Since we humans were created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27), there are many parallels between us and God. One such parallel is how God and humans work. When work has to be done, we humans either do the work ourselves or instruct another person to do the work. God is no different. When God wants something to happen, he can do the work directly through miracles (Ex 24:12) or he can instruct his creation (angels, saints, and humans on earth) to do the work (Ex 3:2 for angels, Phil 2: 12-13 for humans). This truth has a few implications for Catholics.
When asking for help from God in our prayers, don’t be surprised if help comes in a different way than expected. Here the Catholic has some need they want God to address. Maybe they prayed for healing but no healing came. It’s possible God is going to work through a doctor, so God’s answer to the prayer is to see a doctor. Maybe another time they need comfort after a death in the family. It’s possible God is seeking to help them through their friends and family. In these moments it can feel like God is not helping, like he doesn’t care about our problems. God is actually helping; he is just choosing to help through our fellow humans.
Another case is when asking for guidance of what to do with our gifts. A Catholic might pray and pray for choosing how to serve in their community or which of their skills to foster and grow in. God could, of course, give them a straight answer in their heart or mind, but many times he will work through our fellow humans. Maybe the person sees an ad in the parish bulletin for a service opportunity, or maybe someone they’re talking to happens to mention a need they can help with. God has answered their prayer through one of his children.
The unfortunate side of the way God works is that it is hard to tell how God is working in our lives. We can get the feeling that humans are the ones doing everything, and God is not present. This is dangerous thinking. Satan has lured many Catholics away by encouraging doubt in their minds (CCC 215). Whenever you feel discouraged, always remember that the source of all love is God. Whether your prayers are answered directly by God or by someone here on this earth, it ultimately came from God. In this way, you can attribute everything to God and always maintain strength in your faith.
One last point is that God does not have to work. He could answer a prayer request with a simple “no”. Sometimes it is best if we find our own solution to a problem. He has given humans great intellect (CCC 286, 1955), with the ability to learn new things, precisely for this purpose. In these times we might feel all alone, but there is a very good reason that God sometimes decides to just watch from afar. We will not become saints automatically. Our faith must be continually tested to grow in holiness and open the path to sainthood (Jas 1:2-4).
If God solved all our problems, we would never have to face difficulty, never grow in holiness, never become saints, and worst of all, never be with God in heaven. For heaven to be an option, we must face obstacles and overcome them. Each time you make it through a tough situation, you become stronger in the faith. After enough struggles, you will have reached the point where you salvation is secured (2 Tim 4:6-8). God has won you over for all eternity. Having this on your mind during the struggles in life will provide continual relief. No matter how bad this time is, keep up the good work because you are inching toward eternal paradise.
May God bless you with his abundant grace,