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The Lack of Understanding and Heeding Help From God

Way too often, people rely on God in ways that aren’t intended and ignore the answers to prayers. By all means, every decision should be prayed about, but if people don’t accept the help God gives, they nearly always suffer consequences.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Clearly, praying to God about everything is a good thing. The disconnect occurs when we try to use our own understanding to grasp what God’s answer is. The following parable illustrates this point, and of course, being a parable, it didn’t actually happen. It is used just to get the point across.


A man had heard warnings of a major storm that was coming his way. His home had gone through worse storms. He prayed to God to protect him. When the evacuation order came, the man ignored it, having faith that God would help him.

Soon, heavy rains and rising water were up to the bottom of the man’s front door. Again, he prayed to God for help. A short while later, the local neighborhood watch knocked at his door, offering to help him evacuate. He refused, saying that God would protect him.

The relentless storm continued, and soon the waters inside the man’s house were four feet deep. The man prayed to God for help, yet again, taking refuge in an upstairs bedroom. A short time later, a rescue team in a boat rapped on a window, urging him to get into the boat so they could take him to safety. He refused, telling them that God would protect him.

The storm intensified and soon the man was forced to crawl out onto his roof and clutch perilously to a chimney while the water kept rising and swirling around him. Most of his home was underwater and there was no end in sight. Yet again, the man prayed hard to God, asking for deliverance from his emergency. Less than 15 minutes later, a Coast Guard helicopter spotted him, clinging to the chimney and waist-deep in water, even on the roof.

They tried to convince the man to let them rescue him, to no avail. The man felt that his faith was strong and he told them, “My God will rescue me. I believe in the Lord.” Finally, they had to leave, so they could rescue others.

A short time later, the water finally covered the man’s head and he made the last prayer.

“Lord, why haven’t you rescued me? I’ve prayed to you and had faith that you’d help. Why have you forsaken me?”

God answered, saying, “I didn’t forsake you. You didn’t accept the help I offered you.”

“I don’t understand,” the man said.

“When you first prayed for help, I sent people from your neighborhood to rescue you. You refused. You prayed for help again and I sent men in a boat to rescue you. You refused. You prayed yet again and I sent a helicopter to save you. You refused. You denied me three times when I sent help. I will not force you to accept the help that I offer. That is a choice that only you can make. It is sad because I had great plans for you. You lacked faith.”


The man in the parable was sent help repeatedly and was even given warnings before he was in trouble. Since it wasn’t what he expected, he ignored the help all three times it was offered, not recognizing that it was coming from God.

God often uses other people to supply an answer to any given prayer. If we rely on our own understanding, we can become blinded and unable to see that the help came from God. If the man had truly had faith, he would have accepted the help that was offered, from the very beginning, or avoided the situation. However, he had more faith in himself than he had in God.

  • Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you thought, “I wish I’d accepted the help when it was offered”?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I’ve never thought about it this way
    • I don’t pray


What do you think?

13 Points

Written by Rex Trulove


  1. I have heard this type of story many times before.

    Is this really how God operates, only via other people?

    Why does God not act directly anymore?

    Why does God not act in better ways?

    In the Old Testament, of the Christian Bible, is an interesting story about how the Israelites once won a battle.

    It’s from, Exodus, chapter 17: verses 8-14.

    War with the Amalekites

    The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Pick out some men to go and fight the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on top of the hill, holding the staff that God told me to carry.”

    Joshua did as Moses commanded him and went out to fight the Amalekites, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites won, but when he put his arms down, the Amalekites started winning.

    When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. In this way, Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites.

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write an account of this victory, so that it will be remembered. Tell Joshua that I will completely destroy the Amalekites.”

    Like with this story of Moses holding up his arms to allow them, the Israelites, to win the skirmish over another army, why didn’t God just create a fissure in the ground to separate the two fighting groups, so nobody had to die by the sword there?

    I guess that the answer is that God’s ways are his own ways, and often they are set that way to get us to act for ourselves, for God is a lazy God, in our definition of the word, as he does nothing, if others can do it for him.

    • God often does act directly, though people are often lacking when it comes to recognizing it. Also, God always acts in good ways, even when we don’t recognize it. God does all things for good. His timetable isn’t the same as ours, however, he is constantly working and his timing is always perfect.

      • Thanks Rex.

        I like your reply, but then again, we cannot really answer for God, can we?

        And yet, I agree with you. God is a good God, and all he does is good.

        That said, most people split good and bad events according to their own understanding, not God’s understanding, and wisdom plan for them, and for the world.

        Nothing makes perfect sense then to anyone, but to God.

        • That is something that people have struggled with for a long time. Because of a lack of understanding, people are often unfortunately apt to blame God for bad things that happen, when it obviously isn’t God that is the cause of the bad things. What amazes me is how God can take a bad circumstance that He had nothing to do with and turn it into something incredibly positive. I can’t begin to number the times this has happened to me during my lifetime. Many bad things have happened during my life, often due to bad choices on my part, and invariably God has turned them around to work to my benefit. That is astounding.

          • Yes, it is astonishing what God can turn around for good.

            I feel his love for us is the force behind these miracles.

            God’s love turns things around. As soon as love gets to the heart of any matter, changes start to occur. The cold heart does not allow this.

            As long as we stay open to God, God’s love flows into us openly then too, and so every circumstance works for God, when his love works in us for him too.

    • For that matter, God is by your side at all times, period. It isn’t always easy to remember that the help He sends may not be at all what we expect. His was are far greater than our ways.

    • Thank you. I sometimes feel that we all occasionally need a reminder that the help can come in ways that we don’t at all expect. That is why we should be thankful for everything, good and bad because God knows what He’s doing and we don’t.