Does God Care About my Requests?
When we began trying for our third child, we expected to get pregnant right away. Our first pregnancy surprised us just three months after we said our marriage vows and our second took place immediately after we decided to try again. This third time around, we moved forward to grow our family with a another reason in mind.
After my second pregnancy, my body did not come back together properly. I was in constant pain, to the point that one doctor thought I had early stages of cancer. Numerous months and a few procedures later, the doctors finally decided that the best bet at fixing my problem was another pregnancy. While we didn't plan to add another member to our family so soon (our youngest was six months old, our oldest was just 23 months), we had always known we wanted more children. So, we began the journey.
More months passed and nothing changed. No pregnancy, no relief for my pain, no explanations for why I wasn't getting pregnant. Insert more fertility treatments as well as a growing longing for another child. I was confused, frustrated, and felt betrayed. I prayed constantly for God to ease my pain – both physically and emotionally – and to take away my desire for a child if it was not his will. But my desire did not go away. People were calloused and didn't understand why I couldn't, “Just be happy with the two I have. After all, some people can’t even have one.”
Did God care about my longings? Did he care that my physical pain was constant and sometimes overwhelming? Did he turn a deaf ear to my pleadings to him to deliver me from this emotional state? In my heart, I just felt our family was missing someone.
Maybe you can relate on some level. Maybe you, too, have yearned for fulfillment of a prayer. Maybe you have prayed for healing, either physical or spiritual, that seems to have gone unanswered. Maybe it has caused you to grow bitter inside. Maybe you feel broken over it.
In moments like these, stepping back and asking God to give you his perspective can help calm your grieving heart. These situations are heart wrenching and devastating. They were for me. Yet, we know that God is just, that he is sovereign, and that he sent his son, to pay the weighty price for our own failings. So why do we suffer? Why does it seem like our petitions go unanswered?
Imagine for a minute that your child is asking, pleading with you for a cookie. Maybe it is even a gluten free cookie with raisins and sweetened with honey. It's practically healthy, right? But you are making dinner. You know that if this child eats a cookie now, they will refuse to eat the taco you will be serving in 15 minutes. So, because you know the bigger picture, you tell this adorable youngster, “No.” Does your beloved child think you have his best interest in mind? Or do they think they have been betrayed, in a sense?
Similarly, when God allows hardships to happen, he knows the bigger picture. He has spent all of eternity with a rescue plan in mind. Our "unanswered prayers" do not show a lack of love or a lack of answer to prayers, but instead is the exact opposite. God reaches into our pain, he loves us through our pain, and he draws us to him, knowing that his way is best. Pain is real, and our emotions are a characteristic we share with our Creator. Thankfully, God's faithfulness meets us there in our pain. His view is an eternal view.
The Happy Ending That Comes Later
If God loves us, and cares for us just as he does a sparrow, what's the deal with all of the suffering? As I mentioned before, God sees a bigger picture – a story of redemption. John 3:17, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God did not sacrifice his son, just to decide to turn his back on us. He knows that our hardships cause us to depend on him. He knows that our struggles allow us to long to be with Christ in heaven. When times are hard, we are driven to our knees, unable to any longer depend on our own strength but to fully rely on him.
When we struggled with secondary fertility, it was a blessing to us to discover one week after making a hard move from our large country home to a small, cold apartment in a big, gloomy city that we were expecting our long-awaited third child. (And the very next week our new pastor preached about Hannah and God's gift of Samuel after her faithful prayers for a child!) This pregnancy consistently reminded us that God was with us, that he heard our cries, that we were not left on be on our own.
When we struggle, we don’t look simply for an earthly answer, but with an eternal focus. How can you learn and grow in your relationship with God through your pain? Oh, my sisters, that is what I want for us, even when it feels impossible. We know that God meets us in our pain. And through our pain we are able to look forward, all the more, to the return of Christ and eternity with him.