Sometimes prayers go unanswered. When this happens, how do you respond? Do you pout like a two year old child or scream? Do you get bitter, annoyed, frustrated at God for not helping you out? How about seeing it as the forces of darkness opposing you in some cosmic battle, testing you as Job to see what matters to you really, to see if despite this prayer falling through you still trust that God has your back. What is your first inclination?
That’s kind of where I was this morning. I was supposed to have an interview roughly 28 miles from where I live. The directions were straightforward (or so I thought), and the estimated time to get there was 30 minutes. Good, I thought. I’ll leave 1 hr and 45 minutes early. This should allow ample time for things like traffic or getting lost. When 45 minutes had passed and I started to get concerned but thought, I still have an hour, I’ll make it. Then another 30 minutes passed. I got increasingly frustrated and started praying/pleading with God. “Hey God, I have this interview, please let me get there on time. Please help me calm down, breathe. I trust you.” I was positive I would be there on time. Until I wasn’t. Around this point I gave up on my directions and decided to follow what the GPS said. Excitement welled up as I saw the icon of the car getting closer and closer to the place where I was supposed to be.
Then suddenly the GPS tells me to turn Right off of the main Route and onto a side street. It seemed strange but I was relieved that I was almost there. That was until I heard the electronic GPS voice say “In 300 feet, navigate off road.” And there, 300 feet ahead was a forest, leading downhill into a river. I might have cried a little. Well, I thought, maybe if I start driving back the GPS will reroute me. And it did, right back to that spot to go off-roading.
By now I was already 15 minutes late for my interview. And by the time I got there I was so late I had to reschedule. Yes, I was frustrated. Frustrated that it took me nearly 3 hours to get somewhere that should have only taken 30 minutes. I was frustrated that my prayer went unanswered. But I also thought about it. I wasn’t angry at God for not answering it. I was angry, but not at God. I was angry over whatever it was that was opposing me. And I wondered how many times this opposing force tries to get us to be angry at God, kind of like Job, and how many times we give in. And how many times we can get ourselves to view it differently. To know that even if things didn’t go our way and God wanted them to go our way, that maybe we need to look at our attitude. Maybe this kind of unanswered prayer is a prayer within itself. Because despite the anger, hurt, or rejection we feel from this unanswered prayer, we can say, I know God still has my back, thanks God.