Have you ever avoided a topic because it scares you? You scroll quickly, quickly, past that article, lest it catches your heart and you’re forced to read. You nod politely when someone brings it up, but don’t let yourself delve deeper.
That was me on the subject of unanswered prayers.
For so long I thought the lesson was surrender. Peace, peace, deep inner peace for all the unanswered prayers.
But really my heart was bleeding. God, do you hear me? Where is my healing? Where is this persistent widow’s answer?
These thoughts would swirl, faster, faster, in my mind until I caught them. Forced them into that place where I don’t look. Take captive every thought…
But the place grew deeper, and my sadness lengthened.
Where is my healing, Lord?
One morning, on a prayer walk with my husband, I was so filled with tears. I’m alone, I pray. I feel unseen, unheard. By you, by everyone.
I share my pain with friends, family, but it feels like no one cares. Does anyone see me? Can anyone else sense me drowning?
In desperation, I pray: God, send me someone who will see me. Who will understand my hurt, my pain. Who can help me carry this burden.
If I had been in my right mind, I wouldn’t have prayed this prayer. It didn’t serve others, only me. It was frivolous, unnecessary even. But I was in pain, hurting. My mind wasn’t right. It was desperate. So I prayed this prayer.
That very afternoon after my desperate prayer, I get a message from a friend. Someone I hadn’t spoken to in months: How are you?
And I knew. I knew this was an answer to my pray. I immediately knew, this person sees me. They’ve seen my pain in the past. We’ve cried together. We’ve mourned our losses together, hers greater than mine even.
And so I tell her. In a way I hadn’t been able to express to anyone else how I’m really doing. The heartache and the despair behind every step, every breath.
And she sees me.
And it’s only later that I remember to thank God. He answered my prayer.
And I think of all the unanswered prayers and how they suddenly pale in comparison to this one, clear, answered prayer.
And I feel the ice around my heart melting away, the bitterness that had dug a void in my mind, finally clearing.
He answered my prayer, He hears me. I am not alone.
And so I take out my phone and I start a note. Something that I can come back to, to remember, on the days when I feel alone, unheard. Because I’m human, and I so quickly forget what God has done for me. I need to remember. I need to keep track.
And so I write down: God sent a friend to see me when I needed to be seen most.
Then the answered prayers come back to me, cascading down from my memory:
How we prayed for Kristin’s womb, and it opened. Rowan.
How we prayed for Andrea’s womb, and it opened. Sophia.
We prayed for surgeries. We prayed for jobs. We prayed for the health of our kids. God answered.
I think of nights curled up in pain, begging for the day to come and the pain to end. Those nights are gone, the day has come.
I prayed for time and energy to write a book. It is written.
I prayed for less worry and more peace in my son’s heart – and look at him now!
And as I scroll back through the answered prayers, I wonder, how did I ever feel unheard? Unloved? Uncared for?
And I know it’s simply because I forget. I am human, that’s what we specialize in.
But I HAVE to remember. My heart needs it, my mind craves it. And so I write to remember. Remember that I am loved, I am heard.
So, dear friend, I am here to tell you that your prayers are heard. You are loved. You are cared for.
It’s time for you, too, to remember.