Sooner or later, all of us will walk the path of sorrow and loss. J. I. Packer describes grief as “the inward desolation that follows the losing of something or someone we loved – a child, a relative, an actual or anticipated life partner, a pet, a job, one’s home,...
If you have prayed for a miracle of healing or good provision from God’s hand that did not come, not only are you anguished about your circumstance but—compounding that pain—perhaps you are now also grieving that your God did not answer your prayer.
Expressing sorrow over both realities before the Lord for what He has not sovereignly deemed fit to give you can form the substance humble laments while suffering.
While you lament, remember that God can undoubtedly accommodate our complexities. You may be confounded and sorrowing in one area of your heart. But the heart can experience more than one emotion—especially when more than one truth is at play.
Multiple Truths at Play, Multiple Emotions
Your suffering is real. So, let the grieving areas of your heart grieve, the sorrowing sorrow. And while they are, while you grieve that your miracle has not come, look for another resonating truth. I would even guess that an area of biblical truth will so strike you that you will experience joy and hope in the knowledge of God in the middle of your suffering that you otherwise would not be able to comprehend in the same way.
Allow me to illustrate.
The intricacies of the Godhead I do not fathom. But since the stillbirth of my daughter, I marvel differently now that God gave His Son to death and planned this death before the foundation of the world. Also, the miracle of the new birth, I cannot fully grasp. But I am more amazed at God birthing us to eternal life when I was incapable of birthing a daughter alive on earth.
Though what you dearly sought has not come, what biblical truth resonates with you?
Not According to How We Pray
By the power of the Spirit, we can never overestimate what biblical truth can do within us. The apostle Paul wrote in doxological form:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20)
Perhaps these kinds of words are difficult to read right now—God doing abundantly for us. Yes, God is able to perform miracles. He was able to make my daughter’s heart beat again in my womb. He did not. Clearly, I am writing and you are reading because He does not necessarily answer prayers according to how we pray. And He is no less able.
He knows why He does not do; you and I might not understand now, in this present life, His wisdom. But could it be that He is doing beyond what we ask? Could it be that what He is working on our behalf is more than what we think? We do not grasp future glory; we cannot fathom what earthly sufferings are achieving for us (2 Corinthians 4:17). We don’t comprehend, but we can trust.
Two Realities to Hold
And there is a main component of Ephesians 3:20 we can understand more immediately, a near reality. God is accomplishing more than we know to ask or think according to “the power at work within us.” Power is also referenced only a few verses earlier—in Ephesians 3:16 where Paul prays about the power of the Holy Spirit in our inner beings.
Throughout Ephesians 3:14-20, God is being asked to help believers comprehend more of Him, that our hearts might be strengthened…
- …with power through God’s Spirit in our inner beings.
- …in order for Christ to dwell in them through faith.
- …with rootedness in His love.
- …with all the saints in the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love.
- …to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
- …to be filled to our maximum of the limitless fullness of God.
- …to trust God’s power at work within us.
- …and, to rejoice in all glory being His for all He is and has done throughout all generations.
Our hearts are strengthened as we become personally convinced that truth is true by the power of the Holy Spirit. Who on this earth can tell what that power at work in us and through us will achieve?
We lament; at the very same time: more than we ask, more than we think.
Hold both when the miracle you prayed for doesn’t come.