Madison Church

Embracing the Silence: A Journey Through Unanswered Prayers and Spiritual Resilience

March 18, 2024 Stephen Feith
Madison Church
Embracing the Silence: A Journey Through Unanswered Prayers and Spiritual Resilience
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever felt your prayers were met with a deafening silence? That's the raw and often hidden struggle we're unpacking today. It's Stephen Feith here, embarking on a journey through the valleys of spiritual maturity, where the prayers we learned in childhood no longer suffice amidst the storms of life. As we confront the harrowing pain of lost dreams and the agony of grief, this conversation is an invitation to question, to doubt, and ultimately to grow a faith that can withstand the silence of heaven.

Elijah, David, and even Jesus grappled with the silence of God, their stories reflecting our own heart-wrenching pleas. Through their biblical narratives, we open up a dialogue about the complexities of a faith that endures unanswered prayers. It's a chapter in our spiritual journey that calls for honesty in our doubts and steadfastness in our trust. As your guide, I'll share not only scriptural insights but also my family's personal battles with unemployment and the toll it takes on one's soul and savings—reminding us all that we're not alone in this trek towards understanding and resilience.

Navigating the murky waters of unanswered prayers doesn't just test our faith; it shapes our very selves. We'll explore how God, the artist, uses our imperfections and struggles as the canvas for his most profound work. While we may seek immediate relief from our burdens, it's in the waiting and the trusting where we often discover the deepest growth. So let's gather our courage, lean on each other, and find solace and purpose in the journey, always remembering that even in the silence, we're never truly alone. Join me on Madison Church Online, where we're not just seeking answers, but seeking a faith that can endure the questions.

Support the show

If you enjoyed this episode, consider subscribing to Madison Church on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback means the world to us, so please take a moment to leave a review and share the podcast with your friends and family.

For inquiries, suggestions, or collaboration opportunities, please reach out to us at help@madisonchurch.com.

For the latest updates and behind-the-scenes content, follow us on social media:

New episodes are released every Monday, so mark your calendars and join us weekly!

If you'd like to support the show, you can make a donation here. Your generosity helps us continue to bring you meaningful content.

This podcast is intended for general informational purposes only. The views expressed by the hosts or guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Madison Church. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. For detailed information regarding our terms of use and privacy policy, please visit our website.

Thank you for being part of the Madison Church community! We appreciate your support.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Madison Church Online. I'm Stephen Feet, lead pastor and, as I was just talking about, the last few months we've been in a couple different series aimed at helping your faith grow up, helping you spiritually mature, because oftentimes we grow up and our faith doesn't Like. Physically you have no choice. But you grow up. As a kid you get taller and as an adult you get wider, and or you get grayer or you get balder. I mean you have no choice but to physically change a emotionally you go through changes, you get more mature. Some of us we've stayed in our middle school maturity, but it's a fight every day to stay there. But we grow up, mature emotionally, but when it comes to spiritually, that is not granted. As a matter of fact, it takes a lot of work to keep up your spiritual growth, and so we've been mostly talking about the Bible and prayer because in our faith, those tend to be the two areas that we lean on the most, and rightfully so. When it comes to growing spiritually that I can't think of two better habits and disciplines in your own life than reading the Bible and praying. Okay, but those are also the areas that tend to stay immature. I mean it stays immature. A lot of you have opinions on things like free will or predestination and it's like deep and it's wide, but then at the same time, when we're talking about some very basic things, about prayer in the Bible, there's just a lot of illiteracy or there's a lot of confusion. And so throughout this series it's just been trying to like let's all just go on a journey together, let's deconstruct some things, let's learn some things, and by the time this series is over, we should all be better off for it.

Speaker 1:

As children, we're taught basic prayers that rhyme with like they're like nursery rhymes and they're basic and you've got to start somewhere. And so, while I kind of have been knocking on that a little bit, I want to continue to acknowledge you have to start somewhere. Just unfortunate that for a lot of us that's still where we're at. We're still on the memorized prayer that we learned back in the nursery, and they don't hold up to real-life problems, do they? Those little nursery rhymes that we've been talking about?

