The headline crawled across my phone screen, distracting me from the work I was trying to finish, and I gasped.
No! Oh, God, this can’t be true.
The body of Mollie Tibbetts had been discovered in an Iowa cornfield. For weeks, concerned people across the country followed the story of the missing 20-year-old University of Iowa student, waiting for good news to erupt that she had been found alive and well. And now my heart and mind were wrecked.
Why did the prayers for her safe return go unanswered for five long weeks, ending in a “No”? Did God even hear the pleas of His people to bring her home? Was He listening at all?
What do you do with a “No” as drastic as this? How do you respond when you receive the most devastating news you have ever heard? When you learn a family member has suddenly died … you arrive home and find empty closets and no “Good-bye” … when the doctor calls with the news that the disease is no longer in remission but is now growing more aggressively than ever?
Evil laughs in the face of God, defies Him, and carries out its plan.
As Christians, we understand evil exists. We need look no further than the garden of Eden to understand that man decided to go his way against God’s law, birthing sin into what was once a perfect creation. But when that sin so profoundly affects one we love, understanding goes out the window. These tragedies are supposed to occur in the lives of others … right? Bad things are supposed to happen to bad people, not good people … right? How could God get it so wrong? Why, God, did you say “No” to the pleas for mercy? And why did you say “No” to sending Mollie home safely?
Will getting an answer to your “Why did you say ‘No,’ God?” change anything? If you heard a definitive reason, would you reply with, “Oh, yes, of course; I understand now”?
Gut-wrenching anguish is not foreign to our God and Savior. Jesus knew, as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, that His time was near. He knew He had been betrayed and was being hunted down and that suffering was at hand. And He pled with God, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me …” (Luke 22:42). His agony drove Him to the point of sweating drops of blood. Whether death comes after months or years of slow, labored pain or is condensed into a few moments of terror and agony, it will come.
God calls us, as believers, to a higher response. In horrific grief, the flesh desires to lash out and strike back. Yet there is a higher way to combat evil. It is not to engage in the same weapons the enemy uses but, on the contrary, to re-engage with the God Almighty and praise Him for the victory found in His Son!
Could the “No” our earthly ear hears actually be a “Yes” from God?
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
When in our flesh we hear a “No” to our prayers, heaven cries out “Yes!”
Yes, I heard your prayers, child. Hear My “YES” to your cries! In your human flesh, you see deliverance, healing, and well-being only as returning to an earthly wholeness. But My ways are higher than yours. I am giving complete wellness by bringing your loved one to Me! She is safe here with Me, where no evil can again harm her!
We are more than conquerors when, in the face of Satan’s evil works, we command him with our God-given authority to bow at the name of Jesus! We usher in the presence of God when, despite horrific circumstances, we praise God and remind the enemy that the depths of his evil are no match to the goodness of God. Satan may strike with deadly force, ripping a “Mollie” from the arms of her earthly family, but it will be to his demise when an all-powerful and sovereign God works through His people to bring into the communion of saints hundreds and thousands more believers!!
May I suggest – no, urge and plead with you — when tragedy strikes, run into the Savior’s arms! Trust Him even when you don’t understand, and lean into Him when the earth beneath your feet crumbles away. Find your solace, your peace, in an Almighty God who will make all things right.
He is our Victory and the Hope of the world!
21 DAYS OF PRAYER IS FOR YOU! If you sense God has more for your life, 21 Days of Prayer is a great place to start believing Him for all that He has for you. As you practice seeking Him first, He will move on your behalf like never before. You will start to see the power of prayer impact your relationships, work, family, and every area of your life. Whether you join us in person or online, we would love for you to be part of 21 Days of Prayer.
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Pam Freitag Weyant traded the harsh Midwestern winters for the sunny South. Her best friends are her steno machine (she works as a freelance court reporter), her aged but adorable cocker spaniel Jake, and books. She is grateful for time spent traveling, writing creative nonfiction, and working out. Her goal is to share her story with others so they may also find freedom in a redemptive Savior. Read more of Pam’s Breath on Paper bio here.