"I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties"

Hi friends,

Here’s a very popular view of how God answers prayers:

I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.

I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.

I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.

My prayers were answered.

How would you analyze this perspective?

What parts of it align with God’s word? And what context, if any, do you think is missing?


I’ve heard this sort of thing many times in various forms. I have found this sort of thing quite encouraging, in that it helps me see that God uses our circumstances to change our characters. If we look at it from this perspective, it’s partly in line with Romans 5:3-4

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us

God does deeply care about our characters, and his purpose is to shape us from one degree of glory to the next. Challenging events and difficult relationships may be part of this shaping in our lives. This is a positive message that some people may derive from the popular view you shared.

There’s also a great flaw in this type of thing, in that it teaches that all our problems and difficulties are directly sent to us from God. I think the danger in this, is firstly that it misses a great opportunity to teach the idea of Biblical suffering: that there is suffering in this world due to our sin, or sin of others. Secondly, it can misrepresent the character of God, the danger being that many might miss the character lesson that I outlined above, and instead focus on the ‘moral monster’ that torments them. This is more of a risk if this type of concept was given to someone deeply hurting from a traumatic circumstance.

Overall, I think it’s the sort of popular view that can feel nice, but misses the depth and breadth of who God is, and especially His love for us. It misses the point of the suffering that Jesus went through for us - he had dangers and troubled people about him - but he wasn’t needing a character change. He was demonstrating who God was through the circumstances. I think it could touch on being ‘me-centred’ because of this.

It would be interesting to hear if anyone else reading this has heard this sort of thing before, and how they felt when they heard it. :slightly_smiling_face:


It’s a very moving video and a powerful quote.

What I like about this saying is that it speaks to our agency and purpose!

Instead of seeing difficulties, problems, dangers, and troubled people as negatives, it reframes these common experiences as opportunities to become strong, wise, courageous, and loving.

As I read the Gospels, this is how Jesus appears to have approached various challenges. We read in Luke 2:52,

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.

We are to imitate Jesus’ example, so we also should look to grow in our character as we love God and others.

At the same time, I think there’s another angle to this quote.

After all, life already has enough trouble, I don’t know if God will send us more!

So, seriously, I would put these ideas like this:

I asked for strength to handle my difficulties, and God gave me strength because he loves me.

I asked for wisdom to handle my problems, and God gave me wisdom because he loves me.

I asked for courage to overcome dangers, and God gave me courage because he loves me.

I asked for love to help troubled people, and God gave me love because he loves me.

I admit that’s not as eloquent, but I think it’s more accurate!

For instance, Psalm 46:1 reads, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Do we have troubles? Yes! Do we need more trouble to get strong? Not necessarily.

But what we do need is God. And God IS our refuge and strength to help us through our problems.

Likewise, James 1:5-8 says,

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, being double-minded and unstable in all his ways.

We have complicated problems beyond our understanding! Does God want to help us? Absolutely - generously and happily.

But we aren’t supposed to ask God for wisdom and then get a second opinion. If we are going to God, we need to humbly accept the wisdom of his word. (That doesn’t mean the first idea that pops into our head is right!)

Wisdom isn’t about handling problems so much as it is navigating life with God, according to God’s standards, so that we are living in light of eternity.

I would say that God gives us MORE, not less, than what this quote offers to us.

The best answer to prayer is to enjoy friendship with God, to know God is with us, to have the power of the Holy Spirit strengthening us, and to know that as God’s beloved friends, we can find a way to love God and love others in whatever situation we’re in.

Ok, that’s my two cents. I’m curious to hear other thoughts on this quote!


I think the general meaning of the quote is this- God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the exact way we want, but he still answers them.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Even if God doesn’t send them, he can still use them for our good, but I do think that this quots seems to insinuate they are directly from God and not the sin of the world.

I think this is certainly more accurate, but it sort of twists the meaning of the poem. If God always just gave us what we wanted, how would that go for us?
I think the idea of the quote is good, that we can’t expect God to answer our prayers how we want them to be answered, but I also think it is missing the part about God’s love. If I had to change the quote, this is what I would do:

I asked for strength and God held me close through difficulties and gave me peace.
I asked for wisdom and God showed me how to follow his will even through problems.
I asked for courage to overcome danger and God helped me stand strong in him.
I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help because he loves me and he loves them.
My prayers were answered by God’s love.

It’s certainly longer, and there are some parts I don’t think are the greatest, but I think it shows his love a bit more.