Speaker 1:

There's a trauma all of a sudden in your life. The nursery rhymes don't help then, because you get older, you develop a chronic illness, or maybe you had a chronic illness you were born with. So those little nursery rhyme prayers don't help. Then there's the death of a dream. Is there like a worse sting than the death of a dream, something that you hoped for, worked for, and it is like by far not possible anymore, it's just gone? If there is something worse than the death of a dream, it'd be the loss of something you lived for, the loss of something that you live for. And what's worse than that is the loss of someone you loved more than life itself. And when these things happen to us and they will eventually happen to all of us If you are not there now, you will get there, and if you've been there before, you will. You know, inevitably you will get there again.

Speaker 1:

Our faith gets hurt because we're ill-equipped to deal with it, because those nursery rhymes were meant to help us when the biggest concern of our day was having good dreams tonight. But as we become adults, having nightmares and good dreams, that really gets low on the list of priorities to us. And then, when our faith gets hurt, how we view ourselves often becomes a casualty as well. We view ourselves maybe I'm not spiritual enough, maybe I'm not good enough, maybe I'm bad. I got sin in my life I need to deal with and then, as a result, our relationship with God gets hurt.

Speaker 1:

Now, I'm a believer that most people, if not all people, pray. From time to time there's a situation that comes up. I've heard of atheists who talk and they say, well, sometimes I just accidentally pray. But then they say, well, I'm not praying, I'm just kind of thinking thoughts. But I think most of us pray, and a lot of times I think that they're very little prayers. I don't want to get pulled over. I mentioned that a few weeks ago. I don't want to get caught by my dad. I mentioned that a few weeks ago.

Speaker 1:

Favor for the test, you didn't prepare for parking spot close to the store. On those rainy, sleety days like today, you're like please, let me have a parking spot right in front of the church. Our favorite sports teams to win the big game. We pray, and so whoever's praying for the 49ers to beat the Packers, I'm begging you, please stop, because God here's your prayers more than mine, and so you got to stop.

Speaker 1:

And then there are the big and serious prayers, though. Right, you pray for your adult child who has abandoned their faith, to find their faith again or to find a faith that they can resonate with and walk into. You ask God to help you restore your marriage. God, it's broken. I don't know what else to do. The therapy doesn't work, nothing works. God, will you help me? And you plead, you beg with God bodily healing from this chronic illness, whatever I'm going through.

Speaker 1:

And it's when these prayers go unanswered that our faith stings the most. It's not the little prayers, but these big ones, and we all have unanswered prayers in our lives, and that's what I want to talk to you about this morning, because when we have unanswered prayers, not only does it hurt, but I bet there's someone in your life you know who's walked away from faith. They've abandoned God altogether because of unanswered prayers. The weight of unanswered prayers how would they just keep compounding and adding up? As a matter of fact, I don't think it's unfair to say that you might be in the room right now or watching or listening online, and you might be there right now. You are very close to just giving up because of unanswered prayers, and what I hope and my goal and I'm always trying to be transparent with you when I'm writing, what is my goal for this talk is to help you with unanswered prayer, but I wanna let you know that it's not to give you answers about unanswered prayer.

Speaker 1:

I've done that before. We've sometimes talked about like how prayer is like a stoplight and there's a red light when God says no and there's a green light when God says yes and there's the yellow light when God says wait. We've talked about things like why do bad things happen to good people? And we've talked about how well this is God's world and God has a will, but it's not the only will cause. There's God's war and there's spiritual warfare. We've talked about that.

Speaker 1:

We're not gonna talk about that today. I wanna talk to you about what happens when your prayers aren't being answered and God is silent. I wanna talk to you about when your prayers aren't being answered and you can't see God. I wanna talk to you when your prayers aren't being answered and you come here and you expect to experience God and you hear me praying that that we're here and we're experiencing God, but you don't. That's what I wanna talk to you about today. But you know what's ironic about talking about this? We're not honest about it. Like we're not honest and it seems like the more spiritually mature you are, the more you lie about unanswered prayer. It's gonna be okay. You just gotta have faith. God is working. I'm totally content with the yellow light. It's just like you're lying. It sucks, it hurts, it's keeping you awake in the middle of the night. Why can't we talk about that? And it's not an issue of faith, because in the Bible, the writers of the Bible, old and New Testament they're honest about it and they make no attempts to cover it up. They will let you know what's going on.

Speaker 1:

And First Kings, chapter 19, verse four, elijah prays that God would kill him. He's suicidal. He has suicidal ideation. God, take me out. I know some of you have prayed that David prays fervently for a child's life. His child, one of his children, is sick and he prays and he prays and he prays and everyone's praying. David, a man after God's own heart. The child dies. Any of you who have experienced that loss or miscarriage, you know what David is feeling.

