Encouragement for Today - September 22, 2005


September 22

Encouragement for Today


“A Surprising Answer”


Susanne Scheppmann, Co-Editor of Online Devotions, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member


Key Verse:


Isaiah 55:8-9, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (NIV) 




“I hate you!” she said as the door slammed behind her.  I recalled, with a sigh, the ten long years that I had been praying for the Lord to bring my stepdaughter, Erin, a Christian friend. Since she was living in another state, we held little sway of influence as Christian parents. My husband and I longed to raise her in our Christian home.


Now however, she was sixteen and attending high school. I doubted we would ever have the opportunity for her to live with us. So what could I do? I prayed for a Christian friend to move into Erin’s life to introduce her to Jesus Christ.


I prayed. I wrote in my prayer journal of the desires and concerns regarding Erin. Yet, I saw few positive results.  In fact, just the opposite appeared to happen. We discovered Erin was getting involved in some questionable relationships. She started down a path of self-destruction. Although, familiar with Psalm 139:4, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord (NIV),” I began to question if God even heard my prayers for Erin.


Then on a dreary December night, we received a call from Erin’s mother. A crisis hovered over us. Erin had locked herself in the bathroom, threatening suicide over an inappropriate relationship, which her mother had discovered. My husband immediately requested Erin stay with us, at least through the upcoming Christmas vacation. He left within the hour to be with her, pack her bags, and drive her to our home.


Erin arrived angry and full of rebellion.  Turmoil decorated our home, not pleasant Christmas memories.  Little did I know, I had just begun one of the most difficult seasons of my adult life.  With her mother’s grudging consent, Erin came to live with us on a full-time basis. As a blended family adjusting to a new member, we felt we were being pureed in a family-dysfunctional blender. We fought, we cried, and we prayed. I did not believe we would survive. My faith ran low in believing any change could occur. Although my faith faltered, my prayers prevailed.


The night she yelled, “I hate you!” I curled up in bed, discouraged and exhausted. Again, the question surfaced, “Lord, do you hear me at all?” I picked up my prayer journal from the nightstand, thumbed through the pages of the past year. The written record of my prayers pleaded, “Lord, bring her a Christian friend!” Suddenly, I saw the answer to my prayer. God could use me to be the friend who would point her to God.


From that moment on, I worked diligently to win her confidence and trust. Erin stayed with us until she graduated from high school two years later. As our friendship grew, I had the honor of seeing her accept Christ at a youth conference and then be baptized shortly afterward.  


Was it easy? No. Does Erin still struggle with life issues and rebellion? Absolutely! Do I still pray for her? Yes, indeed!  I know God hears and answer my prayers.


However, God affirms this verse in my life time and again, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.   "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV).” He surprises and challenges me with His answers.


What surprise answers lay within your prayers?


My Prayer for Today:


Lord, remind me how You always hear my prayers.  Open my eyes to the answers You give in response to my requests.  Help me to understand when You answer my prayers in completely different ways than what I may expect.  Let me accept that Your thoughts and ways are higher than mine.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Application Steps: 


If you record your prayers in a journal, take 15 minutes to review past prayer requests.  Ask yourself, Has God answered any of these prayers, and have I overlooked His obvious answer?


Or begin today to record your prayer requests in a notebook.  Jot down the date and the request.  Leave room for notes on how God answers your prayers in the future.



Reflection Points: 


Do I believe God hears my prayers?


Do I dictate to God how He should answer my prayers?


How has God surprised me with an answer different than the one I expected?


Do I acknowledge that His ways are “higher than my ways” when I pray?



Power Verses:


Psalm 91:15, “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (NIV) 


Isaiah 58:9a, “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”(NIV) 


Psalm 34:17, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” (NIV) 


Psalm 55:17, “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” (NIV) 


Additional Resources:


Living Life on Purpose, by Lysa TerKeurst



Intimate Moments with God, by Sharon Jaynes



Message of the Month Club


Originally published Thursday, 22 September 2005.