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Dear God, Where Are You?

March 12, 2013

“Mom, I didn’t make it. Please pray for me. I just feel confused about God.”

My heart sank. I felt my daughter’s deep hurt. I felt it as clearly as if it were my own.

I know what it feels like to want something so badly and have that dream shut down. That door closed. That opportunity slip away.

She’d been talking about going for this special achievement at summer camp for 3 years. Every time we talked about camp, she talked about going for this achievement. But she wasn’t old enough to try until this year. Her 4th year at camp.

Finally, this was to be her year.

She met every challenge and could see the goal in sight…until the fire. She was supposed to light a camp fire with nothing but three matches, one small square of newspaper, and a few sticks of wood.

She struck the first match and held it up to the newspaper. It didn’t ignite. She struck the second match and held it up to the newspaper. It still didn’t ignite.

She stared at the third and final match. Knowing that a big part of the challenge was teaching the kids how to communicate with God and fully rely on Him, she’d been praying through every stage of the challenge. But now, she didn’t just pray-she cried out to God.

“Please help me, God. Please,” she mouthed as she struck the third match. She held the flame up to the paper once again and watched in complete disbelief. The matchstick burned but the paper did not.

As soon as the final match burned out, she lowered her head in defeat, and gave all her wood to the girls still in.

There were 9 girls going for this achievement. Six girls were crowned with the highest honor at camp for finishing the challenge. Three girls didn’t make it, including my daughter.

When I arrived at camp to pick her up a week later, she asked if we could go sit by ourselves and process this situation. The fact that she didn’t get the camp honor was not what was bothering her the most. What was bothering her the most was not experiencing God’s power like the other girls. They all had amazing stories of God answering their cries for help in amazing ways that carried them all the way through the challenge.

“Mom, I didn’t get that with God. Why?”

This was a tough question. One of those questions as a mom that you don’t want to mess up in answering.

I asked her to help me recall every step of her challenge so we could intentionally look for God’s hand. As she recalled every part, I listened intently for anything unusual and unexplainable.

And when she got to the fire, I found it. There was no reason her newspaper shouldn’t light. None at all. Everyone else’s paper lit. Hers should have. But it didn’t.

“Honey, that can only be explained by God intervening. He was there. He was listening. And we just have to trust that there was some reason you shouldn’t have continued that challenge. We may not know that reason, but we can certainly trust God was right there…protecting you…loving you…revealing His power to you.”

She put her head on my shoulder, “You really think so Mom?”

I whispered, “I know so.”

Yes, I know deep hurt. But I also know deep hope. So, I whispered it again, “Yes, sweetheart, I know so.”

Sometimes God’s power is shown as much in preventing things as it is in making them happen. We may never know why. But we can always know and trust the Who.

(“Dear God, Where Are You?” is a re-post from June 2012, but I just really felt like someone needed this encouragement today. I also have a post running on (in)Courage today called “I Want To Run Away.” I pray that this message speaks to you too! Click here to read that post.)

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  1. jess

    Thank you, Lysa! I have read this and loved it but i really needed it again today!

    • Sandra M

      Thank you Lysa. God knew that I needed this today. I’m passing this on to my friends. Have a blessed day.

  2. Nancy Murray

    Just what I needed to hear today. I know it, but it is always good to hear someone else say it. God is here. He is always here with us. Thank You and God Bless.

  3. Jeanne

    Oh how I needed to hear this at this exact moment. Thank you isn’t enough – I am more thankful than I know how to say!!

  4. Ann Kite

    Hey Lysa– since this is a repost, I’m wondering… Was your daughter ever able to see a “why” for God’s sovereign hand in this situation? Sometimes later we do see it and we’re amazed and/or humbled at His care for us. Just curious about “the rest of the story”! She’s so blessed to have a mom who would walk her through her disappoint in such a God-honoring way.
    I pray it’ll turn out to be one of her favorite testimonies later in life… when she’s walking with someone else through a disappointment.
    Blessings to you both.
    Ann Kite