Speaker 1:

Jeremiah a flight out accuses God of hiding. Are you there right now? You're like God. I'm praying and I'm praying and I'm praying. Why are you withholding yourself from me? Jeremiah, just straight up, asks God why are you hiding?

Speaker 1:

Jesus prays for the unity of his followers and we know that's not happening. That is a 2,000 year old, unanswered prayer that the sinless son of God himself prayed, and there's no doubt grieving today that his church is not united. We are not united, and the closer we get to that second or first Tuesday in November, the more it's gonna become apparent just how divided we are. That is an unanswered prayer and these instances are not presented with simple resolutions. Elijah praise God, will you take me? It's not like there's a simple solution to that. It's not like David prays for his child that's died and then all of a sudden, boom, a resurrection happens. Nobody's told Jesus, just have a little bit more faith and your prayer will be answered. I imagine the faith department Jesus is probably pretty good. There are no easy answers and the biblical writers are okay with that. They're okay laying out their grievances, their doubts and their desperation, so they don't feel the need to be optimistic or to sugarcoat the reality of their experiences, like many of us do.

Speaker 1:

Listen to the soleness here. Go off on God, god, god, my God, why did you dump me? Miles from nowhere, doubled up with pain. I call God all day long. No answer, nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning, and you are, you indifferent, above it all, leaning back on the cushions of Israel's praise. At this point I would start walking away from this guy because he's probably gonna get struck by lightning. Right, he's calling out God. He says we know you were there for our parents. They cried out for your help and you gave it. They trusted you and they lived a good life.

Speaker 1:

Let's break the Psalm down right now. You can relate to this. This might be the Psalm you relate to the most out of every Psalm that is written. God, I feel so alone. That's the first line of this. I feel so alone, god. Why am I here? Some of you it might be. Why am I here? This stage of life that I'm in?

Speaker 1:

Some of you might be literally asking why Madison, wisconsin? Why am I here, god, god, where are you? Where are you, god? How come you're silent? I'm awake at 3 am worrying about my problems, begging you, god, to do something, and you don't seem like you care. You just don't seem to care. Are the only prayers you hear, the prayers of worship, the only time, god, you cares? If I'm complimenting you, that's what the psalmist is asking. So when I come to you with my garbage, god, do you just not care anymore. God, I've seen you answer the prayers of others. Why not mine?

Speaker 1:

Imagine many of you know exactly what this writer is saying. You might have prayed those prayers in the last 12 hours. We know what it's like to have unanswered prayer and every single one of us in the room. If you've ever prayed a prayer, you've had a prayer unanswered. But why don't we talk about it as honestly as the writers of the Bible do? Spiritual maturity, growing up, mature prayer life and understanding of prayer means that we have to know how to navigate silence and to do so with faith and trust.

Speaker 1:

And so, if you want to follow along with me, I'm going to go to Mark 14. I'll have the words on the screen, but you can use your phones, you can use those Bibles around. You're going to Mark 14, where we find Jesus in the garden on Good Friday. This is a couple of days before Easter, so we're about a week and a half early talking about it today, but this is where we find Jesus, and Jesus is in this moment and he's just like you and me. As a matter of fact, in my book, I write that this is the time that I believe Jesus is most like you and me. Jesus did a lot of stuff in his life that you and I simply can't relate to. But in this scene we're going to see, jesus is just like you and me.

Speaker 1:

So, picking up in verse 32, last supper is already coming, gone. Judas is on his way to betray him. They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane and Jesus said sit here while I go and pray. He took his three best friends, peter, james and John, with him and he became deeply troubled and distressed. I told them my soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. And this is what I mean on Jesus being super relatable. Right now it's a Friday night. He is grieved, he is crushed. He's got one friend betraying him. He knows he's going to die. He's stressed out. He says my soul is crushed.

Speaker 1:

But I want to point out that Jesus did do something a lot of us do differently. Jesus is aware to some degree I don't know what, to what degree I don't think anyone can say with certainty to what degree what's about the transpire, but he knows to some degree it's not good. And instead of isolating himself, instead of going away by himself to pray in his prayer closet all alone. He takes his best friends, he takes his guys. He says come with me, I'm hurting and I need you.

