(Un)Answered Prayer

August 10, 2016
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Ecclesiastes 3:1 – To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. (NKJV)

On June 15th, 2015, one of my two remaining sisters, three years my junior, was admitted to the hospital. At that time, she was suffering from an undisclosed intestinal problem. She was unable to eat properly, and she was dehydrated. The plan was to check her out, to hydrate her, and to strengthen her with regular meals and appropriate medication.

Various tests were performed, X-rays were taken, and an MRI was done. It was determined that she needed an operation, but she was too weak, and she would have to get stronger first. The internist prescribed a way to do this, and the surgeon was on standby to perform the required surgery. As time went by, she did not seem to improve. A therapist and a dietician were consulted, and together with the surgeon and the internist, they decided on a course of action. The long and the short of it was that she was not getting any better, and on September 15th, three months to the day that she was admitted, she died.

Many people had prayed for her every day, family members as well as people at her church. My wife and I, and sometimes I alone, visited her on a regular basis. We discussed her faith life, and she stayed optimistic for the whole time that she was in the hospital. After each visit, we held hands and prayed together. She really appreciated that, and she called me her spiritual advisor.

We were sure that with the good care that she was getting, her positive attitude, and the many, many prayers which were said for her, she would recover, but it was not to be, and I struggled with that. She was a faithful person, a widow for 23 years, strong-willed, and wanting to live. At times, words failed me; I was spiritually tongue-tied at times, but I was aware that in my shortcomings, the Spirit would be with us.

Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (NKJV)

At times like this, we come to the realization that not all our prayers are answered the way we want, but that there is indeed a time and a place for everything. As her life came to an end, we did know that her suffering was over, as Scripture says:

Revelation 21:4 – And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. (NKJV)

Today, you, too, may be struggling with unanswered prayer. If so, do not give up hope, but continue to trust in the One Who is hope itself, and He will be your strength to see you through, no matter what the outcome.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, as we are involved in and touched by the passing of loved ones, we ask that You would comfort us with the promises in Your Word, and give us the right words to comfort all involved. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

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About the author:

Joel Jongkind <austria67@bmts.com>
Meaford, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Great words of encouragement Joel.

    There is no such thing as unanswered prayer, Joel. God answers three ways: Yes, No, and Wait-A-While.

    Goodness, this devotional has had me thinking through the times when our prayers seemed to go unanswered. Pondering here. Blessings.

    Yup. We struggle with those things for sure. I read somewhere that God has three answers to prayer: yes, no, and wait. May His Spirit comfort you in your loss.

    Thank you for today’s devotional. I am older and have seen so many friends ill. I have difficulty to pray for what I want for them and me knowing death is coming. It is difficult to pray for death to come soon. How blessed we are to know that God knows our hearts and thoughts.

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for these words of hope when we are unable to discern that God is responding to our prayers. Maybe rather than wait for the answer we expect, we should search for the answer we are receiving.
    God bless.

    Thank you Joel, I am sorry for the death of your loved sister. I am saving this devotional so that I can read it again at times as the scripture passages you have chosen are comforting and helpful and amazing really. How grateful we are how and precious is our faith and the hope we have as Christians of eternal life with God.

    Dear Joel – please accept my sympathies on the loss of your dear sister. I cannot imagine, how people without faith cope with such loss. We know we will see our loved ones again, and yet coping with loss and the apparent unanswered prayers are challenging. May God comfort you in this time of loss. Thank you for sharing these intimate thoughts with us to encourage us in our faith journey.

    Good morning Joel and Greta,
    I read your devotional this morning and it came at the perfect time for me. A member of our congregation has been struggling with cancer for over 2 years. Their daughter was recently married. Your message this morning was what I needed to read.
    Thank you.

    It was sad to hear how your sisters death came about despite all the positive steps taken by so many. My condolences. Thank you for sharing as it certainly helps others who are grieving to read such positive reminders of God’s working in mysterious ways. The scriptures noted have been added to my file on funeral remarks for future reference and daily reminders of God ‘s eternal love. I always find your messages uplifting.

    Joel I had the same experience with an ailing wife three years ago and wondered why she wasn’t healed. I’ve since remarried and have a wonderful life of ministry with my new wife.
    I know that my departed wife is enjoying heaven with the Lord and the saints and some day I will see her again.
    God is good no matter what happens. Amen.
    Lord bless you.

