In the middle of giving a talk a few years ago, I almost broke down. As I was recounting how I had begged God to save the life of my son, I felt my chest tighten. I remembered how desperate I felt. How sure I was that my begging would be effective. How much I wanted God to do what I had asked.
After all, he is God. Nothing is impossible for him. I had never wanted anything so much in my life, and it was almost inconceivable that God would say “no” to such an earnest request. It seemed good and right and in keeping with God’s character.
But God did say “no.” Even as I was pleading for my son’s life, he was dying. How does a good God let that happen? I couldn’t understand that. And I remembered with vivid clarity many other times that I had begged God for things that he refused. As a child, I begged God to heal me. In my twenties, I begged God to repair a broken romantic relationship. And several years ago, I begged God to bring my husband back.
I wondered even as I was speaking, “Why doesn’t God answer my deepest prayers?” Of course, I had thought through my theology before delivering my message. My talk was about finding God in the middle of our mess. The point of my talk was that God uses all things in our lives for our joy and his glory.
But as I was saying the words, “I begged God…” I was flooded with the emotions that I had felt decades earlier. Once again, I felt the raw pain of begging God and wondering why he had not answered me the way I wanted. At the time, I had felt abandoned. At the time, it seemed as though God didn’t care at all.