  5. Lindsey

    I needed to hear it. I stood and wept over my sink today crying out to God, my heart has been so heavy and it just broke…not from anything huge or dramatic (for me) just “normal”. See I’m a military wife and mummy with two underschoolers (9months and 4.5) and a husband who Is back in training(learning French fluently in six months) and I have been doing a two man job trying to pick up slack for my normally very involved hubby while moving around, we are supposed to move again in two weeks and we still haven’t gotten orders yet… we have to find a house maybe get passports, maybe find a private school for my soon to be kindergartener, and to top it off my sister I having he their baby an her husband is leaving (military) soon after an I’m not there (one of our possible stations I near her family). All of this is happening, I have no controller whatsoever and I feel lol the whole world Is on my shoulders and, as I tried to wash a mountain of dishes with a teething little girl screaming at my legs, I just started to weep and pour my heart out to my Father… yep I needed to hear this today. Thank you.

  6. Esther

    This is what my husband and I needed today.
    We have been job hunting for what seems like forever. And we have successful interview after successful interview but still do not end up with the positions.
    We’ve prayed really hard that God would ONLY let us be offered the position He wants us to take.
    In our fear we would jump at any opportunity that showed itself, but we know that God’s desire for us is much more than we can comprehend.

  7. Tania

    Just returned from a unplanned therapy session and checked my email… I came across your blog email and read what you wrote in “Dear God, Where are you?” EXACTLY what I needed to read and be reminded of about God and His intervening in my life. Thank you.

  8. DeAnna

    I think you reposted this just for me and my husband. Last night we lost out 23yr old son. We want to know why. But more than that we know that God was there in those final moments. Thank you for your obedience to repost this message. What a comfort is was to us!

    • TN Lizzie

      Dear DeAnna,
      Your post took my breath away – I cannot imagine being where you are tonight. I am so sorry for your loss and your questions, and so grateful that you are a believer in Jesus and that you KNOW your son was not alone. I praise Him for the comfort and strength poured out for you already, and that He will not leave you alone, ever,

      For the next 23 weeks, I will stop at 3:11 and pray for you and your husband. ((((((hugs))))))

    • Lysa TerKeurst

      Oh precious DeAnna… My heart aches with you and for you. I’m praying for you right now and will ask my ministry team to do the same. Sending you much love… Lysa

      • DeAnna

        Thank you, Lizzie. We take comfort knowing our son is no longer in turmoil but we miss him so!

        Thank you, Laura for your prayers.

        Thank you again, Lysa for your obedience. I started sobbing when I read this and through tears reread it to my husband. We can’t fathom why our son chose such a permanent solution to a temporary circumstance. But God knew Aaron inside and out and protected him in a way we can’t see or understand. So we will trust the Who and wait for the why.

        • Irma Logan

          Dear DeAnna, I hope and trust you will still see this reply.

          I need to make sure of something first. It sounds as if your son, with the greatest respect and love, ended his own life. Your question of ‘We can’t fathom why our son chose such a permanent solution to a temporary circumstance’ I can only answer in the following way as I have been there and tried to end my life, twice. Whatever the circumstances are that brings you to such a moment in your life the pain and confusion (but especially the emotional pain) inside you is so great that you just want it to stop…stop at any cost because you cannot bear it anymore. Some of us survive by the grace of God and some go to sleep permanently with only God understanding why. I know this will not take away your pain but felt I needed to tell you about the pain – the never ending pain. May our Lord give you, in time, the peace and blessing you need to go on.

      • DeAnna

        Thank you, Lizzie. We take comfort knowing our son is no longer in turmoil but we miss him so!
        Thank you, Laura for your prayers.
        Thank you again, Lysa for your obedience. I started sobbing when I read this and through tears reread it to my husband. We can’t fathom why our son chose such a permanent solution to a temporary circumstance. But God knew Aaron inside and out and protected him in a way we can’t see or understand. So we will trust the Who and wait for the why.

      • DeAnna

        Thank you, Lizzie. We take comfort knowing our son is no longer in turmoil but we miss him so! Thank you, Laura for your prayers.
        Thank you again, Lysa for your obedience. I started sobbing when I read this and through tears reread it to my husband. We can’t fathom why our son chose such a permanent solution to a temporary circumstance. But God knew Aaron inside and out and protected him in a way we can’t see or understand. So we will trust the Who and wait for the why.

