When the Answer is No

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On Wednesday, May 30, I asked people to pray that I would get a promotion that I had interviewed for and really wanted. I felt good about my interview and I was pretty confident I would get the promotion. On Monday, May 4, I was informed that I was not selected. I was disappointed—really disappointed—especially since both my supervisor and I thought it was highly likely. What happened? Why didn’t I get the promotion? According to the chair of the hiring panel, my interview was very good, my priority letter was great and showed a lot of thought, and my reference check was excellent. While this information was nice to hear—my question remains, why didn’t I get the promotion? He couldn’t really tell me.

Did my prayers and the prayers of others not have an impact? Maybe the one who was promoted prayed harder, or longer, or had more people praying? Maybe God has a better plan—you know He closes one door but opens another—right? There must be some deep, spiritual, eternal, life-altering reason…shouldn’t there be? Maybe I didn’t get the promotion so I could have something to write about on the front of the bulletin? I know that may not be some deep or spiritual reason—but there has to be a reason. After all, isn’t God in control? Isn’t He all powerful, all knowing, present everywhere and full of love? So what is the reason? And how does that reason impact my faith, my trust and my hope in God or in prayer?

I can easily dismiss the more prayer or longer prayer or harder prayer idea because God is not some magic genie and if we pray right, and pray hard enough, and pray long enough, and have enough people pray then we get what we want. Scripture will tell us to pray for the right things (James 4:3), to persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1ff, 1 Thessalonians 5:17), and that the prayers of a righteous man (James 5:16) or a faithful man (Matthew 17:20) matter and can even move a mountain. But that doesn’t mean we get whatever we ask for. And that closed door / opened door idea isn’t really scriptural—or helpful when the door you want open is closed. And to be honest, I am not sure that every yes, every no, and every period silence is something deep and spiritual. So what happened? The real answer is: I don’t know why I didn’t get the promotion but I do know that taking one single situation is not the way to evaluate the power, attention or love of God.

It is these types of questions and this type of discussion I hope our new series, “Asking The Hard Questions About God”, which begins today, will answer.

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