There have been things we have prayed for and they happened just the way we asked. Sometimes the answer or provision was so quickly executed that it shocked us. Other times our prayers seemed to go on deaf ears. Maybe all of us have invested time and resources based on an certain answer not getting the result we expected or thought we needed.
Prayer has left me elated and disappointed. It has strengthened my faith and also weakened it.
To believe in a good God but still face disappointment can turn a person introspective. It is not God's fault... maybe something is wrong with us?
"And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, 'What are you arguing about with them?' And someone from the crowd answered him, 'Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.' " Mark 9:14-18 ESV
The scribes and the disciples are arguing. Why? Mainly it seems because Jesus was away on the mountain and this man had brought his son so that Jesus would heal him and the disciples prayed but it was unsuccessful.
"And he answered them, 'O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.'
And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
And Jesus asked his father, 'How long has this been happening to him?'
And he said, 'From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.'
And Jesus said to him, ' 'If you can!' All things are possible for one who believes.'
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief!'
And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, 'You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.'
And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, 'He is dead.' But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose." Mark 9:19-27 ESV
No one at this scene seems to understand why things went this way. The disciple had been healing people. Jesus seemed to impart His authority to them at one point and they lived that way until now.
"And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, 'Why could we not cast it out?' And he said to them, 'This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.' " Mark 9:28-29 ESV
A lot can be said about prayer and fasting but let's focus on the question we started with, 'What do I do with unanswered prayer?' and 'How do I cope with the results of unanswered prayer?'
Both the father of the child and the disciples did the only satisfactory thing we can do. They went directly to Jesus and talked to him about it.
He graciously answered the father and told him how profitable faith was... He looked him in the eyes and basically said, 'Trust me. Trusting me is always a good thing to do.'
To his disciples He said, 'I will give you wisdom. You have authority but as you walk with me you will get wisdom. Grace will teach you.'
Instead of searching out our 'double mindedness' and getting introspective we learn over time to look to Christ and listen to him. We learn to trust his plan and that active faith is profitable beyond the results we desire. To a believing person 'all things are possible.' That is an amazing truth.
Jesus is the one who refocuses the lens of our faith to a place of clarity. Grace is what we need. Grace and lots of mercy. Scripture will change our thinking over time and show us how to think. There will be a day when our heart will overflow with gratefulness. We will thank God even for the things that disappointed us when clarity comes.
We see through a glass darkly now. Let's take the light we have been given and use it to 'Only Believe'. In the end we will not be ashamed that we did.