When I Don't Like God's Answer

by Allyson Todd February 26, 2020

I love running. Now some of you may be tempted to click the “x” in the corner and find a more relatable article to read today. But before you do, let me ensure you that this article won’t use running as a metaphor or example for the Christian life. To tell you the truth, I’m actually not a very good runner. I am short, slow, and there are moments where it is exceptionally hard for me. I run for exercise, but often I run to allow my mind rest that I can’t find many other places. You may have a different activity that helps you think straight and brings you to a place of worship before the Lord. For me, it’s running, strange as that may be. 

But one night, I ran so I wouldn’t quit. My speed matched the rollercoaster in my head. I started out fast and angry, took longer strides than my height normally allows, and kept a speed fueled by frustration. Months before, my prayers were doused in honesty. Lord, you know the desires of my heart. Would you give me this good thing? But only if it is how I can glorify You best. With each ink-covered page of my prayer journal, my desire to hear God’s answer grew. There was no clarity from Him, so I kept praying and hoping and waking up to the sound of my heart beating with rapid anxiety morning after morning. And then one day, an answer came. It was the opposite of what I hoped. The moment I received the answer was easy. I was disappointed and frustrated, but I knew those feelings would fester if I didn’t run. 

So there I was, running so I wouldn’t crash and burn, angry with the Lord and frustrated that He would make me deal with this. Do you not know, Lord? Have you not heard me? I asked for a good thing. 

I couldn’t keep up my pace, so I slowed down, and as my pace decreased, so did the frustration in my thoughts. Allyson, you asked for what would bring Him the most glory. 

What did I have to be angry about? I could flip through my prayer journal and prove to myself the content of my prayers. I asked God to give me what would glorify Him most. I wanted something, and when I knew I wouldn’t receive it, the pain was real and worth tears. My anger toward God, however, was not warranted. He did exactly what I asked of Him. So what right did I have to be angry? Was my anger rooted in disappointment? 

It was rooted in my desire to choose my will. I wanted to be God. 

I needed to be put in my place, and right there, the words of Isaiah 40 nearly stopped me in my tracks. 

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand?

Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure
or weighed the mountains on a balance
and the hills on the scales?
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
or who gave him counsel?
Who did he consult?
Who gave him understanding
and taught him the paths of justice?
Who taught him knowledge
and showed him the way of understanding?”

- Isaiah 40:12-14

Not me, Lord. I gave you no knowledge, no understanding, I taught you nothing. I forgot that I am a drop in a bucket, a speck of dust on the scales, nothing and empty before You (Isaiah 40:15-17).

I forgot who God is and I needed a reminder. 

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you
from the beginning?
Have you not considered
the foundations of the earth?
God is enthroned above the circle of the earth”

- Isaiah 40: 21-22a

So often I try to sit on a throne that does not belong to me and never will. I act like I don’t know that God spoke and the world was formed, all its intricacies and complexities, every emotion I feel and every time my body moves. He made it and He reigns above it all. Why would I act as if I am His equal when I can’t even praise Him when He answers my prayer?

“Jacob, why do you say,
and, Israel, why do you assert:
‘My way is hidden from the Lord,
and my claim is ignored by my God?’
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the whole earth.
He never becomes faint or weary;
there is no limit to his understanding.”

- Isaiah 40:27-28

God is God and I am not. He understands all things and I do not. He formed all things for my good and His glory, and I did not. My heart cannot help but sin when left to its own ways; I am in desperate need of someone to strengthen my heart and make it pure. I deceived myself and thought I had the right to question God, to turn my back and scoff at Him, the Creator of everything. Here would be the time to quit - to be so overwhelmed by my propensity to sin that I throw my hands up and say, “I’ll never get this right.” And right here is where God intervenes. He knows that I can’t get it right. He knows how easy it is to be discouraged and weary. You know what it is to feel defeated by sin, right?

That’s exactly why He made it right for you and me. Jesus came down to us, lived for us, died for us, rose for us, ascended for us, and sat down on the throne for us. All this He did because we are faint, powerless, weary, and we stumble and fall. 

“He gives strength to the faint
and strengthens the powerless.
Youths may become faint and weary,
and young men stumble and fall,
but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint.”

- Isaiah 40:29-31

His gave His life for yours and mine so that His strength can be yours and mine. Whether we’re running from Him in frustration or limping toward Him in desperation, He offers His steady arm to lead us home. And there we can rest, knowing that our failures do not cause God to fear or be flustered. He is God, we are not, He redeemed us from our sin, we did not. This is the greatest comfort we could ever find.