When God Answers with an Oxygen Mask

| May 22, 2017

Unanswered Prayers: Sometimes, the answer God gives you isn't the answer that you wanted, but it's the answer you needed.

Have you ever wondered why you can see God’s hand in some areas of your life, but not so much in others? Maybe like me, you’ve even asked Him. It’s not that you’re not thankful, you just want to know why.

That was a conversation I had with God a few months ago.

The Back Story

The second half of 2016 was rough. After multiple large, unexpected expenses, loss of my part-time job when my position was eliminated, and ongoing family medical concerns, I was tired. I knew God was walking with me. I’d seen His work along the way. But, still, I was worn out.

As January 2017 began, the one-after-another extra expenses had slowed down. There were still bills to be caught up on, but I began to see some new employment opportunities. I saw God at work in obvious ways in several areas of my life and watching His plan unfold re-energized my hope.

There was still one area, though, where there was no visible change—my loved one’s medical concerns. Every time I tried to move forward to make something happen, I felt like I hit a brick wall. My efforts went nowhere and I wondered if I was supposed to stop trying.

As I showered and dressed one morning, I had one of my heart-to-heart talks with God. I thanked Him for the opportunities He was presenting—I knew without a doubt He was at work. And in the next breath, I asked why. Why was He helping me and not my loved one? Why was I feeling hopeful in one area and hopeless in another?

unexpected answersI knew that He hadn’t chosen sides and that His help wasn’t limited to me, but sometimes what we know and feel don’t work together.

I wanted the hope I was feeling to spread into all areas of my life, but honestly, I felt guilty that my situation was improving when we’d seen no healing in the medical issues that had gone on for so long.

Feeling thankful and frustrated at the same time confused me. How could I be so confident and thankful, while at the same time crying out why? And when? I prayed and cried that morning, not expecting an explanation, but just needing to express my feelings. And yet, He answered—in a way I did not anticipate.

An Unexpected Answer

I immediately thought about the oxygen mask instructions given to passengers before a flight takes off. When traveling with a child, the parent is to secure her own oxygen mask first, and then the child’s mask.

Now, you have to understand, there was no logical reason for me to think of this. I haven’t flown in over a decade, and have no vacation plans that involve flying. There was no recent story of a plane crash or emergency landing that I was aware of, and I hadn’t been in, or overheard, any recent conversations involving flights or airlines.

There was no reason for oxygen mask instructions to come to mind… except that I asked God why and He answered.

A mother has to have her own oxygen so that she has the ability and strength to help her child.

His answer that morning wasn’t the miracle healing I begged for. It was an explanation I could understand.

Just Breathe

Perhaps God was helping me catch my breath first so that I’d be ready for the next part of His plan.

All plans have details to be sorted out, and God’s plans are intricately designed. I don’t know the timing of the details, but He does, and I would have to trust that He was putting things in place for what was to come. If He supplies an oxygen mask, I’d best put it on, even especially when I don’t know what’s coming.

In the meantime, I needed to wait patiently and walk in obedience—one step at a time. God’s plan would unfold in His time. As I saw the doors He was opening, it strengthened my faith that He was with us. Not just me, but my entire family.

Each time I began to panic and worry again about the situation, I reminded myself to follow God’s lead. When the time was right, He would make things happen.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

The outcome might not be what I had in mind, and it certainly was long after the time frame I requested, but I had to trust Him. When I pushed to make things happen, it was difficult and didn’t go well, or nothing happened at all. But, when I waited until He nudged me forward, the path He outlined was smoother and easier to travel.

In many ways, I’m still waiting, but being able to look back at the open doors I’ve walked through gives me the ability to keep waiting. It strengthens my faith. And it reinforces my trust in His way over my own.

Sometimes God will whisper an answer or explanation. Had I not been listening as I prayed that morning, I would have missed it, and I would have missed the comfort that came with it.

Can You Relate?

Are there any areas in your life where you are struggling to see God move? Or has He given you an answer you didn’t expect? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.


Laura Rath

Laura Rath enjoys writing to encourage women in their walk with Christ. She shares stories of her own faith journey on her blog, www.laurarath.blogspot.com, and is a regular contributor for several Christian websites, including God-sized Dreams, LifeLetter Café, and Christian Devotions. Laura is a wife and mother and enjoys spending time with her family, reading, going deeply into God’s Word, and speaking to groups of women. You can find her on her blog, as well as Twitter and Facebook.

