Unanswered Prayers: A Blessing in Disguise

Several years ago I was talking to a young man about someone I knew who had an accident and the doctors were ready to amputate one leg from above the knee. The severity of the situation and the possible future consequences just overwhelmed this young man as he pondered the issue. Then he responded and said: “I would rather die than face something like that.”

In the midst of such a tragedy would I come to such a conclusion? Would you? This is where unanswered prayers become a blessing. God’s graciousness is extended to us in such circumstances. But such requests for death may be more common than we imagine. We may have longed for it just like Job in the Bible. He said “why is light given to him who is in misery; and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave? Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” (Job 3:20-23 ESV)
In the midst of tragedy, at the point of desperation, we may not be able to see beyond our current struggles. Like Job, our only hope may be death and nothing else. As a matter of fact, it may be the ultimate longing of our hearts. But somehow God ignores such pleas. He overlooks such responses of our emotions to the tragedy we face.
Then God takes this opportunity to guide us and mold our thinking. He first allows our emotions to settle and teaches us that our true hope is not in death, but in God alone.
It was Saint John of the Cross who held strong through a life full of tragedy and struggles. He grew up in extreme poverty and later in life faced numerous rejections. Even those in his own religious order took him captive and put him through torture by public beatings and isolation in a small dark cell. The book Dark Night of the Soulexplains how this tragic life produced much good for so many people, and continues to do so through his writings.
In the midst of tragedy, the longing for death may be a natural emotional response. We may cry out to God and plead with him for death. It is during such times that God blesses us with unanswered prayers. He chooses to lead us through a more difficult path in which he can do things in us and through us that are much beyond our thinking.
Have you ever longed for death? What has these unanswered prayers taught you?
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Photo credit Ashley Rose

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