      • DeAnna

        Thank you again, Lysa for your obedience. I started sobbing when I read this and through tears reread it to my husband. We can’t fathom why our son chose such a permanent solution to a temporary circumstance. But God knew Aaron inside and out and protected him in a way we can’t see or understand. So we will trust the Who and wait for the why.

    • Laura Braho

      DeAnna I am praying for you as well. I cannot even fathom the pain & questions you are experiencing right now.

    • Elaine

      Deanna My Prayers Are With You All.

  9. Kathryn @ Expectant hearts

    It’s me. You reposted this for me. I get your posts via email. When I opened it this morning, I thought I recognized and I didn’t read it but I didnt’ delete it either. I just went through and re-read it. I’m sure I needed it in June of 2012 (I may have even commented, our youngest son died at 6 1/2 months of age in 2008 and it took a LONG time to see God in that).
    I needed it again today. Our pastor, my boss (i’m secretary at our church), my FRIEND gave notice at our church and i have been so sad.. and I know God IS there. I did need reminding. Thank you!

  10. christine

    thank you for following your spirit and reposting. That someone was me. God is so good on how he sends just what you need in perfect timing.

  11. Amy

    It is my first day on here and I was getting familiar with the website. Praise God I came across this story because I really needed to hear. Thank you for being obedient to God and reposting this. I’ve been struggling, the enemy has been trying to distract and discourage me, but I know to trust in God. He’s preventing things so better ones can happen. God bless you! (:

  12. Amanda Langworthy

    OH MY WORD! This made me cry, because you were being obedient to Christ telling you someone needed this today..that someone was ME! Seriously…I was just telling my best friend that I dont understand why God was opening doors for jobs, and a house and now he is closing them…i am just so confused on what it is he is doing. Thank you for this today. Thank you <3

  13. Dawn Yostt

    Lysa, thank you so much for the post on In Courage today on “I want to run away”. I am dealing with a VERY hard situation with my 18 y/o son who a little over a year ago, I couldn’t have been more proud of for every reason, excelling in school, priorities right, looking at colleges, respectful…. then he starting dating. Since he started seeing this girl, ALL that changed. He has become obsessed with her and doesn’t care about anyone or anything else. It is breaking my heart. I really needed this today to remember to cry out to God and hold fast to Him and He will see me thru this. Thanks again, I will be sharing this with my MOPS group (I’m the mentor of the group and share something everytime we meet).

  14. Kristina Sloan

    🙂 Thank you.

  15. Shannon L

    It’s funny that I read this email tonight. I receive a few different email devotions and I don’t always get to them all. So I give myself the grace to delete them and focus on doing better tomorrow. But tonight this is the first email I read. I told my husband I’m leaving at the end of the schoolyear. Our marriage has been unhappy for many years and is not getting better. We’ve tried everything. We truly love each other. We just aren’t getting along and haven’t for awhile. Its affecting our two children. I don’t know what to do other than leave. Please pray for us.

  16. Esther D

    Thank you Lysa. This really spoke to me. I’ve been praying for help for a friend of mine, asking God for her to let me in and come to her aid. Your post (and your words to your daughter) have shown me the other side of my prayers. The side that God’s plan for the situation is for me to let go and let Him handle it His way. Thank you.

  17. Esther D

    Thank you Lysa. This really spoke to me. I’ve been praying for help for a friend of mine, asking God for her to let me go to her aid. Your words to your daughter have shown me the other side of my prayers. The side that God’s plan for the situation is for me to let go and let Him handle it His way. Thank you.

  18. Laura Braho

    This was for me today. I just journaled last night “God why can’t I hear you?? How do I discern your voice from all the thoughts running around in my head.” I can sympathize with your daughter’s frustration. Thanks so much for your raw intentionality!

  19. Kathy K

    I needed this today, too. God is so awesome. He gives us what we need exactly when we need it. Thank you, Jesus. I also ask for your prayers for a situation with my son and his new bride. I pray if it’s God’s will that things work out for them. And if it’s not in God’s plan for their lives that He will give us all exactly what we need in that circumstance.

