The Pain of Answered Prayer: Post-it Note #101

The ladies in my prayer group met last night and had a sweet time of prayer.  Before praying we looked at Acts 12.  This is the story of Peter being put in prison and the church praying for his release.  With the help of an angel, the Lord miraculously breaks him out of prison and the chains just fall away and the doors open.  Upon his release he goes to where the praying church is gathered.  The girl who answers the door, Rhoda, is so shocked she doesn’t even let him in.  Instead she runs inside to tell everyone…….and they don’t believe her!

We talked about how we could so relate.  We ask God but are amazed and in disbelief when He answers our calls.  Collectively we had probably heard a 100 sermons on this passage, but then my friend, pointed out verses 18-19.  We usually don’t notice these verses and they are disturbing.  Look and see for yourself:

18At dawn there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. 19Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death.

We had learned in verse 4 that there were 16 soldiers.  And my friend drew the picture for us……..that’s 16 families.  16 bread winners.  Executed.

It was sobering to think that sometimes answered prayer for us can have painful results for others.  Of course the bigger picture is that if Herod had acted differently in the first place, and not imprisoned Peter, this would be a different story.  But the reality is that people act badly, bad things happen and sometimes even the answers to our prayers can bring about intense answers.

In that moment, as we looked at the scriptures, and in the moments when we see God work in ways that we don’t understand there is a choice to be made.  Do I believe that God is big enough to see the whole picture?  Do I believe that God is wise enough to do what is best?  Do I believe that God is gracious enough to do what is necessary?  Do I believe that God knows more than I do and will I accept His plan?

How we answer these questions determines many things.  The answer is the difference between joy and despair.  Between worry and peace.  Between strength and weakness.  Between crushed hope and something to look forward today.

Friends, I don’t know what you are facing today, but may you find that God is big enough.  May you realize that God will do what is best even if it is beyond our understanding.  He will do what brings the most glory to His name.  And may you accept it with strength and surrender to the One who sees all.