Tears streamed down my cheeks as I sat across a long-time beloved family member. I poured out my heart over the spiraling addiction crisis ripping our family and my marriage apart. As one who’d walked for decades in the same situation, she sat and listened. I noticed that her mouth set in a hard thin line of painful understanding.
For all of my poured out tears and pleas for help, she sat stoic and still. Her responses to my words were short and unfeeling. I felt a cold chill of rejection and immediately wished that I’d kept my tears to myself. I wondered why she couldn’t have at least reached over and hugged me? Maybe just patted my hand. Yet, there was nothing.
I’d been praying for over six years at that point for God to do something that would save our family from the stealthy addiction and return us to the happy and whole life that we’d known years before. Every morning, I lowered my body onto a small stool in my office closet, surrounded by note cards of scriptures and prayers taped to the wall. I prayed scripture, fasted weekly, rebuked demons, but most of all, pleaded with God to do what only He could do. Each day, I waited.
Talking with others about such a sensitive issue like addiction terrified me. Telling the truth and then asking for help took all of the courage that I had. So when my courage was met with silence and then rejection, my broken heart broke just a little more.
In ancient times, a woman named Hannah experienced years of infertility, even though I know that she prayed with the same passion and veracity that I prayed in my little War Room closet. Like me, some of Hannah’s family didn’t care about her prayers either.
As much as her husband, Elkanah loved his wife and tried to make her feel better, he didn’t really listen to the heart of her pain. “Why are you so downhearted just because you have no children? You have me – isn’t that better than having ten sons?” Bless his heart, right?
While Elkanah was loving, yet ignorant, his other wife Peninniah was just downright mean. Since Hannah’s name is mentioned first in 1 Samuel 1, it is reasonable to assume that she was his first wife. However, once Hannah didn’t become pregnant, Elkanah took another wife to give him children. During ancient times, there were some men who took multiple wives. This wasn’t God’s best plan, but He allowed people to freely choose how they would live (Deuteronomy 17:17) In this case, Peninnah lived to torment Hannah for not being unable to have children. “So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children.” -1 Samuel 1:16
Unfortunately, there are mean-spirited Peninnahs all around to discourage God’s daughters who are praying, yet still waiting for an answer to their prayers. Have you ever prayed for a rescue, a renewal, or a breakthrough with every cell of your heart only to have the people closest to you make fun of you, criticize you, or not even ask about how you are hanging in there? As they say, it’s the wounds of the ones closest to us that often hurt the most. So, how do we handle family or even close friends who don’t seem to care about our prayers?
1. QTIP or “Quit Taking It Personally”
This is one of my favorite sayings! What this slogan means is that I will not allow someone’s reply or reaction to what I’ve said minimize my self-worth or the importance of the situation to me.
When you whisper a reminder to yourself to QTIP, you don’t allow the reaction or responses of others to emotionally own you or minimize your situation. If they condemn, criticize, or fail to ask how you’re doing, just say, “I’m gonna QTIP that!” and keep it moving with faith and assurance that God cares about what you’re going through.
2. Live at Peace
Romans 12:18 teaches us that as much as it is up to us, we should live at peace with everyone. This is really hard when family members aren’t supportive or they are critical. I remember when a close family member used various Bible verses to judge some of my behaviors. I had two choices: get angry and say something that I would need to apologize for later or end the conversation. I ended the conversation by saying, “This is no longer a good conversation for both of us. I will give you a call later.”
Like Peninnah, you may have family members who will never be supportive, whether God answers your prayers or not. But, you can live at peace by accepting them for who they are and not reducing yourself to their unkind behavior.
3. Pray Boldly!
Don’t let unsupportive family or friends stop you from praying boldly to God! I love Hannah’s example in 1 Samuel 1:10-11, where she prayed boldly for a son and then gave him back to God before her prayer was even answered. Keep praying, especially because God hears your prayers! Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to come boldly before God because He will give us the grace and mercy that we need.
If you’ve been praying for months or years for a rescue, renew or a breakthrough and your family has let you down, God is always there for you. Draw strength from his unfailing love, compassion and power for you today.