Speaker 1:

When you find yourself in a hard place, when your prayers aren't being answered, do you choose to be vulnerable with those you love or do you choose to withdraw and isolate? As part of having unanswered prayer and living with that is following Jesus, as he dealt with unanswered prayer or what will be an unanswered prayer, and Jesus brings his companions. You see, one of the things I think that we're like cursed with in North America in the 21st century is that we assume discipleship is knowledge, and I'm convinced we know more about Greek culture than Peter James and John knew about their own culture. I'm convinced we do. The problem with our faith and when it gets stunted is not a knowledge issue, it is a follow issue, it is a doing issue. So when we're dealing with unanswered prayer, it's not up here, it's what did Jesus do? And so following Jesus when it comes to unanswered prayer means inviting your friends along with you.

Speaker 1:

Following Jesus means not withdrawing. Following Jesus means not isolating, and you might be someone in here today. You're like you're. I'm not very social, I'm kind of introverted, and when I'm alone, I need to be, or when I'm suffering, I need to be alone. And I would just say that's what makes following Jesus hard. He says it's hard. He's not lying to you. He says it's hard. Why is it hard? Not because you have to pass a test, but because when you're hurting and your natural inclination is to isolate and withdraw, jesus says hold on, bring them with you. This is better for you, and I feel better right now. He says this is better for you. Now.

Speaker 1:

I want to point something else out too about this. I think it's very, very important to do Jesus at the end of his life, his earthly life, and he's having this moment, and he says I need my friends. He has not not reached out to them in weeks. He has not not seen them in months. Jesus has spent every day or most days with these people for years before he ever taps them and says I need you now, and I want you to begin to think about that with your own relationships and your own health. If the only time you're ever reaching out to your people is when you're broken, you're at the end of your rope, you're at despair.

Speaker 1:

We're also not following in the ways of Jesus. You see, this is a two-way street. I need to be able to tap you and say I need help right now, but they need to be able to tap you and say I need your help right now and more times than not. Yes, peter needed Jesus to help more than Jesus needed Peter. But that's how this goes. We invest in relationships. That's what it means to follow in the way of Jesus.

Speaker 1:

So then, when we come up to a period, a season of unanswered prayer, we don't find ourselves alone or isolated, or without help or without support, because God knows. Jesus knows For you and me when we get to that point dark, despair, unanswered prayer. He knows, and you know because you know people just like this who have left their faith. He knows, if you go at it alone, your faith just might become the casualty. And he has a vision for you, a long-term vision that includes unanswered prayer, which is where we're going.

Speaker 1:

Next. Jesus continues. He went a little further. He fell on the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting Him might pass Him by. Abba, father, he cried out. Everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine. And Jesus' darkest moment, in which he realizes this prayer probably isn't going to be answered, and that's the reality. As he goes further beyond this moment, he becomes more apparent this prayer isn't going to be answered. Jesus chooses to go further into prayer. Remember, we've already told he's grief-stricken, he's already told His guys I am being crushed right now. And instead of walking away from prayer, jesus doubles down.

Speaker 1:

I think for a lot of us, when we go through a difficult time we're going through a difficult season and really serious things I'm not trying to make light of that at all when we're going through really hard things, I think we isolate. Jesus says don't do that. But I think we kind of give up on prayer. I think we do two things with prayer. I think we pray right away God take it away. Okay, god's not going to take it away. And then I'm going to do everything myself, exhaust all of my options, and then, if that doesn't work, then fine, I'll go back to prayer as my last resort again.

Speaker 1:

But we see, what happens is when Jesus is going through the thick of it, he doubles down on prayer, he goes back to God. So when we're going through unanswered prayer. We need people, but we also can't quit on prayer, and he's asking for God to do something. I like how you know whether it's the Lord's prayer or this prayer. We're like we're telling God. God, remember, you can do all things. Like God needs the reminder that he can do all things, but he's what he's doing, I think, is expressing that God is powerful and he can do all things, and maybe it was more for Jesus than it was for God.

Speaker 1:

But what happens when you and I go through a dark time and on answer time, do we not begin to doubt, like the psalmist did, god, where are you? God, can't you do this? Jesus is showing us. Hey, in those moments it is really easy to doubt God's power. Just say I'm going to get it. Remind yourself that God can do all things. Reassure yourself that God can do all things. What I love about this next part, though, is, up until this point, jesus is completely relatable to you and me.