  20. Sarah

    My husband and I have been trying to conceive for over six months now. Two of our best friends were able to conceive with no problems and are expecting their babies over the next couple of months, so we’ve been really struggling with the “Dear God, where are You??” questions. Just last night we were laying in bed, wrestling through our faith and wondering what God’s plan was in all of this. So it is without a doubt in my mind that I can say, Lysa, God wanted to you to re-post this for me and my husband. He is so faithful!

  21. Arlene

    Thank you Lysa! I do remember this story and I DID need to hear this again. I am in my 50’s, divorced, just started dating again, met a wonderful Christian man, beautiful inside and out and he ended the relationship saying the Holy Spirit was telling him not to go any further with me. I am deeply saddened but not broken. Like the paper not lighting, there was no reason that our relationship wouldn’t work….except that God was saying no. And we must listen. Thanks for posting this story again!

  22. Teres

    Thanks – I needed that today and at this moment. I couldn’t open this on my phone last night – guess I didn’t need as much until today.

  23. Alicia Giess

    I loved this thought. Thank you for always putting things in perspective.

  24. Melody White

    Thanks for reposting this — brought back sweet memories of a conversation in high school between me and my Dad. I got in the car bawling because I had gotten demerits for being late to class because I couldn’t get my locker open. I burst into the car and immediately started sobbing to him “If God really loves me, why won’t my locker open…” What a blessing he was in handling my teenage angst and hormones and all of that… poor guy! And how precious to think back about how he demonstrated the Heavenly Father’s love to me that day!

  25. Samantha Livingston

    And the best line, “she asked if we could go sit by ourselves and process this situation.” A true testimony to your relationship with her and an encouragement to me as a mom. Thanks for “practicing what you preach.” Was it with Elijah when God’s voice was in the wind? 🙂

  26. Karen

    Thank you so much for reposting this today! If nobody else nneded this, I SURELY DID!!! It’s so hard when GOD has to say no, not this time. But YES we have to accept it and still trust HIM and definetly keep clinging to HIM and know HE sees the big picture when we only see the here and now! HE has me going through a fire to be refined and it hurts so bad!!!! But I also know that HE is carrying me through this and that I will be much stronger and ready for the task HE has in mind for me that lies ahead.

  27. Abby

    Hi Lysa,

    Thank you so much for this repost, accessed your blog randomly tonight – I’ve been having some marital issues and been asking myself and perhaps God too since few days “Why”.
    Amen, I believe He is i control no matter what. God bless.

  28. Kathy

    This is so timely and so like God to give us an answer just when we need it. Today, I had a woman I counsel ask me the very same question. Is God really with me? Does He really hear my prayers and cries for help? My answer was similar to what you told your sweet daughter. Yes! God is with you and He hears you. Trusting God can be hard at times when we don’t get the answer we’re looking for, but it’s always an exercise in trust and knowing God has your best interest in mind.

  29. Holly

    Definitely needed this today. Lot going on, but this week especially difficult. Yesterday was the one year anniversay of Granddad going Home as well as what would have been my 10th wedding anniversary (divorced). Sunday is my parents anniversary, but will be the first one without Dad who died last July. Thanks so much for the reminder that God is with me & He does hear.

  30. Susan Marie

    Dear Lysa, I know that this is NOT as big as the other problems I have read over.
    But we have no children-wasn’t blessed with them despite invitro etc., but we have a dog
    named YOGI-all our love we could have showered on a child went to YOGI, I don’t know if you understand but right now my heart hurts so much, he is in the hospital with liver
    & spleen lymphatic cancer diagnosed just yesterday. Happened so fast. His liver
    condition is preventing chemo to be used to put him into remission for us to hopefully
    not have to say goodbye. Please help us by praying for him, I know hes a dog, but
    we love him like a child, again, I know this might be hard to understand. My trust in GOD
    ebbs and flows, right now it is almost non existent. I feel sick with worry and fear.
    Thank you for your blog today, it was needed greatly. Please ask GOD to help YOGI-
    And if its hard to understand, I especially thank you for your kindness in praying.
    Susan Marie

