This is such a puzzle to most of us. Why does God allow ISIS to crucify Christian Pastors, and slaughter innocent children in front of their Christian parents in the middle of a country which so desperately needs the Gospel? Why doesn’t God step in and protect the ones who are faithfully serving Him in this world?
I’m sure I can’t fully answer this, but a scene in the book of Revelation comes to mind:
“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of th-11ose who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.” Revelation 6:9-11
There are just a few things to observe from this future event:
- Isis martyrs and many other Old and New Testament believers in the One, True God (Jesus) are in this group pictured in Revelation. These are the ones who have been martyred for the faith throughout history.
- This is an honored, special group of people, evidenced by where they are standing, under the altar of God, in His throne room.
- They are just as curious as we are about why God keeps waiting to finally destroy all the cruel enemies of God. They cry for all martyrdom to be over.
- They are rewarded with a white robe. Why is this a reward? Not exactly sure. White robes are what the raptured saints will be wearing as soon as they are snatched out of the world, resurrected out of their earthly bodies, and gathered around the throne. (described in Revelation 7:9&10) And, white robes are what all believers in the One, True God (Jesus) will be wearing someday as we return with Christ on white horses (described in Revelation 19:11-14). Perhaps the reward here is that the martyrs receive their white robes first, before any of the rest of us do.
- They are told to rest with the current horrible situation on earth. How can they rest, knowing what their fellow believers are facing? Their rest has to be based on their trust that God Himself knows what He is doing.
- They are told that there are a few more people to be martyred for their faith on the earth, and those future martyrs are not going to be robbed of their opportunity to join this elite group. In other words, to be martyred is an honor, and there is a job they are needed for, and Lord wants them to get their chance!
Again, I’m not sure this completely answers our questions about the suffering of faithful servants of God, but I am comforted in my heart to know that God is allowing these things, that He does have a purpose, and that those martyrs will someday give out a group shout, “It was worth it!!!”
Since You are all-powerful, why do You need us to praise You or prophesy or tell others about You? Couldn’t you just do anything You needed to to get the word out to people? Angels? Words written in the sky? Why do You need us?
The Psalmist asked this question, too.
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? “ Psalm 8:3&4
We can’t always know the “why” of things when it pertains to understanding the mind of God. All of us have many, many “why”’s which may never be answered in our lifetimes.
But here’s what we can know: God has made it obvious that He does care about man. And He does choose to use men in His plan for the earth. He lets us praise Him. He lets us prophesy. He lets us pray. And He chooses to use all those things to spread His truth. He could use any number of other spectacular displays of His glory, or methods of communication, and sometimes He does, but mostly, He chooses to use men.
Why? Just put that on your list of things to ask Him someday when you are kneeling at His throne.
I can unhesitatingly say, “Yes, you are. We all are.”
If you read the stories in the Bible of ordinary people who were used in many, many ways as a part of God’s bigger plan, you would be convinced of this, too.
Take, for instance, the priest Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth in Luke Chapter 1. They were not powerful or rich or especially smart people. They were ordinary. They had wanted a child all their lives but hadn’t been able to have one. They couldn’t make their own dreams come true. And even when a real, live angel appeared right before Zacharias’s eyes, he, a religious man, couldn’t muster up the belief to accept what the angel said!
But, even with very weak faith at first, they brought into the world the tiny baby who would grow up to be the one who introduced the long-awaited Messiah to the world.
If you believe God raised Jesus from the dead, you have a part to play in God’s plan for all eternity. If you don’t believe that yet, take the first step – ask Him to help you believe. And then Wow! Wait and see what God has in store for you.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Ephesians 2:10
Here are the Questions and Answers for Luke 1:59-66
If you want to see all the Questions and Answers for what we’ve done so far in Luke, click here.
If you stop to think about it, there are many, many times in scripture when God waited a long time to answer prayer. In fact, what strikes me is that most of the time God does wait a long time to answer! Waiting seems to be the rule, not the exception.
That’s why Isaiah 40:31 speaks so directly to each of our hearts. “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Waiting is normal.
But sometimes God hears your prayer, and says “No.”.
- God said “No.” to the people of Israel when they longed for the bread and meat pots of Egypt. Learning to live as free people had turned out to be very, very hard, and they just wanted to go back to their old lives of slavery and quit trying to fight for their freedom. God said “No.” (Exodus 16)
- God said “No.” when a money-loving little prophet named Balaam wanted to do the wrong thing. He asked God to bless him as he went about his greedy little business. God actually spoke that “No!” to that prophet by the voice of a donkey! (Numbers 22:22-34)
- Naomi, I’m sure, prayed for the Lord to spare the life of her husband, but God said “No”. He died. And then I’m positive she also prayed for the Lord to spare the lives of both of her sons. But God said “No.” They died. Her bitterness rose up in her at what seemed to be the unfaithfulness of God. But he wasn’t, was He? His “No.” was actually “Not in the way you pictured it.” (The book of Ruth)
- Jeremiah prophesied and prayed for his whole lifetime for the children of Israel to repent and live wholeheartedly for the One, True God. In Jeremiah’s lifetime they never did. God said “No”…not yet. Jeremiah, but they will someday.” (The book of Jeremiah)
- Habakkuk pleaded with God to not send a horde of bloodthirsty Assyrians down to conquer Israel. God said “No.” And then God said “Stop asking, Habakkuk. I am God. I will do things My way.” Habakkuk 2:10
- The Apostle Paul pleaded with God to take away his affliction. But God said “No.” “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2nd Corinthians 12:9)
So…what conclusions can we come to about unanswered prayer?
- God always says “No.” to sin. If you pray for the right to sin, you won’t get an “ok” from God.
- Sometimes God says “No”, meaning, “Not in the way you pictured it”.
- Sometimes God isn’t saying “No”, He’s saying “Wait”.
- And sometimes He says, “Just trust Me.
We are called to pray. And as we pray we grow in our faith. Even when God says “No” we grow in our faith.
So if it seems like God is not answering your prayer, wait. We learn, I think, to pray more and more according to God’s will, when we go through times of waiting and sometimes getting silence when we want answers. We slowly begin to love to pray not because we think we can force God to do our will, but because we are beginning to love His will so much.
Why Hasn’t God Answered My Prayer?
Here’s the answer: He is.