“If you just pray everything will be ok.” We are fed on television, social media, blogs, devotionals, and sometimes even at church.
If we pray hard enough the child with cancer will not die, our kids will return safely every time we watch them drive away, the desperately wanted baby will finally come, and the unwanted baby will be given a chance at life. We believe in the idea that if we pray for all these things, they will always be certain. But sometimes children die, and those two little lines never appear.
Prayer doesn’t always change things; often it doesn’t change the circumstances of this fallen world.
How can we trust God when we don't see him solve the problems we urgently ask him to resolve? What do we do when the prayer is unanswered, and the unimaginable happens? Do we stop praying, do we stop believing, do we stop trusting? Every day someone’s answer to that question is yes, and they walk away from God for eternity.
This life is hard; we are guaranteed it is going to be dark, we are going to feel pain and sadness, and we will see death, brokenness, and despair.
If we place our faith in the Lord based upon the circumstances of the earth, then we don’t understand faith at all. If you base your belief in salvation on your experience here, you are missing out on the glory of eternity that Christ’s death gifts you. It is impossible to know this side of heaven why one person's prayer was answered and another's not, but we shouldn't stop praying and believing because our faith is about what lies beyond this life; our faith is about the “even if.”
If we continue to pursue God regardless of whether our prayers are answered shows that we understand that our belief in Jesus and his holy death is our bridge to eternity. It is our bridge out of this painful place to a place of glory, healing, and sanctification.
If you are only looking for earthly satisfaction from God, you will always find disappointment. But look to Him for what comes next, and He promises every tear will be wiped and every pain will be healed even if our circumstances in this world are dark.