“Why does God not listen to me when I have tough times?”  This is a question I’ve read in several various forms quite frequently lately on social media.

I personally have been through many tough times, and I would be lying if I said the same question had not crossed my mind many times before I came to the understanding I have today.  God hears everything and sees everything.  Actually, he knows what is going to happen long before we can think about it.  You may ask, “So why does God not answer my prayers?”  The country music artist Garth Brooks recorded a great song titled Unanswered Prayers that talks about thanking God for not answering them.  Sometimes God’s best work is not seen right away.  Sometimes the smoke needs to clear away after the fire before the repairs can begin.  

I can say this because of my personal experiences that even your darkest of times and most tragic of losses can lead to blessings you would never have thought possible.  Granted, at the time, the pain of that experience can be difficult to bear, and there may seem to be no recourse, but God always has a more excellent plan for those who pray and are patient for the answer to play out.  God, though he is the grandest of rulers, King of Kings, and Master of all he surveys is not a show-off.  He does his best work in small pieces that become more significant works.

I have come up with the figurative visualization of rainbows to explain this a little better.  After a summer rainstorm, there is a high chance if you look, you will find a rainbow.  Most people, when asked where do you find rainbows they say to “lookup in the sky.”  God’s work and answers are much like rainbows.  Sure, sometimes you see them boldly visible and able to be seen for miles.  Other times they are only seen for a brief time.  Maybe we are spending too much time looking up at the sky and waiting to see the big rainbows that we miss the small ones that happen around us.

When I was a kid playing with the garden hose, I used to be amazed (actually I still am today) when the sunlight would shine through the mist of water creating a small rainbow. I would stand there looking at it, trying to count the colors.  Later during my middle school years, we played with prisms.  If you don’t know what a prism is, it is a triangular-shaped glass object that, when held or set up correctly, shows you the colors in the light spectrum.  Just like the garden hose when the light hits it just right, you see the colors in the rainbow.  

Photo of a prism
Photo by Dobromir Hristov from Pexels

Sometimes we need to pay attention to the little rainbows instead of the big ones.  But the little ones only appear when God is ready to shine his light to make them appear to us.  The rainbows are always around us every day, but only when it is time for God’s more excellent plan to come into focus does Jesus hand us the garden hose or prism to make them aware to us.  So pay attention and look for those little rainbows in your life instead of the big ones.  God does his best work in them, they are where the answers to prayers, come into our lives.

21 At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

22 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then when they were alone, he turned to the disciples and said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. 24 I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Luke 10:21-24 (NLT)