Unanswered prayer is frustrating especially when we believe our request aligns with God’s will. “Lord, please bring my loved one back to you. Lord please heal my child. God, please help me overcome my thought struggles. Jesus, show me what I am to do in this situation.”
In Psalm 69, David struggles with mocking and insults of others. It seems like his desperate prayers (see yesterday’s post) go unanswered. “You (God) know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; all my enemies are before you. Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters but found none.” (Psalm 69:19-20)
Yet then comes a shocking jolt of a verse. “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” (Psalm 69:21).
Do you recognize that? “And when they cam to a place called Golgotha, they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.” (Matthew 27:33-34). Suddenly our gaze shifts from David’s unanswered prayer to the cross.
What had Jesus prayed the night before? “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus did not receive a “Yes” to that request. So Jesus “knew – and knows still – the pain of unanswered prayer when he asked if another way could be found to save us besides the agony of the cross.” (Keller – Songs of Jesus, 155). God answered by saying in effect, “There is no other way. If they are to be saved, I must not save you.”
Jesus bore the pain of unanswered prayer for our sake. What comfort is that to us in our unanswered prayer? Well God ultimately brought tremendous good in His response to Jesus’ prayer. God accomplished His redemptive purposes for us through that prayer. God’s eternal wisdom discerned that to say yes to that prayer would mean no to the salvation of millions. So we get a glimpse of God’s greater good purposes in His saying no to Jesus.
Jesus demonstrated trust in His Father even as He make the request. “Not as I will, but as you will.” So when our prayers seem to be unanswered, it helps to learn from Jesus’ example. The cross proves that God loves us. Therefore, we can trust that He is “listening to us and handling our requests the way we would want if we had His wisdom.” (Songs of Jesus).
“Lord God we need encouragement when our earnest prayers seem to go unanswered. Yet Jesus’ unanswered prayer brought us salvation. So we turn to you Jesus for your comfort in our unanswered prayer and trust the Father’s wisdom to handling our request in the wisest way possible.”