"We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention."
- - Gordon B. Hinckley
October 30, 2013
Help from the Scriptures When Answers Don't Seem to Come
by Kathryn Grant

Have you ever prayed for guidance or help, only to receive no discernible answer? This situation can be one of the most challenging aspects of our mortal journey. But there’s something we can always do at times like these: turn to the scriptures. Here are three scriptural principles that are particularly helpful when answers don’t seem to come.

Principle 1: We may already have the help or answer we need and just not realize it.

They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (2 Kings 6:16)

Remember Elisha’s frightened young companion who saw the enemy armies approaching, and cried, “Alas, my master, how shall we do?” In answer to Elisha’s prayer, the young man’s eyes were opened, and he saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17)

Just because we can’t see the help doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If we ask the Lord to open our eyes, we may find assistance we hadn’t seen before.

Behold, you have received a witness.” (D&C 6:24)

Oliver Cowdery once prayed for a witness and was told he had already received one. My sister had an interesting experience along these lines. She was working on family history and felt stumped. She prayed and prayed for help, but didn’t seem to get an answer. Then she realized that she hadn’t acted on a prompting she had already received. Once she did that, the way opened before her and she began to make progress again.

Principle 2: We may still need to prepare ourselves to receive the answer.

For ye dissembled in your hearts....” (Jeremiah 42:20)

Sometimes we need to ask ourselves a hard question: If I got an answer I didn’t like, would I still be obedient?

Just after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, the city was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. A remnant of frightened Jews asked the prophet Jeremiah to pray to the Lord to find out what they should do (Jeremiah 42:2 – 3). The people promised that no matter what, they would obey the voice of the Lord through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 42:6).

However, when Jeremiah came back with an answer they didn’t like, they accused him of “speaking falsely” (Jeremiah 43:2) and they refused to follow his counsel. As a result, they gave up the Lord’s blessing and protection, and instead chose a path that led to sword, famine, and pestilence (Jeremiah 42:22).

Before we pray, it’s worth asking ourselves if we’re truly open to the Lord’s guidance. If we find we aren’t, we may need to humble our hearts so we’re willing to accept the help we’re praying for — even if it isn’t what we’re expecting.

Principle 3: There may be a greater purpose at work.

I am glad for your sakes that I was not there.” (John 11:15)

When the Savior received word of His dear friend Lazarus’ death, His response was probably surprising for those who were with Him: “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there.” What? Glad He was not there to heal His friend and prevent him from dying?

But Jesus explained the reason for His delay: “to the intent that ye may believe.” There was something important to be accomplished through Lazarus’ death, something that would underscore the Savior’s divine power and teach us more about His ways. The disappointment of Lazarus’ death was just a small part of the greater triumphant story.

As Elder Richard G. Scott explained,

God loves you to a depth and completeness you cannot conceive of in your mortal state. Indeed, were you to know His entire plan, you would never ask for that which is contrary to it even though your feelings tempt you to do so.... We can accept His will with peace and assurance, confident that His infinite wisdom surpasses our own ability to comprehend fully His plan as it unfolds a piece at a time.

The One who said He would never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) keeps that promise, and one way He does so is through the scriptures. When answers don’t seem to come, we can find comfort and guidance there, and even the very answers we seek.

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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