Reconciling Pain and Prayer with God’s Love

Reconciling Pain and Prayer with God’s Love

by Wayne Stiles

Because God can stop our pain, we think He should.So we pray. And pray. But nothing happens.

Sad Woman Reconciling Pain and Prayer with Gods Love

(Photo by Jiri Hodan. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

That’s what occurred with Mary and Martha. They sent a message to Jesus that their brother Lazarus lay sick. But instead of immediately traveling to Bethany, Jesus stayed right where He was beyond the Jordan River. When He finally did arrive, Lazarus had been dead four days.

In other words, Jesus had taken His sweet time showing up.

From what happened next, I see several lessons to help us reconcile pain and prayer with God’s love.

What We Want from God

“Lord, if You had been here,” Martha cried, “my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). When Mary later approached Jesus, she fell at His feet and echoed Martha’s grief, word for word, through bitter tears:

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).

The sisters’ words revealed their faith in Jesus’ ability. But they also reveal their disappointment in His delay. Their assumption? Because Jesus could have saved Lazarus, He should have.

Pain often tempts us to view Jesus this way. We have pain and prayer should solve it.


But it wasn’t Jesus’ lack of concern that caused His delay. This story reveals that the exact opposite is true. He waited because of His love for the sisters and for Lazarus (see John 11:5-6).

What God Wants for Us

As hard as we try, wrapping our minds around that seeming contradiction is still a struggle. After all, it’s hard to feel God’s love when we’ve cried out to Him, perhaps for years, and He seems to ignore us. Our pain blurs what Jesus sees clearly.

That’s what happened with Mary and Martha. Jesus saw what they couldn’t through the jumble of their pain and prayer.

  • He knew what Lazarus’s death would produce—an opportunity for nonbelievers to witness a miracle.
  • Jesus knew that Mary and Martha would grow to understand that God loved them on a level that went deeper than simply removing their pain and answering their shortsighted request.

Those lessons apply to you as well.

3 Lessons on Reconciling Pain and Prayer with God’s Love

  1. Because Jesus waits to answer your prayer, you know He wants to give you more than relief. (Tweet that.)
  2. Because Jesus wept, you can know He feels your pain, strengthening you with His presence along the path He in His sovereign will sees as best for you.
  3. He loves you enough to delay the answer and even to let you hurt—so that you will gain what you could not otherwise.

Jesus walks with you—and weeps—along the painful road that leads to death . . . but also to resurrection.

Question: How do you deal with God’s delay with regard to pain and prayer?

About ptl2010

Jesus Christ is coming soon

2 Responses to Reconciling Pain and Prayer with God’s Love

  1. Q. How do you deal with God’s delay with regard to pain and prayer?
    A. Initially: with impatience: like Mary & Martha and others.
    Then: with hindsight.

    When I look back on the 54 years since becoming His blood-bought, adopted child, and all the times of troubles in those years, I can easily see that He has undertaken for me in His way, and used the times to ‘grow’ me spiritually. I know that He WILL undertake for me and I KNOW His way is best, so I trust Him and leave it in His hands (well, that is the plan, but I must admit that I sometimes try to hang on to it myself – but when I do, He gently reminds me to let go)

    What an amazing God!

    • ptl2010 says:

      Troubles for us are when things happen against our wish (plans) and often when our plans are not in sync or time with our Lord’s. It will last for as long as we remain adamant and stick with our plan, when we moan and groan and complain. It will be lifted when we see his light.

      16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4.

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