive characteristic or attribute of God}. Right now I am struggling with ________. Please send me a reminder that even now, you are still _________ {repeat positive characteristic from above}.” 3) A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

(Psalm 121 - emphasis added)

Identify a current situation you are struggling with or that you are worried about. Describe what it means for God to “neither slumber nor sleep” in this situation. How does this change your view of the situation/how you feel about it?

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