Answered Prayers

29861Then Job answered: “I wish my suffering could be weighed and my misery put on scales. My sadness would be heavier than the sand of the seas. No wonder my words seem careless. The arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are gathered against me. A wild donkey does not bray when it has grass to eat, and an ox is quiet when it has feed. Tasteless food is not eaten without salt, and there is no flavor in the white of an egg. I refuse to touch it; such food makes me sick.”

“How I wish that I might have what I ask for and that God would give me what I hope for. How I wish God would crush me and reach out his hand to destroy me. Then I would have this comfort and be glad even in this unending pain, because I would know I did not reject the words of the Holy One. I do not have the strength to wait. There is nothing to hope for, so why should I be patient? I do not have the strength of stone; my flesh is not bronze. I have no power to help myself, because success has been taken away from me.”

“They say, ‘A person’s friends should be kind to him when he is in trouble, even if he stops fearing the Almighty.’ But my brothers cannot be counted on. They are like streams that do not always flow, streams that sometimes run over. They are made dark by melting ice and rise with melting snow. But they stop flowing in the dry season; they disappear when it is hot. Travelers turn away from their paths and go into the desert and die. The groups of travelers from Tema look for water, and the traders of Sheba look hopefully. They are upset because they had been sure; when they arrive, they are disappointed. You also have been no help. You see something terrible, and you are afraid.”

“I have never said, ‘Give me a gift. Use your wealth to pay my debt. Save me from the enemy’s power. Buy me back from the clutches of cruel people.’ Teach me, and I will be quiet. Show me where I have been wrong. Honest words are painful, but your arguments prove nothing. Do you mean to correct what I say? Will you treat the words of a troubled man as if they were only wind? You would even gamble for orphans and would trade away your friend.”

“But now please look at me. I would not lie to your face. Change your mind; do not be unfair; think again, because my innocence is being questioned. What I am saying is not wicked; I can tell the difference between right and wrong.” Job 6

What stands out to you about Job’s words?

If anyone could say he was going through a winter of life, it would be Job. Literally, life was dying and drastically changing around him. Death and bleakness surrounded him. But who did he call out to in his bleakness? God!

Job’s conversations with God didn’t cease. He wasn’t thrilled with his situation. He was discouraged, frustrated, and even desperate. But he relies on God. How I wish that I might have what I ask for and that God would give me what I hope for. How I wish God would crush me and reach out his hand to destroy me (verses 8-9). He knows God can give him what he most wants (at the time) even if what he wants is self-destruction. Of course, just because Job wants something doesn’t mean he’ll get it, because God balances his will and what is best for us in the long run with what we think is best for us in the short term. God understands how all things work together. He knows our passing frustrations and our deep-seated needs. He’s aware of the length, depth, and breadth of our needs and desires, and he knows the purity and impurity of our reliance on him through every step of the way.

When have you asked God for something you truly wanted at the time but are thankful he didn’t give you?

There was a popular song years ago called Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks about thankfulness about the prayers that didn’t get answered. It was a beautiful song. I could relate to many of the “unanswered prayer” situations listed in the song. Yet I knew it wasn’t prayers God hadn’t answered that I was most thankful for, because God doesn’t neglect to answer our prayers. It’s just that we don’t get the answer for which we were most looking. We think God will give us exactly what we want because of isolated verses such as

So I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you. (Mark 11:24)

If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you. (John 15:7)

I tell you the truth, my Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. (John 16:23)

When we read or hear these verses but don’t get what we ask, we think God isn’t holding up his end of the promise, but let’s keep what God says in context of his character. He doesn’t ever break a promise. It’s not possible, because it’s not who he is. He is consistent and reliable without exception. So, let’s reconsider the above verses within the context of verses surrounding them. Particularly look for commands God is directing toward you and all his people through these words as well as conditional words such as “if” and “when.”

Jesus answered, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, God will do it for you. So I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you. When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins. But if you don’t forgive other people, then your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.” (Mark 11:22-25)

If any do not remain in me, they are like a branch that is thrown away and then dies. People pick up dead branches, throw them into the fire, and burn them. If you remain in me and follow my teachings, you can ask anything you want, and it will be given to you. You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers, which brings glory to my Father. I loved you as the Father loved me. Now remain in my love. I have obeyed my Father’s commands, and I remain in his love. In the same way, if you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:6-12)

I tell you the truth, you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but your sadness will become joy. When a woman gives birth to a baby, she has pain, because her time has come. But when her baby is born, she forgets the pain, because she is so happy that a child has been born into the world. It is the same with you. Now you are sad, but I will see you again and you will be happy, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will not ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. (John 16:20-24)

How do these extended verses challenge you?

Just as we must keep God’s Word in context, we must keep the lives he has for us in context. The season in which you’re living right now will not last forever. In fact, the life in which you’re living right now will not live forever. You have eternal life. This life in and of itself is a season. Let God speak his perspective into your season today.

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