unanswered prayers

When God Answers with an Oxygen Mask

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

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

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 answers

I 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.

His answer that morning wasn’t the miracle healing I begged for, but was an explanation I could understand. Click To Tweet

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.

Follow God’s lead. When the time is right, He will make things happen. Click To Tweet


  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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))

  13. 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,

  14. “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:)

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

    1. 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!

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