We recently moved from Pennsylvania to Texas and entered what we will refer to in years to come as our “fiery furnace season.” Not only did we have to adjust to the Texas heat, but so many of our plans fell through, causing us all to suffer, especially our younger son who has autism. He moved away from a team of amazing therapists and teachers, and into a school that didn’t meet his needs in the way that we were used to. It was hard to see him suffer like that.
We prayed and prayed. “God, open up an opportunity for the therapy he needs. Help calm his anxiety at school and at home. Bring people into our lives who can guide us through this new system. Help him sleep through the night so we can all sleep through the night. Allow him to learn new words so he can communicate his needs. Please God, help him.”
We prayed for him and hoped God would answer our prayers, but would He answer the way we wanted Him to?
In the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were put into the furnace as a punishment for not bowing down to the king. They hoped God would save them, but they didn’t know for sure that He would:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” Daniel 3:16-18 (emphasis mine).
In times of suffering, how do we find hope again?
How do we learn to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “God will answer our prayers, but if not, I will still worship Him?”
We remind ourselves it’s not the results of our prayers that we have hope in, but the One who hears our prayers.
We trust in God who has our best interests in mind. He has a perfect plan for our lives and our boys’ lives, and in that we can trust. It’s higher and better than our plans, even the seasons of suffering.
Hold on to that hope when you feel your prayers aren’t being answered. He loves you and is working all things out for your good and your family’s good! As Tim Keller says, “If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what he gives.” Thank God for the hope He provides even when He seems quiet.
Sandra Peoples (M. Div, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is one of the leading voices in the special-needs community. She is the author of three books, including her most recent release, Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family. Sandra is currently a PhD student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the area of family ministry with an emphasis on inclusion for special needs families. Sandra serves the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention as their special-needs ministry consultant, helping churches around the state start and strengthen their disability ministries. She is also an adjunct professor in Liberty University’s School of Divinity, teaching classes in the area of disability ministry. Learn more at www.sandrapeoples.com.