  31. Sonja Bailey

    Lysa, I have been trying to find a way to reach you …I was directed to you a few years ago, since then I have lost my husband of 38 years, my daddy, and several close people in my life… I am a Child of God, I was strong and did well Till the walls crumbled and every little thing destroyed me, my abilities and pulled me away… I kicked and stomped and cried … then as I was out to pick up Renes book a Confident Heart… there was a lonely copy of your WHAT HAPPENS TO WOMEN WHO WALK IN FAITH

    wow wow wow … it is overpowering…now I am a sister to 2 brothers, both ministers, but I am so lacking of knowledge of HIS WORD… This book has brought me back to God and my ability to get thru each day…sometimes I need to re read it just to calm my anxiety… but it works…I BELIEVE God does have a PLAN, a purpose for me even something wonderful…just not today it may not be what I want but…. see that is what crumbled me…I found some thing I wanted, my heart desired… hence the kicking and all… but I know know I must desire GOD first… and HE will give me what is =best for me I have so many blessings… 5 grand children and 2 daughters that I am a part of every day friends that care and need my help and strength

    I will never forget what this book has done to me or for me… God ‘s work thru you is AMAZING

    My heart thanks you as I am sure my family does …
    Blessing Always

  32. Chantal

    I read this at about 10am this morning…at 4:30pm today I realized why you re-posted this today, We have an adopted daughter, she is the first born of now three girls from her birth mother, the third one was born just this past Mon. She left the 2nd baby girl with her parents at just 6 months. Children’s services was going to take this third baby girl but she moved into a different region and Children’s services there allowed her to take the baby home. We are all confused and worried for this baby. My husband and I long to adopt again and are willing to take this little girl into our home as our own. We are waiting on God as to what He thinks is best. I know He is ‘already there’ and with the baby girl right now. We just found all of this out today at 4:30 and have been praying about it since November when we found out. We are blessed to have the little girl we have and moments like this make me so much more appreciative of the gift of adoption and how it has created our family. Craziest thing about all of this is that Doc can not find any apparent reason why I cannot get pregnant. I have had to accept daily that God is ‘there’ too. He definitely has BIG plans for us since He has CLEARLY orchestrated it 🙂 That’s what I rest in.
    Reading your book ‘Unglued’ is really helping me right now too. I started reading it in Sept and have been SLOWLY going through it ever since. Even in Sept God knew the guidance I would need to carry me through this when I found out in November that the birth mother was pregnant again. ~ Hugs to Lysa!

  33. Mary

    Holy Cow!! I just read this one and can’t wait to share it with my daughter who is struggling with some issues. DeAnna I just want to encourage you that tho you will never forget and you have a log road of healing in front of you, God may not reveal the whys at this moment but in time you will see how He was and is there every step of the way! It’s been a long time ago but I lost my 20 month old daughter and my brother the same day 3 hours apart. I truly understand parts of your agony. May you feel God’s loving arms wrapped around you and take comfort in knowing He understands every emotion you are feeling! Just a side note you and your husband may grieve differently and that is a whole other story. Just be aware that as you both process this that it is key to understand each other have different ways. Also, talk it out! My husband never saw me cry because I didn’t let him or anyone see that… I had to be strong… Nearly did me in. I see God now in so many ways at that time but it took time.

  34. Kristi

    Even though I read this post before (and it impacted me then), I needed to see it again this week. Working through the “whys” this week of God preventing a relationship from happening. God kept giving me wait and not yet messages, then He finally closed the door on it last weekend. Just trusting that God knows it wasn’t quite right and He has someone better out there for me. I love the line about God’s power being shown in the preventing. Thank you for the reminder today.

  35. Carol

    It was for me. And I’m sure many other people but it was definitely for me. My heart is broken but I still have hope because I know that God loves me more than anyone and is constantly working for my good.