Speaker 1:

Bad time Going through unanswered prayer. He says God, I don't want to do this. God don't let me do this. You've prayed that right. God, I don't want to do this, god don't make me do this. Here's where Jesus and you and me, like we take different turns here. Jesus says but I want your will ultimately to be done and not my own. And I think a lot of us are just gonna be honest when we're saying nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, don't want your will. God, you could tell me what your will is. Let me make an executive decision. Look at your will, look at my will, compare them, pros and cons. I'll think about it, I'll even pray about it. But God, I want to know what my options are. But Jesus offers surrender. It's the surrender of His will. And so, when you're going through these seasons of unanswered prayer, we need people in our support system, we need to double down on prayer, we need to remind ourselves of God's great power and, finally, we need to surrender. When we're asking those questions God, where are you, god? Where am I God? Why aren't you listening? We need to remember but not my will, your will.

Speaker 1:

Week one of the series everyone was like, yeah, we pray for relationship with God. I know I got good feedback from you. Everyone was a very positive message. Right? I'll flip thing out. We need relationship and we need God's will. And then we get to the end of the series we're talking about unanswered prayer and we're like you know, I don't think that week one was that great. I don't know if that's why I should pray anymore for God's will to be done, but that's it. Throughout the series we've said that a theology of prayer is rooted and seeks first and foremost God's will and an ever-growing relationship with Him. And if that's true, if I still kind of have you on the hook for believing that, I want to kind of offer a little bit of an explanation as to why you might be going through a season of unanswered prayer, not answers, but I want to kind of provide, maybe, some clarity.

Speaker 1:

I think a lot of times the temptation is to run to give up when our prayers aren't being answered, to find answers other places. Jesus acknowledges himself that's how we feel. He says tell his friends keep watching, pray, so you will not give in to temptation. Your spirit is willing but your body is weak. He says I know you want to do this, he's like, but I also know you're kind of a slacker and so I need you to be conscious of this and devote yourself to prayer. Jesus acknowledges it's going to be hard to push through, but Jesus is not an enabler. Jesus is not going to say just take the path of least resistance, just do whatever feels good. Jesus is going to challenge us to step up and to do hard things. I'm not speaking as of just someone who's like studied. This Unanswered prayer is something Megan and I deal with every day since we've moved here.

Speaker 1:

Before we moved here, she was teaching and was offered teaching jobs in Springfield, missouri. That's her calling, that's what she wants to do. It's kind of funny when, when we started dating, I was going to go and be a therapist or a counselor, and then I remember talking to her before we got engaged saying, hey, I feel like I'm actually being called into ministry, maybe be a pastor, probably a church planter. I'm going to make absolutely no money the rest of my life. There's no benefits, there's no retirement. If you want out, I totally accept that. And she said I will never find anyone better than you. And that's not what she said. But we did get married so obviously she was with him.

Speaker 1:

But we felt like we both felt this way that Madison, wisconsin, was where we were called to be, and so I guess we just assumed that, like you had a bunch of teaching job offers in Missouri. We would just move up here and you would get some, and then it didn't happen. And then it didn't happen and years have gone by. We've been here now 10 years and it hasn't happened. We've tried everything and we've prayed, we've fasted, we've asked you to pray with us. We've all prayed. We've done everything new resumes. We've reached out to people. She's switched jobs, got more experience, more diverse experience, and we keep praying and we keep praying. And I know that she's disappointed and heartbroken. Now let me tell you that me, her husband, on the other hand, I've also made this offer let's leave.

Speaker 1:

I don't want you to be stuck in Madison Sacrificing your ambitions. You're calling your career because God, let us hear. If God's not gonna answer the prayer, guess what I? I can, and you might think I'm being arrogant. No, I really can. My friend who lives in Las Vegas. They're paying teachers to move to Vegas. They cover your moving to help you put a down payment. They'll give you a job tomorrow. You see, I can answer that prayer, god, I can do it right now. Where do you want to work? What grade? What? Just moves to Vegas, we'll move anywhere else. You want to get a job? That's my heart. Like God. We moved here for you.

Speaker 1:

This is an unanswered prayer. Why is it happening? I don't know. I can't tell you. I don't have any fluffy answers, I don't want to hear the God's world, god's war conversation. This is a freaking job we're talking about here. Why isn't it happening? I don't know.

