Have you ever wanted something so bad that it hurts? Your thoughts are consumed with dreams, plans, or prayers to make it happen . . . but you have no control over the outcome. So how do you handle the heartbreak when your hopes are shattered instead of fulfilled?

A few years ago, I wrote an article titled “Dealing with Disappointment” about my struggle with infertility. Even after God gave us Connor through in-vitro fertilization, my longings continued for a second child. Bob and I pushed forward through many more rounds of fertility treatments, and I had a second pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage . . . but we never had another child.  I was devasated.

But here I am years later, and my heart is in a different place. One moment radically changed my interpretation of these events (and my entire relationship with God), so here's the rest of the story . . .

My whole life, everyone taught me that prayer was always the right response. Even Scripture says we are to “pray without ceasing,” and though this directive felt a bit daunting, I fully believed God designed us to be people of prayer. I believed we were to pray with faith and boldness, and to persist in our petitions until we got a breakthrough. Isn’t that what the parable about the unjust judge teaches, that we are to “always pray and never give up?” (Luke 18:1-8) However, there are two distinct times in my life when I am certain God told me not to pray. They both surprised me, and they both redefined my understanding of Him.

The first time was at my work. As a physician assistant, I often have opportunities to pray with my patients. It is a privilege and a joy every time I connect someone with the love of God through prayer. I believe my heart was right in doing this, and it often brought peace and encouragement to the patients.  However, one day . . .