    Thanks for your contribution. It touches on a troublesome point for many people, often challenging their continued faith.
    One of the ladies of a lectionary bible reading group I used to lead used to say that “No” is sometimes an answer, and we have to learn to come to terms with that. I am convinced that there are some things in this life that we will never understand, but that all will be made plain to us in the next. After all, the Lord did say, “For your ways are not My ways.”

    Dear Joel,
    Thank you for your thoughtful meditation. We all need to remember that, although our prayers are so important, the passage in Ecclesiastes reminds us that all of creation is in God’s hands, including us, and His divine plan will unfold as it should. In the losses I’ve experienced, often God provides a glimpse of the goodness that arises from the ashes, just enough to provide some comfort, as well as longing for what is to come. Blessings to you and yours as you continue to share your love for the Lord and the insights He has given you.

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for your Daily Devotional today, (Un)answered Prayer!
    You are so right – it is very tough to deal with the loss of a loved one or a close friend, especially when so many have been praying for them. As a minister I struggle with how to handle this as well. I’ve come to rely on 1 Corinthians 13:9 & 12 – “For we know in part and we prophesy in part” … “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” And I admit to grieving families that I don’t know why our prayers weren’t answered. But when we see God face to face, we will be able to ask Him and all will be revealed. I also tell them that they better hope they are not in line after me because I have a lot of questions to ask Him, so will be there for awhile!
    Praying for you and all your family!

    Dear Joel,
    Thank you so much for today’s devotion.
    As I am reading through today’s devotion, I know it was meant for me. I have just received unpleasant news that my goddaughter’s cancer have returned. They have been administering very good health care at the hospital but alas! I was just so angry and could not process the struggles, and my mind was racing thinking she’s so young with young children and a husband… an amazing will to live a very long life. Your words means so much, and thank you very much for sharing this.
    May the dear Lord bless you, and strengthen you as you write these special devotional messages that brings so much reassurance to readers near and far, that our God is an awesome God, we just have to believe.
    Thank you once again.

    Mr. Jongkind,
    I struggled with why people aren’t healed. I know Our Lord can heal. I know He is present in Holy Communion. Why did He not heal these people who had so much to live for?
    A couple of years go by and I was on pilgrimage to a place called Medjugorje over in Bosnia.
    I discussed this matter with a priest as it continued to trouble me.
    His response was that death was the ultimate healing and that our ultimate goal was to be with Christ.
    Our Lord does heal, though most of the healing is internal, it is spiritual. Sometimes, Our Lord does grant a physical healing in order to build up the Body of Christ on earth. How many times we have heard or read where an atheistic doctor, having witnessed an unexplained physical healing, has come back to the Church?
    So, in the end, we have to leave these matters to God. It is tough to lose a loved one, but it is not really a matter of saying “Goodbye”.
    It is more of a matter of “See you later in the Kingdom!”
    I hope my poor words offer you and yours some comfort.
    God bless & keep the faith!

    I read your devotional yesterday and it resonated with me. How comforting it must have been for your sister to have the support of the family of faith while she was hospitalized. While it may have seemed like unanswered prayer for all of you, by coming together and praying with and for her, you all were an expression of the Body of Christ for her. You are right, that the sprit makes intercession for us because we are unable to find the words on our own. Thanks be to God that this is true, as God is the strength to see us through.
    I find myself in a place of asking God for strength each day as I am learning to live without my father. Some days I still need to remind myself that it has really happened, and so often when I am struggling God gives me a reminder that I am not alone. Yesterday it was your devotional.
    You were sharing something deep and personal in yesterday’s devotional, and I wanted you to know that it was meaningful to me.

    I am sorry for you in the loss of a sister, but I rejoice with you that she has gone home to Jesus and is in no pain or anguish. My eldest sister went Home recently. And I fully know that there is a time and a season for every purpose under heaven. I rejoiced and continue to thank God for taking her home so quickly and easily. She was diagnosed with cancer, but did not feel “up” to all the testings the doctor ordered. So the hospital made her comfortable. Although I miss her, I am so glad she no longer has pain and that God answered my prayer that He would “heal” her. God is SO good.

    Dear Joel Jonkind,
    Thank you for your devotional.
    I pray that God will bless you and all mankind that we will be prepared to go and influence others to be prepared in Christ to go through what you have just gone through with a “Hallelujah, victory in Christ!”
    Keep writing.

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