I think the missing part is God’s involvement after. He doesn’t just dump problems and difficulties on us and leave. He stays, guides us through, and shows his love, all for us :slightly_smiling_face:


I love how @alison, @Carson and @maylana have all highlighted in different ways how we need God in the midst of our difficulties, something missing in the quote.

But why does this quote seem to miss this God aspect? The answer seems to lie in its origins. As the quote is so popular, I searched for the origins of the quote to know what the original author may have meant. I found out that it’s a quote by Universal Sufism teacher, Hazrat Inayat Khan.

I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to learn to solve.
I asked for prosperity and God gave me a brain and brawn to work.
I asked for courage and God gave me dangers to overcome.
I asked for love and God gave me people to help.
I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted. I received everything I needed.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist

Khan also believed that the solution to all problems is the awakening of the consciousness of humanity to the divinity within. With this core belief in the background, what he may have meant by the quote is that instead of seeking answers to our problems outside ourselves, all we need to do is look inwards and come to self-realization of divinity within.

This stands in stark contrast to Christian teachings and is more in line with new age teachings. In an article, The New Age Worldview: Is it Believable? Douglas Groothuis writes –

The Jesus of history never called people to find the divine within themselves or to create their own reality. Instead, He called people to repent, to turn from their vain attempt to be lords of their own reality, and to turn toward Him as the only Lord of life. He came to save us from ourselves and from losing our souls: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

This new life received by faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us is not available through our own resources (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:5-6)

Not recognizing the original source of the quote, unfortunately some Christians have tried to apply this Sufi quote to the God of the Bible to understand how God answers prayers.

So, what does the Bible have to say about how God answers our prayers for strength, wisdom, courage and love? What does it say about trials? As already noted by others, God may send trials in our life to test our faith and strengthen our character (1 Peter 1:7). Per the Bible, due to our sinful nature that has come down from Adam, our natural desire is to live independently of God, but some hardships have a way of helping us reach the end of our own strength and resources. As a result, when God brings such hardships in our lives, we can go from trusting our own strength to trusting God’s provision and grace. When we try to meet our needs in our own strength, life often becomes stressful but when we take our needs to God, we gain a peace that surpasses understanding (Phil 4:4-7) and God not only provides for our needs but helps us experience his loving presence (2 Cor 12:8-10). Through his loving presence in our lives, we find everything we need, strength, wisdom, courage and love! (2 Tim 1:7). God does not promise to take away all our hardships in this world, probably to protect us from our own pride, but he does promise to be with us in all our trials (John 16:33, Isaiah 41:10).

To conclude then, we can safely make requests to God for wisdom, strength, courage and love in the midst of our trials and not have to fear that God will respond with more trials. Instead, we can gladly have confidence that God is with us in all our troubles.


Thank you @lakshmi I think this is an important point to underscore. This Sufi teaching could actually lead people to fear asking God for these qualities in case more trouble came. God is lavish in His grace and love, and we also know that when a person is actively following Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, they are infilled by the Holy Spirit. And what is the outworking of the Spirit’s work in our lives? Galatians 5:22-23 makes it clear that when our lives are in step with Jesus, we will grow in

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We need not fear an obstacle course sent by God in order to grow in these things. He’s not a Trickster setting us up for difficulty in order for us to discover these qualities within us. As James says about wisdom (but which could apply just as well to love, joy etc)

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God - who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly - and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).

The only requisite is that our faith is completely in Christ.


Hi @lakshmi, that is fascinating!

Your search for the source of the quote is a good example for me to remember. The quote sounds so similar to Christian teaching that I assumed it was from a pastor or a Christian devotional book! But, as noted earlier, I didn’t think it lined up with the Bible very well.

It’s so interesting to hear your conclusion. I had missed how this quote, though it sounds encouraging, could actually generate fear that God will make our lives harder in order to teach us a lesson!

I am grateful for your wise comments on this popular quote.


Thanks both for your comments. I think its important to have a proper understanding of what God desires of us when he sends trials. Is his intention to discover our inner potential or is his intention for us to learn to depend on his grace? Even as a Christian, I think we can hold beliefs similar to the Sufi quote and act accordingly. In doing so, when we find our skills/resources inadequate for the situation we can deal with fear and when we find ourselves adequate we may deal with pride. But God’s desire is for us to depend on him, so that we neither fear nor boast but simply act by God’s grace and bring him glory as Paul does in 1 Cor 15:10.

I agree. I too think I heard it before as part of a Christian sermon at some church, but I cant recollect where. To me it evokes a feeling that God is going to just stand by and watch me struggle though I need his help. It gives an incorrect picture of who God is and can make it difficult to turn to him for help in prayer.