Unanswered prayer is hard to take. “Ask and it will be given,” Jesus promises. When we ask and ask, and it’s not given, we wonder if Jesus had his fingers crossed when he said that.
This is a common dilemma, a regular topic in sermons, pastoral care, and home Bible studies. We pay far less attention to the equal difficulty of answered prayer. We ask and ask, and God answers, but the gift doesn’t come with the wrapping we expect or in the form we want. Answered prayers are hard to distinguish from the unanswered.
Faithful Israelites ask the Lord to purge idolatry, throw out unscrupulous kings, drain the swamp. And he sends . . . Nebuchadnezzar, who burns the temple and cracks the walls of Jerusalem. Habakkuk doesn’t much like this answer: The law is ineffective, injustice spreads, and things are horrible. But the Chaldeans? Really, Lord?
Over the past several decades, American Christians have felt a growing sense of marginalization and ostracism. We’re mocked by popular and elite culture and our beliefs are trampled in law and public policy. Even uttering traditional Christian views of sodomy (sin, unnatural act) is condemned as bigotry.
We’ve prayed for relief. We ask and ask, and God sends . . . Trump? .......