At week 20 we learned that our little girl would be born with a birth defect known as Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH).
Do you know how often I prayed for a miraculous healing? Do you know how often I prayed God would give our family a ‘Red Sea’ moment – a moment where God would do the impossible? Do you know how often I prayed that Davy would be born and the doctors would be baffled because they wouldn’t be able to find a hole in her diaphragm?
Every single day for 22 weeks.
Yet, here I am, 58 days later, sitting with my sick daughter in the NICU with a heap of seemingly unanswered prayers.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to our family. In our first year of marriage we got THAT phone call. You know the phone call I’m talking about. The phone call when you pick up the line, hear the voice on the other end and all the air is sucked out of the room your standing in because you intuitively know something is wrong. Our phone call was Chelsea’s dad letting us know he had pancreatic cancer.
Do you know how often we begged God to heal Chels’ dad?
Every single day for 6 months.
Every single day for 6 months until we got the second phone call letting us know we needed to get to Lubbock because Dave was fading fast. He ended up passing away later that night.
The natural question that flows out of experiences like this is, “Why didn’t God answer my prayers?” There are many answers for that question (and much digital ink spilled on the topic), yet today I don’t want to answer the why but the what. Unanswered prayer is a universal experience so what do we do when prayers go answered?
What do we do when God doesn’t answer our prayers – or doesn’t answer the prayers in the way or time frame we so desire?
The first thing we can do is trust in God’s character. The infinitely wise (Rom. 11:33), good (Luke 18:19), and loving (1 John 4:8) God of the universe will do what is right (Gen. 18:25). Just like any good Father He won’t always give us what we WANT, but He will always give us what we NEED to bring Him the most glory and us the most good within His greater purposes. The first thing we can always do, whether God answers our prayers or not, is to trust Him (Prov. 3:5-6).
Second, we can lean into God’s strength. Paul prayed three times that God would remove the “thorn” in his flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-8), but God chose not to remove it. Instead, God used it as an opportunity to teach Paul to lean into the sufficiency of Christ for sustenance by reminding him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Sometimes God isn’t answering our prayer so we’ll lean into his strength and not rely on ourselves; therefore, we must lean into the strength that God alone provides.
Third, we can joyfully conform to the perfect will of God. The greatest example I can think of this is Jesus himself on the Mount of Olives. He begged God, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:39-42). We all know the rest of the story. God didn’t take the cup from him. He drank the full wrath of God, crucified on a Roman cross the very next day for the sins of the world. Jesus, conformed to the will of God, in joy (Heb. 12:2), knowing that it was perfect and that there were greater eternal purposes (Rev. 5:12).
Now is any of this easy? Hardly ever. I’m an impatient, entitled, broken man who wants things done his way. However, God is kind, patient and gracious towards his children (Psalm 145:8) as we learn to deal with unanswered prayers or prayers answered differently than expected.
I must also remember that prayer is a gift which provides an avenue in which to communicate with my Heavenly Father, not simply a special request hotline. The religious minded think that if they pray rightly God will love them and answer their prayers. This is wrong. The gospel-minded know that God already loves us, whether we pray rightly or not, and that prayer cultivates intimacy with our Heavenly Father, which is better than any answered prayer. This truth frees us to not evaluate God’s love for us based on whether He answers our prayers or not, but simply on the fact that He sent His son for us – out of love (John 3:16, Eph. 2:4-5).
So as I sit here with my sick daughter and an unanswered prayer staring back at me I can trust that the infinitely wise, good and loving God has greater purpose for Davy’s life. I can trust that just because one prayer wasn’t answered doesn’t mean He won’t answer it in another way or time frame than expected. I can trust that simply because one prayer wasn’t answered doesn’t mean He won’t answer future requests. There are spiritual things and future eternal purposes that I can’t see or comprehend and may never understand on this side of eternity.
Therefore, I will continue to pray, trust God, lean into his strength and joyfully conform to His perfect will for my life. How long you ask?
Every single day until He comes back or takes me home.
Davy Update & Prayer Request
It’s been a hard 3 days for our Davy girl. She has been struggling from pretty intense withdrawal as they ween her off the drugs that she’s been on over these last 58 days. She also has been struggling over the last days with her breathing and was reintubated around 1 am this morning. It was the right move because Davy was working her little lungs to hard and she wouldn’t be able to sustain it much longer. Davy is doing better today but we still have a long way to go.
- Infection – Pray against infection for our Davy girl. There is potential that she might be getting sick and I don’t want her to have to fight that off in the midst of her recovery.
- Wisdom – Pray for the wisdom of our medical team. They continue to make big decisions for Davy every single day (along with 30 other kiddos) and could always use your prayers.
- Overall health – Davy has been struggling with a lot of things over the last few days (lungs, stomach issues, potential infection, etc.) and if you could pray for her holistic health we’d be grateful.