Speaker 1:

And you'll appreciate that Megan in her faithfulness Says no, god called us here, we'll stay, and that just frustrates me even more. I'm like God she's here like why don't you answer this prayer? God, I've seen all that you can do. I have faith. I teach people about prayer. I teach people about unanswered prayer. Can't you do me a solid?

Speaker 1:

And at this point Can I just be shallow with you? You guys know I'm pragmatic, right? Can I just tell you the loss income over 10 years of her not having a teaching job One year is not a big deal. 10 years we've lost out on a hundred thousand dollars. That's a tenth, at least a ten thousand dollars. I'm like, look at the money we lost. Look, I already mentioned I don't have retirement. I'm getting old Not that old yet, but I'm like we need some retirement here. We've lost out on ten years of retired and so Megan will be like, don't be shallow.

Speaker 1:

Actually, she called me out on that at our small group the other night because they're talking about her getting this job. She's like, yeah, you know, I just really like working with the kids and blah, blah, blah and I'm like the money. And she was like, no, that's not it at all. I saw him just ask you so, pure God, why don't you answer her prayer? Why are you answering mine? This is real to me. This is real to us. This isn't like an unanswered prayer we forget about. This is a prayer that she probably thinks about every time she punches in and punches out every day. This is a prayer that every time we're doing our monthly budget, we think about. That's this unanswered prayer.

Speaker 1:

How have we been able to now, last ten years Good friends, good friends in Madison, good companions, a good faith community, a good church we haven't isolated ourselves. We've told you about our struggles and you've rallied around us. We've doubled down on prayer. When we get we this has been true of us since we've gone married when we get pissed off at God, we double down on prayer. It's our bad attitude. It really is. We're not just gonna like walk away quietly, we're writing management Okay, and so that's what we do and we're believing that at some point this season, this long season, is gonna make sense.

Speaker 1:

We're believing it. It doesn't feel like it. There's a lot of animosity right now. For me, that's what this is me and God. We have a sore subject here, but I know it's gonna make sense someday. I know he's doing something and I just keep the faith and I keep praying, not my will, but your will, this message of unanswered prayers, deeply challenging stuff, the culture around us. When you've hit a drought, your friends and family, whether they're churchgoing people or not, they're gonna say you must be doing something wrong. Have you read this book? Have you listened to this podcast? Have you talked to a therapist? Have you seen a doctor? And look, hey, I'm not against any of those things. We've talked about those things a lot. I recommend books all the time, but sometimes the world around us, they just don't accept that you might be going through an unanswered prayer, because God loves you and God cares about you.

Speaker 1:

Think about the Old Testament story of Job. I won't read any of it, but I do got a picture of Job here, if you guys remember. Job from the Old Testament Loses his wife, loses all of his kids, loses all of his income. I mean, he loses everything. And in his three friends, who are very spiritual people and love Job, they come to him and the entire story is these three friends, who are well intended, are telling Job you must have done something wrong, bud. We're here to help you figure that out. And once we figure it out, god is gonna bless you again. And then they say you know what? Your kids must have done something wrong and that's why they all died. We're here to help you out. And Job is pretty convinced he didn't.

Speaker 1:

Job keeps going back no, no, no. I'm pretty sure I've been faithful, I'm pretty sure I've been stuck to it, and this is like what the culture around us does. They sit by us and they said why have you done this? Have you done this? Have you done this well intended? But they want to rush us through unanswered prayer seasons and I want you, if you're in a season of unanswered prayer, just stop in the slowdown and to look around Pete Greg and his book God on mute.

Speaker 1:

He says how very fragile our faith must be if we just can't remain Sad, scared, confused and doubting for a while. He says your faith is Pretty broken If the minute an unanswered prayer just completely scares you off, if you can't be sad. That's not a strong faith, pete. Actually he begins to go in unpack and he goes hard. He's like you know. It's easy To love God and have faith when your prayers are getting answered, when you go to church and you can feel God's presence easy. Then, when you like, do a little scratch off lottery and you win a hundred bucks. Oh, praise God then. But Pete says boy, how many of us? The minute something goes wrong, we just bail. And what Pete argues is maybe you're going through a season of unanswered prayer Because God's investing in you, because you don't get credit for loving God. When it's easy, god, when it's easy the character is formed. When loving God is difficult. Nikki Gumbel does the Alpha course.