  36. Jennifer

    The day you posted this was the day I needed it most, however, I didn’t see it until today, but that does not change how much meaning it has to me. Thank you for this. Two years ago, March 12th, I cried out to God for His hand in a situation, believing that good would come from that prayer, and instead, what came after was complete brokenness. My world fell apart that night. Things I never saw coming came, and what I never thought I’d lose was gone. I still struggle with the how’s and why’s of it all, but I do trust the Who that is in the middle of every moment…I trust His hand, and I do believe that He will lead us to that place of healing that I was praying for…He just had to break us first. It has been hard and painful, but I have seen how He has already used it for His glory, including the ways He has changed me. I look forward to the day that I will better understand why the flame I sought didn’t ignite that night…and I know that when I see the outcome He has planned, it will be beautiful.

  37. Lashanda

    Hi Lisa
    I really enjoyed this story and can relate to it..Im going through a my life right now and I feel so unglued…my family and I recently lost our home and I was accident and lost partial activity of my legs..unglued is exactly how I feel some days..but I know god does everything for a reason..I tell my four children daily to trust God and this storm is only temporary..please pray for our family..Thank you for the spiritually uplifting devotional..God bless you

  38. Lauren Hardy @ Making Life Sweet


    This couldn’t be any more relevant to my life right now as I wait to hear back from several magazines and companies about a summer internship. At the same time, my father has been unemployed off and on for the past two out of three years. It’s so hard to understand why certain things happen and others don’t. But you’re right — just like in your daughter’s situation, it all comes back to TRUST.

    Take care,

  39. Susan

    I needed this reminder after a recent bath disaster. We sometimes need to add to our, “Please help me, God” prayer. We have to come against our enemy and say, “Satan, get your hands off my match and let my paper burn, in Jesus name!” In my case, I might have said, “Satan get your hands off my home and finances and let my light shine, in Jesus name!” God loves me and has brought good out of all this. Praise God! I love Him back!

  40. Debi Owinyo

    Your time with your daughter and discovery of God’s hand in the disappointment brought tears close to the surface, but when I went to the comments and read over and over that you spoke directly to the readers, the tears ran. It’s amazing that your experience and obedience in sharing it connected with so many in their point of need. God is so good and so loving!
    Thank you, Lysa. Your posts always speak to me as a mother and a child of God.

  41. amanda

    Sarah…. keep your faith. My friend and her husband tried for YEARS before she conceived. Now she has 3 beautiful children and they are missionaries in Thailand. I understand the pain of friends having babies when you so desperately want your own….. been there. But God has a plan and His timing will be the right time.

  42. amanda

    Funny I responded to Sarah about God’s timing and this past week I faced my own crisis regarding it. My sister has been jumping through hoops with the courts and CYS trying to regain custody of her children and it looked as though it was going to actually happen….. but it didn’t. I felt so angry at God because it feels like every time I pray the opposite happens. I actually told God that I was done with prayer. How foolish. God sees tomorrow and only He knows what would’ve happened had they come home too early. Only He knows when the time is right and I trust He will be there when it is.

  43. Suzy Negrette

    Thank you…for allowing God to use you.
    I am going to share this with my daughter tomorrow who is struggling with this very thing and I just did not know what to say.

  44. Ann Alexander

    Thank you so much for re-posting this… like so many others, I am struggling to understand God’s action (or inaction) in finding employment. I have to remember to “lean not on my own understanding…” but that is so difficult when staring at looming financial crisis. Thank you for the reminder that God is walking with me, protecting me and guiding me through this. I have to try and stop “figuring” things out… and try to relax in His peace. Thank you, Lysa.

  45. Sarah

    Thank you for posting this. I needed this reminder. In some ways, I feel like God has set me aside and forgotten about me. I’ve been praying for so long for answers that don’t seem to be coming, and nothing about it makes sense. I know that God is Sovereign, and He hears every cry and every prayer of my heart though.

  46. bonnie goodman

    I especially needed to hear this today. Thank you!

  47. Tracy

    Thanks Lysa – That’s so encouraging. I was reading the post from today and then scrolled down to this one. In June we are all so wrapped up in camp that I don’t get online. I shared this on the camp facebook page. I know many girls will appreciate the encouragement and memories. I wish I had as thorough of an answer when my girls faced their challenges. But it is an answer that applies to so many prayer needs!

  48. Elaine

    Thank s

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