© 2023 United Church of God Australia
All correspondence and questions should be sent to . Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to .
God does not always answer our prayers to our immediate satisfaction and instantly deliver us from our trials. But He will always do what is best for us as an example from the life of the Apostle Paul illustrates.
The Apostle Paul pleaded with God to intervene for him in a chronic trial. "There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me" (2 Corinthians 12:7-8).
There are indications from what Paul wrote to the Galatians that this trial may have been a problem with his eyesight: "...if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me" (Galatians 4:5). At the end of this letter he also writes, "See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!" (Galatians 6:11).
Several years later Paul wrote he had pleaded with God on three occasions to have his "thorn in the flesh" removed, no doubt with fasting and heartfelt prayer (2 Corinthians 11:27), so he could continue to spread the Gospel effectively and care for the congregations. But God told Paul: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Whether God spoke these words directly to Paul or Paul gradually came to this understanding of God's will isn't clear. What is clear is that Paul eventually saw that his weakness drew him closer to God, and he developed a deeper spiritual understanding that strengthened his faith and commitment: "I am therefore happy to boast of my weaknesses, because then the power of Christ will rest upon me. So I am content with a life of weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, and distress, all for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (1 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Paul's experience stands as an important spiritual lesson for us. Sometimes God's answer for us is "no" or "not yet." Our physical bodies were never intended to last forever (Psalms 90:10), and God is far more concerned we develop righteous character and a trusting relationship with Him. He wants to resurrect us to eternal life in an immortal spirit body (1 Corinthians 15:40-54), and He promises He will never allow us to fall into trials greater than we can endure or allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Jesus, knowing He faced a cruel death within a few hours prayed, "...if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39), but also acknowledged a greater purpose for His physical life, concluding, "Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). Jesus Christ, the perfect example of faith, knew the importance of following the Father's will above one's own.
Because God works with us to build faith and character He doesn't always answer our prayers in the way we desire and Hebrews 11, known as the “faith chapter,” gives examples of this. God knows what is best for us in the long run, even if it may conflict with our short-term wants and desires.
Bible Study Guide: You Can Have Living Faith