What do we do when God is silent and our prayers aren’t being answered—and our problems get even worse?
We all face adversity in life. Sometimes it’s because we make an honest mistake, or sometimes it’s because other people do things to us that hurt us. But sometimes, bad things happen to us for no apparent reason -- even when we’re following God. It’s during these times we naturally cry out and ask for God to help.
But what happens when God is silent and our prayers aren’t being answered? And our problems get even worse?
Deep down, we may begin to wonder: “I don’t think God cares about me.” And “If He does, then why would he be silent and distant and not seem to care?”
At some point in our relationship with the Lord, we’ve all probably asked the question: Why would God let our most difficult problems go from bad to impossible if He really loved us?
In John 11, Jesus asks and answers this very question. In the story, a problem is brought to Jesus: His friend Lazarus is near death. Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha ask for Jesus to come and help. But Jesus doesn’t respond in a way that they expect.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” (John 11:4-7)
Jesus loved Lazarus, yet when Jesus found out his friend was sick he waited several days before going to him. Why did He do this? On the surface, this didn’t look like love.
Two days later, Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus died and explains why he waited: “… for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (v. 14-15)
When Jesus arrives at Mary and Martha’s house, Lazarus’ two sisters are heartbroken. Martha said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v. 21)
Jesus had the power to heal their brother, yet he chose not to. Why? His strategy was – and still is – to give them something better. Rather than solving the problem in their life, he revealed to them the author of life.
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (v. 25-26)
At the end of the story, Jesus demonstrates the glory and power of God by raising Lazarus from the dead.
So often, we want God to be our “self-help genie” to make our life work out. Yet, God often waits to change our situation and He doesn’t always take away our problems. This is because His purposes and His love is greater than fixing our problems.
Although He may not deliver us out of problems, God always promises to delivers us through them. He also gives us strength and His grace to endure.
In John 8:12, Jesus says this about Himself: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Jesus acknowledges that this life is “dark” – it’s filled with difficulty and pain. But if we’re following Him, then we will walk in the light. And as we walk with Him, we learn to believe in His love and experience His power.If we don’t give up or give in, not only do our problems increase our faith and trust in God but they also produce a character change in us.
This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote: …We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
It’s my prayer that as we face hardships in this life, we might come to believe in God’s love for us and know the extent of His power available to us.