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54 Comments

  • Reply Nicole Kauffman May 22, 2017 at 8:53 am

    I love the comparison to an oxygen mask on an airplane! Such encouragement here 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!
    Nicole Kauffman recently posted…Learning to Surrender an Anxious HeartMy Profile

  • Reply Andrea May 22, 2017 at 11:45 am

    As long as God is walking with us along the path – no matter what…

  • Reply Alice Mills May 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    I totally identify. Learning to walk on water still means you aren’t on solid ground. It just means you aren’t drowning either!
    Alice Mills recently posted…What Armor Are You Wearing?My Profile

  • Reply Victoria May 22, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    It’s probably safe to say that since I’ve lost my son that I will have a permanent oxygen mask. That’s okay. It’s part of the plan, and it keeps me close to Him.

    • Reply Laura Rath May 22, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Victoria, I’m so sorry for your loss! I love your point though. An oxygen mask does keep us close to the One who provides the oxygen. There’s no better place to be!
      Laura Rath recently posted…When God Answers with an Oxygen MaskMy Profile

  • Reply Heather May 22, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    This is something we could all do well to remember. It is so difficult being human lol! God is always there though to help us along and trusting in him, his plan and most importantly his timing is crucial to being content and satisfied no matter what life has handed us!

  • Reply Erin May 22, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    Wow. Just…wow. Can I share this on my FB page? Loved it.
    Erin recently posted…Blessings…My Profile

  • Reply Tara May 23, 2017 at 7:32 am

    I feel like we are nearing the end of one of our waiting places. We have waited for an answer to this for a long time. Hopefully I am right. God has blessed us along the way and I know that He is at work even when we don’t see how.
    Tara recently posted…Join the Picnic Parade: The Sign Painter’s DreamMy Profile

  • Reply Lisa notes May 23, 2017 at 10:41 am

    This is a great example of trusting God’s faithfulness, even when we can’t understand it at first (or for a very long time!). This is true for me too: “Sometimes what we know and feel don’t work together. I wanted the hope I was feeling to spread into all areas of my life.” Thanks for sharing this portion of your journey, Laura!
    Lisa notes recently posted…Just Get MovingMy Profile

  • Reply Sue Moore Donaldson May 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Yes there are areas especially as I see the deep needs of some friends – so I call them to God’s attention on a regular basis and love on them as best I can while we wait on His most excellent plan. Thanks, Laura!
    Sue Moore Donaldson recently posted…Every Table Tells a Story: Serving the Body–Table or NotMy Profile

  • Reply Kristi May 23, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    I love how God comforts us with His answers to our prayers. It is true that if we are not willing to listen, we can easily miss his answer. Thankful you heard him!
    Kristi recently posted…The Images in Our MindsMy Profile

  • Reply Karen Woodall May 24, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Totally get your analogy. We cannot help others if we are gasping for our own breath. Holding on to that one. Thanks, and bless you as you breathe deeply in the love and grace and mercy of God Almighty.
    Karen Woodall recently posted…Good Friends – Bad AdviceMy Profile

  • Reply Debbie Kitterman May 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Laura – hopping over from your site, where I also left a comment. 🙂 I love how God responded with an answer, even if it wasn’t the healing answer you were looking for, He didn’t leave you hanging. Putting on our oxygen masks are so very important, especially for what’s to come, and so we can help others too. Blessings

    • Reply Laura Rath May 26, 2017 at 10:30 pm

      Here’s to watching for God’s way of answering, even when it’s not exactly what we want to hear! Blessings to you Debbie!
      Laura Rath recently posted…Jesus in a Changing WorldMy Profile

  • Reply A girl May 24, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Laura your Beautiful inside out! 🙂

  • Reply Kari Grace May 24, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I’m so thankful there are folks out there willing to share the love of Jesus with a perfect stranger. Stay blessed, keep writing, and if you ever consider a new publisher please think of CrossEffective Publishing. I’d lovemaking to work with you. K

  • Reply Michele Morin May 25, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Such a good word picture! So often I forget to do the things that I know I need to do in order to BE all that God wants me to be for my family. Joining you today in pulling down that mask!
    Michele Morin recently posted…Martin Luther in His Own WordsMy Profile

  • Reply Sarah Geringer May 25, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Congrats on this guest post, Laura. I relate to the timeline for answers being much longer than I thought. Yet I am growing in trust. Thanks for this encouragement today.

