It’s time once again to enter that spinning, swirling vortex known as The Doctor’s mailbag. Yes, this is the very place where spiritual questions and answers of interest to the youth community take center stage. So without further delay, let’ get to our first question…
Why doesn't God seem to be answering my prayers?
Many people experience times when it seems as if God isn’t listening to their prayers. Sometimes people pray for God to get involved in their particular situation but nothing seems to happen. Their motives may be right, their relationship with God may be good and they might be seeking God in faith but still their difficulties remain. So why does it sometimes seem as if God isn’t answering when we pray? Well, while it might seem as if God isn’t listening it could be that God is purposely delaying His answers for some very good reasons. Here’s a few…
- To strengthen us spiritually
- To test and increase our faith
- To verify His existence to non-Christians
- To develop character and endurance in our lives
- To serve as an example to other Christians to show them how to properly handle trials and adversities
Sometimes God may delay His answers and allow difficulties to continue in our lives for the purpose of helping others who are going through similar difficulties. After all, who is better equipped to help someone with a problem than the person who has gone through that same problem themselves? Or as it says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4…
It’s also helpful to remember that the Bible tells us that some basic things are necessary if we wish to see God answer our prayers. This would include…
- Faith (see Hebrews 11:6)
- “Remaining,” “staying” or “abiding” in Jesus (John 15:7)
- Asking for things that are in line with God’s Holy character and not out of our own selfish desires (James 4:3)
- Asking for things that are in God’s will (1John 5:14)
It’s a hard thing to pray in the midst of some difficulty and feel like God isn’t listening. It’s even worse to feel like He is listening but chooses not to answer. However, you should also keep this in mind: There may be times when God does answer our prayers but because His answer is not the one that we were hoping for, we choose not to hear it. It may be helpful to ask God to help you to be sensitive and accepting of His answers to your prayers whatever those answers may be.
The Doctor is not always sure why things happen the way they do in our lives but he does know that God has a purpose for you in the situation that you are praying about. He also knows that Romans 8:28 is ultimately in effect: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).
Aren't certain styles of Christian music inappropriate?
When it comes to this question, it’s important to recognize that music is a very controversial issue with lots of people. Many people have strongly held beliefs on this issue and it’s important to let the Bible shape our thinking when thinking about this subject. When it comes to different styles of Christian music, a very important principal is found in 1 Corinthians 10:23…
This means that even though it may be perfectly lawful for you to listen to a certain style of music, it may not necessarily be a good idea. For example, The Doctor once had a friend who wouldn’t listen to Christian rap music. When asked why, he said that such music generated a lot of unhealthy memories of the inappropriate music that he used to listen to before he became a Christian. So for him, Christian rap was lawful but not helpful- get it? This simple Biblical principal can be very useful in deciding which styles of music are appropriate for you and which aren’t.
Another really important principal is found at the end of chapter 14 of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this portion of Scripture, Paul is talking about the question of whether it’s OK to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols. Now this may not seem to have very much to do with the subject of music but stay with it because the things that Paul talks about here can definitely be applied to this question…
If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall” (Romans 14:13-23 NIV).
Ok, here’s the application of those verses with regard to different musical styles …
- If our choice of music is a stumbling block to another Christian, then our responsibility is to put their best interests first and not to flaunt our freedom to listen to it.
- Everyone is different and if someone regards a particular style of music as wrong, then for them it is.
- Love is the standard by which we judge what is right and wrong when it comes to differences of opinion over things such as music.
- The kingdom of God is not a matter of what kind of music we are free to enjoy but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification when discussing such things as music. “Agree to disagree” if necessary and maintain brotherly love.
- If you have faith enough to listen to certain styles of music that others may feel are inappropriate then have it to yourself before God. Resist the desire to “convince” others because whatever is not of faith is sin.
One last thing before The Doctor gets off this subject. If you are having a disagreement with your parents over what styles of music are OK for you to listen to, then your responsibility is to honor your parents (see Exodus 20:12). Perhaps you can reach some kind of agreement if you pray and talk it over. But if not, don’t go behind your parent’s backs and listen to it anyway. It’s not right and it doesn’t honor God.
Why do other Christians say hurtful things even though they know it's wrong?
There could be a number of reasons. Here’s a few possibilities…
Sometimes people become angry and say things they shouldn’t.
A good example of this occurs in Acts 23:3 where Paul the Apostle was ordered to appear before the High Court. After Paul stated that he had a clear conscience, the high priest ordered that he was to be slapped in the mouth for making such a bold statement. Paul’s heated response to this was to say, “…God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” Later Paul backed off from this outburst although it doesn’t say that he ever apologized (Acts 23:5).
Sometimes people are hurt by confrontation.
Have you ever heard the expression, “the truth hurts”? Well, it’s true that loving confrontation can sometimes be hurtful. Paul again provides us with a good example of this from the Scriptures. In Galatians 2:11 we’re told of a confrontation between Paul and Peter when it says, “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” It surely must have been painful for Peter to be confronted in this manner but Paul obviously believed that the need for loving confrontation outweighed the temporary hurt feelings that his confrontation may have caused.
Sometimes people say hurtful things out of ignorance.
This can happen when we unknowingly make an offhand comment or ask a question that brings up painful memories. An example of this occurred a some time ago when a co-worker of The Doctor went to call on an elderly female client. When he asked the woman about her husband, she responded tearfully that her husband had recently passed away. In this case, an innocent comment unknowingly caused this woman great pain. Sometimes we can avoid causing this kind of pain simply by being a little more sensitive to others but sometimes it can’t be avoided at all.
Sometimes a person’s pain causes them to say hurtful things.
Sometimes a person under great emotional stress will lash out at others who try to help them. Financial problems, divorce, death of a loved one, painful injuries or other forms of stress may cause someone to “blow up” at a seemingly innocent comment. At times like this, it’s important to recognize these other factors that may be causing the person to say hurtful things and be as gracious and forgiving as possible (see Galatians 6:2).
Sometimes people intentionally say hurtful things.
As much as we hate to think about it, the unfortunate truth is that people sometimes intentionally say things to hurt others. In fact, Paul himself was a victim of these kinds of people. For instance, listen to these words that Paul wrote from a lonely jail cell…
When people say things that are hurtful, the best response is to ask God to give us wisdom and love for the person who has hurt us. Our example should always be Jesus Himself who “…never answered back when insulted; when he suffered he did not threaten to get even; he left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Do you have a question for The Doctor? Just send it to the email address below- you’ll get a personal reply and you just might see it answered here.