When God Says 'No' After Promising to Move Mountains
It would be a lot easier to accept a negative answer from God if
Jesus hadn't insisted on telling us about moving mulberry trees
and mountains and receiving whatsoever one asks. But he did say
all that, and when we don't get what we ask for, it leaves us
feeling a little confused. We start to wonder why Jesus said it
The easiest cop-out for this is to say that your prayers aren't
answered because you don't have the faith of a mustard seed.
Remember? There were conditions we don't quite understand.
Really...does anyone know how much faith a mustard seed has?
And then, of course, there's the explanation that really has us
scratching our heads. "God only gives us what's good for us. So
if the answer is 'no', then it's for our own good." It's hard to
see how moving a mountain is good for anyone...but that was the
example that Jesus used. Besides, He never mentioned any such
conditions. He just told us (over and over again) that God would
give what we ask for. And few of us can understand why it was
for St Paul's own good that he had the afflictions he writes
about. Yet God wouldn't take them away. Why?
Well, my cop-out isn't much better, but here it goes.
The next time you pray, stop and think about what you really
want. If, for example, you decide a mountain is blocking your
passage into the next valley, your real desire is not to remove
the mountain. Rather, it is to remove the obstacle the mountain
gives. So while you solemnly pace at the foot of the mountain,
praying for its removal, take time to notice the gaping hole. It
was there that God once let rivers pass through, and there
you'll discover the answer to your prayers. Though the tunnel be
dark and sinister, it does remove the mountain in a very
personal and subtle way.
In a more identifiable scenario, Joe Schmoe (a landscaper for 23
years) suffers from unbearable back pains. He prays for relief
but finds none. He loses his job and maybe even his house. He
relies on the charity of others and a government check to
survive. It really appears that his prayers aren't answered. But
when he finds a hidden talent in landscape design and finds work
with a national construction company, his back problems no
longer disable his life.
Now let's look at something more complicated. Mary Martin has a
four year old boy with a terminal illness. She prays and prays
for his cure, but still looses her son. We could find all sorts
of happy endings if this was a novel, but it wouldn't help
console a grieving mother in like circumstances. But in this
situation, we have to remember two things:
1 Her son was cured from all worldly diseases. He now enjoys
perfect health with our Father in heaven.
2 The mother is now forced into a new reality. One where she
faces the fact that all human relationships are temporary. She
must now accept the certainty of death, and let go of her
attachment. It's a harsh lesson, but it is the tunnel through
the mountain. Like it or not, it's the answer to her prayer.
These scenarios all have one thing in common- God's answer
relies on the faith of those praying. It relies on their
willingness to follow His divine plan. The traveler must venture
into the dark tunnel, believing in his ignorance and God's
direction. The landscaper must explore new employment
alternatives. The mother must decide to move on.