How come God didn’t listen to my prayers and spare a loved one?

Life has a way of hurling a stone and shattering the window into our soul. The wrenching pain of an exposed heart can cripple us emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. The tragedies of life have caused many to turn away from God. Many people of asked, “How can I loving God allow this to happen? Where can a person find peace and solace in the depths of suffering? Where can we turn for answers when God seems far away on some distant planet? We need someone who understands our pain — to share our grief, embrace our hearts — to put a hand on our shoulder and say, “I am always with you.

I cannot answer why an Almighty God would take a loved one in the prime of their lives. I don’t know why God chose to not answer fervent prayers to save them. If it was not for sin in this world, painful tragedies would never occur. As a result of sin and its consequences, God weeps too.

Jesus Christ is not an adversary during times of suffering, He is our cure. Jesus Christ suffers with us in our suffering. His unconditional love is the only source for healing and peace. Through his participation in our pain, he redeems it. By his ultimate suffering on the cross, he heals our own suffering. He is not off on some distant planet, but is with us each step of the way. This truth and promise reveals to us the magnitude of God’s love for us. A loving Father sent his only Son to a dirty, sinful world. Jesus experienced the hellish depth of all that is nightmarish in human existence on behalf of us. He loved the unlovable. He befriended the friendless. Finally, he suffered for a world that is at once so beautiful and so ugly. 

Questions are going to remain while we deal with the pain and suffering of life. Jesus’ answer for us is to trust in him. Christ wins our love and trust through the healing compassion of his Word and the warm understanding of his silent embrace. He provides an understanding in the heart which the mind can never fully grasp. This trust rests on the belief that God works good out of all situations, whether good or bad, for the purpose of bringing us closer to him.  He wins our love in a way reasons could never do. And finally, we rest in the comfort that despite our existence in a sinful world, we place our hope in an eternal existence with God where all pain and suffering is removed. That’s where we look to to help us stand firm until the end.


** This question and answer was inspired from the book, “Letters from a Skeptic” by Dr. Gregory A Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, 1994. 

4 Comments on “How come God didn’t listen to my prayers and spare a loved one?

  1. LOL The standard selfish complaint – why did God take my loved on away!?! Everyone always seems to see it from that perspective. Grief is definitely the most selfish and self centered emotion that Man is cursed with.

    Based on everything I learned of Christianity, God didn’t take something from you deliberately. He brought someone back to him – your loved one.

    What complaint do you have? Are you better for your loved one than God is? Is your home a finer place than Heaven?

  2. Jonolan:

    It is true that heaven is a far better place than anything that earth has to offer. And yes, it would be selfish of me to want anything but the best for someone whom I love.

    At the same time, God created us with emotions, feelings and the capability of love. There is great joy associated with love and there can also be great pain. To deny those feelings is to deny our humanity – the way God created us to be.

    So, we confront grief– especially when a loved one is taken away from us. And especially if that loved one is a young child, or someone in the prime of their life. We allow ourselves to grieve for this is the process of saying goodbye. However, for a Christian, one who has placed their entire trust and faith in Jesus Christ, we are assured that someday we will be reunited in heaven. That is the comfort we receive.

    Yes, Jonolan, it is selfish of me to not want a loved one to die and go to heaven. Yet, I am grateful that God has created me with the ability to love and when I do look beyond my own selfishness, I am comforted. The question of “Why didn’t my God listen to my prayers and spare a loved one?”, eventually becomes “Thank you, God, for allowing me to love and giving me this loved one for this short time here on earth.”

    Thank you for your reply.

  3. Well said! Rereading my comment showed me that it was overly harsh. I’m sorry.

    As you might guess I have some strong feelings on grief that may not match “normal’ peoples. Chalk it up to burying all my kin – each after long painful illnesses. I got repeated chances to look at my grief and realize that it centered on me and not my loved one. that’s an ugly thing to find out while looking in a mirror.

  4. I’m sorry about your losses. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to bury family and watch them experience painful illnesses. To be honest, I dont’ know what it is like to experience the loss of a child or a parent. Since I have not gone through a time of intense grieving, I feel a little inadequate. When someone says “God has a plan” during a time of great difficulty, it can seem quite hollow.

    Thank you for your insights on grief. You are right in saying that how we respond to life all centers on our opinion of self. Selfishness or self-centeredness typically causes us to respond poorly. It is when we pry our thoughts away from self is when we can see a bigger picture — and God can come into a clearer focus. I can see how that can be applied to losing a loved one.

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