Philippians 4:1 "Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
2 I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Exactly 10 years ago God healed my body of cancer and I have been cancer free ever since. Over 4 years ago when we asked Him to do the same for my mom nothing happened and she died. Did God change? Did He like me more than my mom? Was her cancer too hard to heal?
Soon we won't be on this sin sick planet anymore. When we get Home and we are with God and our families again in His perfect heaven do you think we'll care that we had different journeys to get there?
Before your emotions get too involved thinking about that let me ask you to think about something else.
Are all prayers answered? In verses 6 and 7 above it says to pray and let all our requests be made known to God. Will He answer them all?
When Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane on that fateful night to be removed from the situation He was in His request appears to have been met with defeaning silence. He asked again. Nothing. He asked a third time. Nothing.
Jesus made His request known to God and God responds at the darkest moment of Jesus' life with a 'heroic' NOTHING?!
Later on the cross when it gets as dark as midnight in the middle of the day Jesus cries out "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?!" The literal translation is "left me in the lurch, abandoned me". Here is the Son of God who created our world, our galaxy, etc... who after becoming one of us is abandoned by His Father at the darkest moment of His life here. God showed up at His baptism on a bright sunny day. God sent angels to help him after the ordeal with Satan in the wilderness. When a storm threatened their lives on the sea of Galilee and Jesus prayed God immediately calmed the raging sea and halted the wind and rain. The list of answered prayers is long. Why then at His time of greatest need does God do absolutely nothing?
One word - necessity. It was necessary. Jesus alludes to it in His prayer. "Father if it is possible let this cup pass from Me". It was not possible. There are things God can't do because the negative consequences would outweigh the positive benefit.
Do you think Jesus is upset now that His Father "left Him in the lurch"? How much more upset would Jesus be now if God had whisked Him away from Gethsemane and forever aborted the salvation of humanity?
Now let's think about something else. Let's imagine the world has ended with the glorious return of Jesus and we've been brought to heaven. On the journey home I am searching for my sister but can not find her. I ask an angel where she is and he with a sad face informs me she is not here. I ask why. He says she could have been but isn't. Confused I press for more information. He says "When your mom was dying God was using that situation to speak to your sister. Her illness and death from it were necessary to reach her heart. But you prayed that would not die so God removed the illness and it cost your sister her eternal life."
Now we understand this is entirely hypothetical but if it were true how would I feel about God in that moment? How would my mother feel?
Now imagine an opposite scenario. Jesus returns and my entire family is in heaven. We ask Jesus about my mom's death and why He never healed her like He healed me. He responds by explaining that in each case He did what was necessary and my healing as well as her death affected lives in such a way that more people including my sisters gave their lives to Him.
Here is my point and Paul’s point. To a church wallowing in doubt and stress and division because of "unanswered" prayer Paul says: "Talk to God about everything with a thankful heart and enjoy the peace of knowing He won't do what you ask Him to do every time. Rather He will do what is best. Every. Time."
Bad parents give their children everything they cry for. Good parents do what is best for their children even if it makes them cry.
We have the best Father. Weeping will occur but joy is coming in the morning!