Have you ever had a time in your life when you were in terrible pain or misery and you cried out to God, only to feel like you didn’t hear back from Him? I have had that experience many times. I have had times in my life when I was literally on my knees, tears streaming down my face, begging God to rescue me – to rescue me from the pain other people had inflicted on me, to rescue me from the pain I had caused to others and myself, to rescue my children from their own mistakes or from the harm inflicted on them by others – but then felt as if God was simply silent. Now there have been a million times in my life when God HAS shown up out of nowhere and solved problems that seemed unsolvable to me, or provided and protected me in ways that were astonishing. But what about the times when He doesn’t seem to show up? Why??
For over a decade I was in an abusive relationship. I was so depressed, and in so much pain, that at times I wondered if death was my only escape. I felt trapped, alone, and like no one could understand my misery. For years, I cried out to God daily, asking Him to make my abuser more kind, to send someone to rescue me, to help me be perfect so that somehow the abuse would stop. But my abuser never got nicer, no one came to rescue me, and I was never able to be perfect enough to stop the abuse. The cycle went on and on. I suffered in silence most of the time, but at other times, in a desperate attempt to be “rescued,” I would reach out to others for help. By some I was offered kind words of encouragement, some urged me to leave the abuse, some questioned me and wondered if I was just exaggerating and being overly dramatic about the things that I was enduring, and some even told me that good Christian girls must never break their commitments, even if it requires enduring abuse.
I went person to person for "support" (subconsciously searching to be rescued), but no one came and scooped me up to rescue me…Thank God! Yes, I just said, “Thank God that no one came to rescue me.” Let me explain. Since no one came to rescue me, guess who had to rescue me? Yep, it was me! I had to rescue me. And guess how God taught me how to rescue myself? By making sure that no one else rescued me. What I know now is that God did answer every single one of my desperate prayers. He didn’t answer me by specifically giving me what I was asking, because He knew better than me what I needed. He knew that if He had rescued me – pulled me immediately out of my situation – I would have likely ended up right back in a similar situation. So instead, God allowed my pain to get so bad that I was finally pushed to do the hard work of rescuing myself. He provided all of the resources – friends to talk to, support groups to get support from, counselors to guide me, books to find insight from, His Word to provide wisdom – but He forced me to do the work so that I would be changed, not just rescued and left the same.
One of the very first issues I had to resolve was the question of why I so desperately wanted to be rescued. Why did I so desperately want other people to help me make decisions that were actually pretty obvious to make? Was it because I never had a dad who rescued me when I was little? Was it because I was so afraid of judgement from others that I wanted other people to give me approval? Was it because I was just too tired, both mentally and physically, to stand up to people who might not believe me or agree with my decisions? Was it something else altogether? Probably a little of all of those things, but the bottom line is, God knew that if He had simply rescued me from my pain, I’d never be in a spot where I had to even ask myself these questions and work on me.
Today I thank God for not rescuing me all those nights when I begged Him to rescue me. I thank God that instead, He changed me. He forced me to grow up, to face my shortcomings, to face my fears, to grow in strength and endurance, and to stand up and rescue myself from the misery I had chosen. He rescued me in a way that I didn’t know was possible.
If you feel that God is not hearing your desperate cry to be rescued, my friend, please hold onto hope. Perhaps He has a plan that is far beyond, and far better, than the short-term rescue plan that you’ve envisioned. Perhaps He has a plan to change you in ways that you didn’t know were possible, to give you strength you didn’t know you had, and to provide you with a new and better life than you ever could have imagined. It may feel hopeless at times now, but I can assure you that God can, and will, make good out of even the most hopeless feeling situations.
(Original publication date 12/27/2016)