But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
Have you ever asked God for something, and you don't feel like he answered? I know I certainly have and suspect most of us have. In the country song Unanswered Prayers, recording artist Garth Brooks relates an experience when life didn't turn out as he thought he wanted, but the result was better. Here's the chorus.
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
In today's verse, the Apostle Paul relates his own experience. Three separate times he asked God for healing without receiving the result he wanted. Paul could easily have chosen to pout and feel God didn't really care about him, but instead, he looked on that unanswered prayer as a blessing. He turned that weakness into a strength, using it to glorify God. He could do that because, in his faith, he recognized that his prayer wasn't unanswered; it just wasn't the answer he wanted.
How God answers prayers is a mystery. We can't understand his decision-making process—the when, how, and why is beyond us. We can't construct a decision making tree and code it for artificial intelligence. God is who he is omniscient. As children of our loving Father, we can fully trust that he answers with our best interest in mind even when we can't comprehend it.
Father God, we give you thanks for answering our prayers. We confess we are sometimes disappointed when you don't answer the way we would like, in the time we would like. At times we feel that in your no, you've left our prayers unanswered. Father, forgive us and help us when we doubt to accept your answers with the full knowledge that you love us and want what is best for us. We ask you to turn our weaknesses into strengths for your glory. In Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.