  • Reply Heather Hart May 25, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Laura. I’ve found God rarely answers in the way I expect, but His answers are always just what I need.
    Heather Hart recently posted…Let’s Be Real (we all struggle with something)My Profile

  • Reply Brenda May 25, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Laura, this phrase was affirmation from God for me: “when I waited until He nudged me forward, the path He outlined was smoother and easier to travel.” Thank you. ((hug))
    Brenda recently posted…I See YouMy Profile

  • Reply Lori Schumaker May 25, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Laura,
    A wonderful post. Praying with you as you wait. Praying for healing and praying for your peace in the wait, and that you hear His whispers ♥ Thank you for this powerful reminder!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

  • Reply Lisa May 25, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    “His answer that morning wasn’t the miracle healing I begged for. It was an explanation I could understand.” This phrase spoke to me! Great post! Visiting from Salt &Light Link up! Blessings:)
    Lisa recently posted…Week 2:Joel: It is Time Repent of Your RepentingMy Profile

  • Reply Lesley May 25, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    I agree, it is hard when we see God working in one area of our lives and it seems he isn’t in others. I think often it’s beyond our understanding, but I like the analogy with the oxygen mask.
    Lesley recently posted…Whispers Of RestMy Profile

    • Reply Laura Rath May 28, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      Absolutely, He works in ways I don’t understand…and I am learning to be okay with that. Thank you Lesley.
      Laura Rath recently posted…Jesus in a Changing WorldMy Profile

  • Reply Cassie May 25, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Oh, Laura, yes, yes, and YES! I, too, have struggled with accepting His plan anddd waiting. It’s not that I don’t know that His plan is the best for me and not that I don’t want to follow His plan, it’s just the waiting. Sometimes, we do just have to stop and breathe. Thank you for this. I appreciate (and this may sound slightly awful…?) knowing that others have to be reminded to stop and breathe, too. Makes me realize I’m not alone. Thank you! <3

    • Reply Laura Rath May 28, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      It doesn’t sound awful at all. 😊 I think sometimes we all need the encouragement of knowing that we’re not alone! Thank you Cassie!
      Laura Rath recently posted…Jesus in a Changing WorldMy Profile

  • Reply Donna Reidland May 26, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Love the oxygen mask illustration. It’s so true that we need to stay connected to God if we’re going to be any good to those we love.
    Donna Reidland recently posted…“The Sins of Others & Our Good” May 26My Profile

  • Reply Carlie May 26, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how God sends us His messages in just the way we need to understand? I love this word picture, Laura! I can see it now – just put the oxygen mask on and breathe – leave the flying to me – we’re not going to crash. I got a strong visual reminder recently of a man stuck in mud and the more he wiggled to free himself the further down he sank. It was a clear ‘be still’ moment. As if God was saying to me – stop trying to fix everything just be still and let me be God. Thanks for sharing the encouragement to ‘follow God’s lead. When the time is right, He will make things happen.’ Blessings to you as you wait.
    Carlie recently posted…Are You Missing God’s Big Plan For You?My Profile

    • Reply Laura Rath May 28, 2017 at 10:45 pm

      Thank you Carlie. I’ve thought of that too – the more we struggle, the harder we make it. God bless!
      Laura Rath recently posted…Jesus in a Changing WorldMy Profile

  • Reply Caroline Harries May 26, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    This is beautiful <3 I love how God loves to answer in the most unexpected ways

  • Reply Jill May 28, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Oh Laura-how I can relate! I too had a rough end of ’16/beginning of ’17 and have prayed similar prayers. I also use the oxygen mask example often when encouraging others. It’s so true how we need to just take the next step forward in faith, trusting in His plan and timing! So happy to have stopped by today for this encouragement. Praying God will continue to make His path known for you. Thanks to you and Heather!
    Jill recently posted…Run with JoyMy Profile

  • Reply Ruth @ plantedbylivingwater May 28, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    I love how God spoke to you about the oxygen masks!
    I’ve had God speak to me in pictures as well; I think He knows I remember pictures with an accompanying message better than just the message without a picture.
    Jesus spoke to the people in parables, and the Bible is full of pictures. God has not changed. He is still the same yesterday, today, and forever!

    • Reply Laura Rath May 28, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      Amen and amen!! I do believe God knows how each of us will best hear Him, and when we’re ready to hear Him! And then He comes to us where we are. Thank you Ruth. Have a good week!
      Laura Rath recently posted…Jesus in a Changing WorldMy Profile

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