Why is this happening? Am I not praying enough? Does God even listen to me?
In the past, I used to think that if I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and got baptised, I would have a problem-free life.
As you might also know from personal experience, I was totally wrong. My life as a Christian got harder. Instead of having less problems, my expectations were constantly “ruffled” by challenge after challenge.
Born into a Christian family, my parents brought me to church from birth. I enjoyed my Sunday school days, yet I never really knew who Jesus was. This didn’t stop me from getting baptised at 16, which was normal for youth my age.
So when the problems and failures started cropping up, I blamed Jesus. Maybe it was better not to be Christian at all, since it wasn’t making my life better as I had expected. In fact, my non-Christian friends were having a way more smooth and successful life compared to me!
What I wanted most then was to get a scholarship and study overseas. I thought that this would guarantee a bright future, make it easy to get a good job, plus, a scholarship holder would be seen as smart.
So I put in the time and effort, self-studying, going for tuition classes… but the chance eluded me no matter how many times I tried. Why didn’t God fulfil my dream? What about my future now?
This was all His fault.
It didn’t help that at this time, my mother was diagnosed with a severe illness. Relatives advised me to give up my ideal of going abroad and stay with the family, which caused me to question and doubt God even more. All I could see was a dark future ahead.
I hated Jesus for not giving me what I wanted. I hated this pointless label of “Christian”.
One day, I stumbled upon a video on Instagram, it was a testimony video from my church. I don’t know why but I chose to listen to it. The testimony was about how problems in life are inevitable and accepting Jesus isn’t a way to escape them.
However, it is through our challenges in life that our faith is trained, strengthened to depend on Jesus and trust Him more and more. It spoke straight to me!
We approach God like a child who comes to his father knowing that he already wants to give him the best.
A week before I had watched this video, I had had a serious conversation with my pastor. He told me that when we pray for something, it’s not about forcing God to give us what we want. Instead, we approach him like a child who comes to his father knowing that he already wants to give him the best.
Thus, a father has the right to give what he deems best – and this may not be what his children have asked for. And it is the same with our Heavenly Father. God always wants to give us the best things in the best times – according to His perfect ways and knowledge.
I didn’t want to give these incidents much thought at first, but I was tired of holding onto the anger at God. So I tried praying, asking God what He actually wanted for my life, and to give me a resilient heart to accept the failures and understand His plan.
Through my time spent praying, I started to see the good in what I had all along seen as bad. Slowly but surely, I started to understand why God had not given me what I wanted. His plans were never meant to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11) – not even withholding the scholarship!
I eventually got a scholarship, though not to the university I had hoped. But the delay actually gave me time to be with my mum in her last moments, before the Lord called her home. I believe that He was actually keeping me with the family until she passed away.
“But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 52:12)
I might not fully understand what God is doing in my life, even now, but that’s why the Christian walk is a lifelong journey. I now see that challenges do train our faith to grow. Trusting Jesus fully may be hard – but He is good and promises good things.
- Have you ever prayed for something you wanted but did not receive it? How did you feel? How did you process that?
- Are you dealing with disappointment in God now? How so?
- Have you felt like giving up on the faith after repeated setbacks and disappointments? What kept you going?
- How can we build godly perspectives on life’s challenges and strengthen our faith?