Speaker 1:

He says this is a sign of Christian maturity when we continue to believe in God's love, even when we don't see it or feel it. We believe in the sun even when it's not shining. We continue to believe in God's love even in times of darkness, when we don't feel his love. See, a lot of us. We think we've got it all together. We're trying to keep it all together because we think that if we're broken, god can't use us. We idolize perfection. I can't be imperfect, I can't make a mistake. That rules me out from God. Or, worse yet, what if I get canceled? In our culture, we try to be perfect and then we break. Right. It happens Whether you drop it, or you drop it, or you come up to me and you force it. It drops and it breaks and all of the pieces are there. And because we live in 2024, the 21st century, it's probably already on Instagram and everyone can see our brokenness and we think well, it's over. Unanswered season of life. I'm broken.

Speaker 1:

Have you ever heard of Kintsugi? You raise your hand. If you've heard this. I just heard about this, preparing for this message, a couple of weeks ago.

Speaker 1:

This is traditional Japanese art. It's about repairing broken pottery. This is absolutely amazing. They don't just super glue it, like you know, mom and dad did when you broke a toy. You got the super glue and it's clear, because you don't wanna see how your toy is broken. This is a philosophy, these Japanese artists in this culture. It's actually a philosophy that we're not gonna hide the brokenness. The brokenness tells the story, and so what they do instead is that's gold, that is real powdered gold that they mix with glue. So you take a pot or a vase that at some point might only be worth a hundred bucks and that vase breaks and now all of a sudden we're putting 24 karat gold all over this thing. If you were to buy this vase right here, it's on sale for $20,000. It's a broken vase for $20,000.

Speaker 1:

And don't think that it's just because they put gold on it. You would be wrong. It's not just because they put gold on it. You know that. They're professional artists who dedicate their whole lives to Kintsugi. That's what they do. For example, if I fixed that pot, it is not worth $20,000. Even if I use 24 karat gold. God know what I'm doing. I don't know what I'm looking at. I have no experience. But to an artist, a master, somebody who's been recognized at being the best in what they do, if you break a pot and you wanna bring it to them, that pot now becomes a piece of art, the only one in the world like it. It might cost $20,000, but to someone else it's priceless, they say about Kintsugi.

Speaker 1:

It teaches us that broken is not something to hide, but something to display with pride. So think about your own brokenness Sudden trauma, chronic illness, the death of a dream, the loss of something you lived for, the loss of someone you love more than life itself. Don't put clear superglue on it. Don't hide it, embrace it. Maybe you're in a season of brokenness now because God, the ultimate artist, is doing a work in you that he could not do when you were one piece. He's doing something in you. He is making you more valuable. I know that's hard, because you're thinking of all the mistakes you've ever made, all of the bad things you've ever done, all the things you've prayed for and the unanswered prayers, and you're thinking there's no way, god. But just like with Megan and I praying for her job or the things that you're praying for, it's broken, but I believe God is working. I believe he's taken this base that might be worth $100 and making it something that's going to be priceless.

Speaker 1:

When we read Ephesians 2.10, we read that we are God's masterpiece. We tend to think of we were created in the womb and people, aren't we just great? But what if Paul knew that wasn't just it? You didn't ever stop being God's masterpiece the day you were born, that, even through your brokenness, god, the artist, is putting good stuff in you, around you, and making you priceless. You see, unanswered prayer isn't something to rush through. Unanswered prayer isn't something to dodge or to skip, but it might just be the process of God doing his best work ever in you. And as I close here, I wanna remind you God is always with you, even when you can't see him, and even when you can't feel him, and even when you're yelling at him or you're praying that you wish you would just die. We are promised over and over again, those same authors of the Bible, who are brutally honest, who tell us all of these things, also never, ever waver in that God is always with us.

Speaker 1:

In Psalm 139, verse seven through 10, is there any place I can go to avoid your spirit to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you're there. If I go underground, you're there. If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, you'd find me in a minute. You're already there waiting. And then I said to myself oh, he even sees me in the dark. At night, I'm immersed in the light. It's a fact that darkness isn't dark to you. Night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you. So, whatever you're going through and maybe you have a list of 100 unanswered prayers or there's just one big one. Don't rush the season of God, the artist doing his best work in you.

Growing Spiritually
Navigating Unanswered Prayer With Faith
Navigating Unanswered Prayer and Relationship
Season of Unanswered Prayer and Brokenness
God's Unanswered Prayers