Unanswered Prayers…Or Are They?

Have you ever prayed to God, only to have your prayers go seemingly unanswered in the moment? Yet looking back, it turns out your prayers were answered exactly how He intended.

Yesterday, I had to take a routine health screening as part of my insurance plan. Turns out I’m healthy (yay) but the screening itself involved some not so pleasant aspects that I never handle well. Some of you experience the same fears, so I won’t go into specific details.

But before my appointment, I prayed to God and even had someone else pray for me—that this time I’d be able to handle the procedure for once without feeling uncomfortable. I was hoping that perhaps this time, I could overcome my lifelong fears and actually emerge from this without incident, but the mind is such a powerful thing. Now I see why Scripture doesn’t underestimate it…

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Now even though my intentions were to trust God in the moment, I fell flat on my face. But thankfully not literally on my face. Although I didn’t pass out, I still didn’t handle it well. Both physically and spiritually. I gave more power to my mind than to Him. Yet in the moment, it seemed to me that God hadn’t answered my prayers the way I thought He would.

It wasn’t until afterwards, when I got back home, that I had two meaningful conversations. One with my brother and a second with a really close friend that would have otherwise never taken place had I not undergone the previous turmoil.

The first conversation was with my brother, who often struggles with severe panic attacks and anxiety. Talking with him yielded some tremendous insight. The premise of his words—”instead of getting all worked up trying to avoid the inevitable, why not just accept that it’s going to happen and deal with it? That way, you know exactly what to expect and can better position yourself to manage it. You know you’re not going to die. You know the worst-case scenario is that you’ll black out, but at least you’ll come to and you’ll be fine.”

Wow, I never thought about it like that. I spend so much time trying to fight how I’m going to feel, that I actually work myself up even more in the process. This probably brings on the feelings a lot quicker and a lot stronger than they should because I’m so fixated on them.

Turns out this change in my brother’s perception of the problem has helped him to overcome his anxiety and significantly manage it a lot better. Before, when he was trying desperately to avoid his condition, it led him to become completely debilitated by it, whether or not an attack actually took place. It was the fear that immobilized his every move. And fear is a very powerful thing. Fear can destroy us if we let it. No wonder the enemy employs this tactic to try and control us.

The second conversation I had was with a close friend, who I sadly have not made time for lately, even though he often reaches out to me.

Last night, when he called, I picked up the phone for once. It was good to hear his voice. Later on however, he revealed something startling—he had been sober for nine months, without the use of drugs or alcohol. Had it really been over nine months since we last spoke? Where was I during that time? Why had I not made the time to be there for him while he was struggling? Maybe he had been trying to reach out to me at that time, but I had been too busy to care.

After that conversation, it reinforced the notion that we never make time for others as much as we could. Sure, we make time for our social media and checking the news feed, but with people, we often put them on hold. Society’s overused phrase, “I’m too busy” excuse. Man, I hate hearing that excuse. Yet it seemed that God was trying to make me aware of it—that even I was now guilty of.

So, I thank you Lord for answering my prayers last night. Not in the way I wanted, but in the way that You intended. The way You knew I’d be more receptive to. After all, You know me better than I know myself. And I thank You for the wisdom You provide to me and for making time for me, despite Your own busy schedule running the universe.

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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