Where is God when I need Him?
This question is often asked by people who prayed for something they didn’t get or who didn’t feel they received the comfort or help they expected during difficult times. There are several aspects of the gospel that must be understood in order to know why this happened.
It’s important to remember we can’t control God, particularly not without incurring great suffering. Early in Mormon Church history, Joseph Smith‘s scribe wanted to take the translation of the Book of Mormon-116 pages so far-to show his family. Joseph prayed and was told not to allow it. However, the scribe continued to plead, and Joseph gave in and continued to ask God to change His mind. Eventually, God told them to go ahead, since they were clearly determined to do it, anyway. The scribe took the manuscript home and it was stolen. Both men realized they needed to repent for their decisions. From this, Joseph Smith learned not to nag God. God is perfect and His first answer should be enough. God knew what would happen; they did not.
God can see further into the future than we can. While we make decisions on what is currently happening, and what we think will happen, God is looking at the larger picture. There might be consequences far into the future we can’t see. When we pray, we’re always to ask that God’s will be done. He wants us to tell Him what we want, but we must always do it with the understanding that we might not get what we think we want. God always answers prayers, but there are three possible answers: Yes, no, and not yet. God will answer our prayer in the way that is best for everyone concerned, and sometimes others will be affected by what we do, so their needs must be considered as well.
It can be upsetting when we are certain we know what’s best and God doesn’t give us what we want. It may be the trials we face will give us something we need in the future. All deaths can’t be prevented, because people do have to die, and only God knows the reason for the timing. All sadness or pain can’t be avoided if we want to grow and progress, or even to develop faith.
To make it easier to accept God’s will, we must develop a close and personal relationship with Him. We need to spend time in prayer and study long before the crisis begins, so we can recognize His “voice.” This isn’t to say He speaks to us in a voice we can hear. It’s a figurative statement. We need to know when what we’re feeling and experiencing comes from God, and we do that by spending time with God in prayer, scripture study, and contemplation.
Building a relationship of trust is also important. Trust takes time to develop and we can’t wait for a crisis to gain our faith. Over time, as we learn to recognize God’s hand in our lives, and see how well His decisions work out, we begin to trust Him, and know that what he decides to do is always the best decision. Then, when the most serious problems arise, we are able to turn them over to Him and feel safe and cared for.
When we think God is missing from the critical moments in our lives, it’s always really a matter of not recognizing Him. He is always there, but unless we know Him well, we won’t be able to see Him there, and won’t be able to feel the comfort available to us through the Holy Ghost. That comfort comes only when we completely trust God and take the time to sit quietly and feel His presence, even when He isn’t doing our will. The test of faith isn’t in making God do our will, but in our willingness to do and to accept His.
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