by Elizabeth Woodson
Over the last ten years, I’ve had a few distinct experiences that were painful and hard. Whether it was conflict at my job, a romantic relationship that had soured, or a season of loneliness, I struggled with wondering why the situation hadn’t worked out the way I hoped. Now, I didn’t lack clarity because I hadn’t prayed about it. On the contrary, I prayed a lot! But, I lacked clarity because God had chosen not to give me any answers. In these moments, it felt like God was silent, which left me asking, “What am I supposed to do if God won’t answer me?”
When God isn’t answering our prayers the way we want him to, it can be easy to believe that he has left us without the tools we need to move forward. But, our sovereign God never abandons his children! So, when it seems like God is silent, we have to go to the place where he is always speaking—the Bible. Over the years, three passages have helped me move forward even when I didn’t have the answers I desired.
The pain of a difficult season can be overwhelming. We often don’t know what to do with it and try numbing it with busyness, food, shopping, or something else. Others of us try to ignore it altogether. But, the Bible lets us know that it’s okay to not be okay. It also reminds us that to move forward we first need to bring our pain to the Lord.
The Book of Psalms has many psalms of lament. These songs and prayers show the people of God crying out to God with their unanswered questions. One of my favorites is Psalm 13. In this psalm, David cries out to God, being honest about how he believes God has let him down. Through his prayer, he tells God what’s wrong, asks him for help, and reaffirms his trust in God’s faithfulness.
God is not afraid of your emotions. Bring it all to him – your anger, frustration, or even sadness. As we are honest about our pain, I believe God provides us with strength because lament is pregnant with hope. We aren’t crying out to a God who cannot do anything. God is always working on our behalf even when it doesn’t look like it, and lament reminds us of this while providing comfort for our pain.
Uncertainty tends to lead us to believe that God has let us down. But, the stories of the people of God show us the character of God, reminding us that He is always faithful.
In Exodus 34:6, God introduces himself to Moses with these words, “ [I am] The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” With one sentence, God tells Moses what to expect from him. Whether life was going well for Moses or it was hard, this is how God promised to show up in his life. By remembering His character, we can trust that God will be faithful to care and provide for us. This empowers us to live by faith, living as if God is who he says He is, even when we might feel otherwise.
In Jeremiah 29:1-11, the prophet Jeremiah is talking to the nation of Israel as they navigate a difficult season. He tells them that while they were waiting for deliverance, they needed to live intentionally, showing up for each day. Even though they didn’t have what they wanted, God still had a mission for them to accomplish.
When God isn’t providing the answers we desire, our view of life can become cloudy. This cloudiness then makes us “spiritually frozen,” believing that we lack the direction we need to move forward. But as believers, we are called to faithfully live out God’s mission every day. So, in moments of uncertainty, we focus on what is certain, our calling to faithfully love God and love our neighbor. We continue working, caring for our families, building our business, and seeking the wellbeing of our neighbors. We pursue godly community and feed our faith through Bible reading and prayer. Whether they are large or small, each day we find ways to intentionally live on mission for God.
Moments of uncertainty can be overwhelming. But, even when God hasn’t given us the specific answers we want, we can always move forward with what He has told us. We lament our pain, remember what’s true, and show up for each day as we faithfully wait on Him.
Elizabeth Woodson is a Bible teacher and author who is passionate about equipping believers to understand the rich theological truths of Scripture. She loves helping people internalize their faith and connect it practically to everyday life. Her most recent book is Embrace Your Life: How to Find Joy When the Life You Have Is Not The Life You Hoped For, and she is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary.