When God Says “No” … Again Part I: The Nightmare

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not …” – Daniel 3:17,18a

Without a doubt, one of the times we need “divine perspective” the most is when the answer to a fervent prayer is “No.” It is especially troubling when that answer – or non-answer – comes with no explanation. We look around us and see others getting instant answers to requests for a parking spot or something equally trivial, while our desperate pleadings seem to drift off into space, unheard.

And yet, we can be like the “bug in the rug” I wrote about in another post, daily crawling through light and dark, pleasant, unpleasant, and downright miserable. Then one day, like the bug sprouting wings and looking down on the whole rug with its colorful patterns, we can look back at all we’ve been through and see that God, the Master Designer, has been in control all along, even on those days – or especially on those days – when He seemed most distant. There is a “Big Picture” – God’s plan – and whether we see it now or not, it’s beautiful.

This past summer I was privileged to have a ringside seat for one such journey, one that began as an absolute nightmare and, in the end, showed God had a plan that could only be appreciated in hindsight.

Last fall I was visiting my old Michigan stomping ground and staying with my friend Kelly for a few days. One of those days a young couple came by, and Kelly introduced me to them. “T” and his wife “C” were the kind of people I greatly admire but would never attempt to emulate. They had six children – four biological and two adopted. Their youngest child was an infant, and the rest were home schooled. (I got tired just thinking about what they did.) As I recall, for most of the visit Kelly, T and I talked, while C was in the yard keeping tabs on the lively kids and making sure they didn’t fall in the lake.

Not long after that day, I got a text from Kelly, asking me to pray for this family. She didn’t go into why, just that they were in a major crisis and really needed the Lord’s help.

I was later to learn that one of the adopted children had fallen down a flight of stairs. She had suffered a brain bleed and needed surgery. When she was questioned about what had happened, she had said, truthfully, that she had fallen when her mother was in the breezeway. Later, after CPS had taken her elsewhere to live, she had been questioned again and again told what had happened. But after repeated questioning she had changed her story to say C had pushed her, and so had begun for T and C a parent’s worst nightmare.

There were months of being investigated, waiting to see whether there would be charges, and the constant uncertainty of whether all of their children would be taken away from them. I prayed and enlisted the help of my church and other “prayer warriors” I knew, and we stormed heaven’s gates and waited for updates. Through Kelly I heard about the agonizing wait for court hearings, only to have them postponed time and again. When finally formal charges were filed in the spring, C learned that if she were to be found guilty by a jury, she could face up to twenty-five years in prison. For this reason, her lawyer advised her to avoid a trial by not pleading “not guilty.” If she were to plead “no contest,” she would be sentenced by a judge with a penalty anywhere from five years down to probation. As much as C knew she was not guilty, the thought of spending half of the rest of her life in prison, never seeing her children grow up, in the end she and T decided to take the lawyer’s advice; she pled “no contest.”

Next came the sentencing, and again it was an agonizing time of “wait and see.” The two adopted children had been taken and placed in another family, but the foster father soon concluded that the one child was “a habitual liar,” and was afraid to keep her, lest he end up in the same predicament as C. (As of this writing, the children are somewhere “in the system” and could no doubt use our prayers, too.)

Meanwhile, we were all praying for favor from the judge, that she would discern the truth, and that if there still had to be a sentence, it would be the minimum, so the four children who were left wouldn’t be deprived of their mother for any length of time.

When the sentencing finally came, C was given four months in jail. She and T were crushed. Although I knew it could have been much worse, that was easy for me to say, sitting in my comfortable house with loved ones within reach. One of my praying friends responded by commenting, “Paul did some of his best ministry in prison.” But I wasn’t sure how much encouragement that would be to C and T at this point.


Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to earth and suffering for us. You understand when our own hearts cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We know, of course, that You haven’t forsaken us. Help us to hang onto Your promises when times are dark and we see no light at the end of the tunnel. And when we have come out on the other side and can see what You had planned all along, help us to tell our stories and encourage those who are still seeking You in the darkness, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

43 thoughts on “When God Says “No” … Again Part I: The Nightmare

  1. There will be more to come like this in the spiritual warfare into which American Christ-followers are about to enter. We’ve had it very soft for most of 200 years, being the dominant influence in social, cultural and political affairs, but with Andrew Brunson, I believe that is about to change. Like you, it is easy for me to say, but the truth is that we must grow up very quickly into men and women who are not afraid of prison or death for the sake of Jesus’ Name!
    ❀️&πŸ™, c.a.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The “system” is so quick to believe the kids. We have a friend who went through a somewhat similar situation with her own lying daughter. She had to pay bail, went through some court hearings, and ultimately “lost” her daughter to the “system” for a couple years. At least there was no jail time. Now she and her daughter are back in touch because her daughter is in a subpar living situation. She doesn’t think it’s important for her daughter to fess up to the terrible things she had said about her mom, but we do. Prayerfully, that will happen some day. (They had both previously been baptized.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Keith, on the other hand, imagine being an abused child and having the adults not believe you. There really is no right answer here. I did find it interesting that this child told the truth the first few times, and I can’t help wondering why they continued to question her. 🀨

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m very curious why she changed her story; I don’t know if somehow it was what she thought they wanted to hear, or what. I suppose lie detectors would not be allowed with kids. But anyway, yes, it would be at least equally awful if an abused child were not believed. It just seems that CPS these days is quick to intervene.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It takes a very brave person to get involved with the foster system (in its entirety) been there, done that and it is intense for sure, not for the faint of heart, you often feel stretched thin through the thick of it.
    On the other hand it takes a humble but persistent soul to be a follower of Christ. Foster families are desperately needed, just like Christ is as well.
    Looking forward to part 2!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Amazing story and great perspective on prayers and God’s responses. We trust his heart even when we don’t understand and stay connected to his love and care. We go through the fire with no burns and won’t be overwhelmed by floods. Bless you πŸ™πŸΎ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a horrible thing for every member of this family to have to go through.
    Anxiously awaiting the rest of the story.


    1. Thanks, Cindy. Yes, pray for kids in “the system.” No telling where they are .
      Stay tuned for what the Lord did with C.
      P.S. This all happened last summer. I waited a while, wanting to run it all by C before posting and make sure I got all the facts straight.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This surfaced a memory and emotions from several years back. I have a friend whose spouse was abusing their infant child. She called for help and was told to take the child and leave. She was informed that if she were to come back with the child she would be considered an accomplice to anything that would happen in the future. As advised, she took the child to a safe place. Months later, after no contact, the abusive parent filed for custody of the child. She went through a hellish nightmare with CPS and the courts. There was photo evidence of the abuses. The abuser did NOT deny anything he was accused of and admitted guilt. The judge then awarded the ABUSER full custody of the child.

    This nearly did me in. I sobbed before the LORD, afraid for this child with the horrid things that had already happened. Then God provided a perspective that gave me a reason to continue trusting His sovereignty. I shared it with the mother, and peace followed for each of us, though I don’t agree with the judge’s decision.

    The moment of revelation came as I read my Bible. Hebrews 11:23-29 summarizes Moses’ life. His parents hid him for three months due to the edict to kill all Israelite males at birth. We know the rest of the story Pharaoh’s daughter finds baby Moses in the basket, he is rescued from death by crocodiles, and Moses is raised in the house of Pharaoh (the one responsible for the ethnic killing edict). That story reminded me God’s ways are not man’s ways. He has a bigger, broader plan in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sad situation. Adults lie. Children lie. Sometimes very difficult to know who is lying and who is telling the truth. Innocent people Sometimes end up in prison while the guilty go free. It is an imperfect system run by imperfect people. Sad all the way around.

    Liked by 1 person

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