When God’s Answer is “No”

My son isn’t coming home. At least, he’s not coming home in the foreseeable future. My heart is broken. The back of my throat knots up and it becomes hard to swallow and even breathe; tears randomly pool up in my eyes and roll down my cheek.

I really believed that Heavenly Father would answer our prayers, and those of our friends who prayed on our behalf. My husband, Kev, was convinced Cory would be released, and had begun to set his room in order in anticipation of his return.

For those who do not know, here are the stats: Cory was stopped for speeding and the police officer found pot in his car. The charges were ultimately dismissed, but because Cory did not show up for his court appearances, he was arrested and given 2-years in county jail. Three months into his time, the guards tossed his cell and found a shank made by another inmate. For this, Cory was given an additional 6-year sentence and moved to state prison. He has served 4 years of the time. This was the second time he was up for parole and it was denied.

There is a part of me that is so angry at the injustice that I want to scream and yell and break something—which, I know, would not really be helpful. I feel such rage inside; that I cannot fix this or change this outcome.

I know that Heavenly Father could have given us this blessing; that Cory received parole and came home. But He sees something I cannot and so His answer is “no,” or maybe the better term is “not yet.”Sometimes when a prayer appears to go unanswered, it is because it is being answered in a greater way than we can perceive. Gene R. Cook

Elder Gene R. Cook said:

“Sometimes when a prayer appears to go unanswered, it is because it is being answered in a greater way than we can perceive. When we face these trials, we must double our faith lest we lose it.” (New Era, Oct 1982, 4)

The prophet Alma writes,

“And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; . . . asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive” (Alma 7:23).

I am grateful that Cory’s heart is not broken like mine is. I am grateful that Heavenly Father has given Cory comfort and assurance that he has not been abandoned and that his prayers are still heard. Cory was so calm when he called to tell us. He said, “I have been knocked down so many times in my life. I cannot let this be the time I don’t get back up.” I am grateful for the growth of his testimony and his strength.

Elder Russell M. Nelson said:

“I recognize that, on occasion, some of our most fervent prayers may seem to go unanswered. We wonder, ‘Why?’ I know that feeling! I know the fears and tears of such moments. But I also know that our prayers are never ignored. Our faith is never unappreciated. I know that an all-wise Heavenly Father’s perspective is much broader than is ours. While we know of our mortal problems and pain, He knows of our immortal progress and potential” (Ensign, Nov. 2005, 86).

I cannot control this situation, but I can control my attitude toward it. I can show faith and trust in my Heavenly Father, who knows me (and Cory) better than I know myself.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The same is true with the Second Coming and with all those matters wherein our faith needs to include faith in the Lord’s timing for us personally, not just in His overall plans and purposes.” (Even As I Am (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 93.) The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? Elder Neal A. Maxwell


The thing is: God did not say “no” to Cory ever getting out and coming home. He said “no” to his coming home right now. I hope when the time comes for Cory’s release that we will look back and see the why. But, if we never understand why he was not released at this time, I can still trust that Heavenly Father sees a bigger plan. Because one of the things I know for sure is: God loves His children.

One of my favorite scriptures talks about this. An angel asked Nephi, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” Nephi’s response is a powerful lesson. He answers with something he knows for sure and with something he does not: “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless I do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:16-17).

I love this scripture because it reminds me that I do not have to know why Heavenly Father did not answer my pleading for a blessing or why things happen a certain way, because I can hold on to the fact that I know that He loves me. One day, He will set things in order and those who trusted in Him will be blessed with eternal life. That’s something Nephi knew for sure and I do too.

The youngest son in a family I love was driving home from the gym one night this week, when another driver ran a red light, hit and killed him. He was just a few months shy of leaving to serve a 2-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Mexico.

When we adopted Cory, this family and another friend hosted a party to celebrate our finally getting a child. Today, my tears and heavy heart are for this generous and kind family’s loss. It certainly puts my own earlier sadness in perspective.

My friend and I are now both waiting to see our sons again. She will have a much longer wait, until she is reunited with her son.

Why didn’t Heavenly Father preserve the life of her son who was about to leave on a mission? Why didn’t He allow Cory to come home now? I don’t know, but I do know that Heavenly Father loves us. That is what I hold on to.

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).

This is a tender promise. The act of wiping away someone’s tears is an intimate and personal gesture. That is the promise from our Savior, Jesus Christ.

My tears will dry. Cory will come home. God will make everything right. I don’t have to know how or when; only that He will. For now, that is enough.

Everyone gets knocked down in life. Those who trust in God, have the strength to get back up. Tanja Crouch


When has God answered your pleas with “no” or “not now”?


  1. Tanja,
    We both got “no” answers! I do believe and have faith that our Heavenly Father’s work which is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of his children will take place. Only he knows what Cory needs. He has the whole picture, and wants Cory back as much or more than we do!

  2. I read this out-loud to Jim and we were both sad for you together. : ( I didn’t know any of this when I saw you at church. I’m so sorry. You testimony and faith help to keep me going with my challenges. Cory is a beautiful example of not letting life keep him down! You, too!!

  3. Thank you for inspiring other. Your articles lifted my soul to continue & have more faith. I felt so down last night that part of me wanted to rebel. I wrestled with this ill feeling instead I decided to retaliate back with kindness & love. I know it will be hard because no matter how selfless I try to be, sometimes, i feel do unappreciated & ignored. I prayed last night for strength & for help. This morning I saw your story featured in “Upworthy” & I got curious. I am glad I found time to read it & to explore your website. You are doing good to your fellowmen. Thank you for the inspiration. I feel re-charge again.

  4. hi. I found your blog through the upworthy feature. I will be praying for your family! My dad AND my husband were both adopted, and my sister just adopted a 17 year old boy through the foster system. I love how clear your faith in. God is at the helm. Your examples from the Book of Mormon are so strengthening. I love the Book of Mormon.

  5. Hi- I saw the article about you and your son on Upworthy. First, I want to say how wonderful it is that you took a child who was so much older, even knowing that it might be so much more difficult. Second-I know how hard it is to have someone you love unconditionally be placed in prison and the fear and crushing sadness and I will pray for strength and peace for you. Third-I want to just share something I know. This may not be Corys story but in case it is, maybe something I say could help. Someone I love was sent to prison for a period of time that did not match his crime and the injustice of it broke my heart. How is it that you get sentenced to 2 years for something non-violent or not even that bad but murderers walk free? Either way, it happened. When he was released, at first, he was so happy and positive about life but as time went on, he became so depressed about how hard it was to find a job…how badly people judged him for being in prison without even knowing his story and just how much more difficult life had become. I didn’t realize Any of this until after the fact and too late. He ended up back in prison because he just didn’t know how to live on the outside. I don’t know Cory but I don’t want that to happen to him. There are programs out there specifically designed to help with the transition so that his life can always be a positive forward movement and not held down by the mistakes of his past. We all make mistakes, some just end up paying more (or way too much) for them but our mistakes do not define us and should not define our future. I will pray for your family.

  6. I know how hard it is. I know. Someone told me when my Son was in prison to pray that God would let him out when God saw that it was the right time. So with not much faith, and with great fear, I began to pray for Gods timing not mine. And with just weeks to go before release they added another charge and 15 more months. In that time he went to “the hole” for 9 months and I was sure God had made a horrible mistake. If you talk to my Son today, with almost 5 years of walking free, he’d tell you that it was that added time, and being in “the hole” that has helped put him where he is today. And he is in a good spot. A very good spot. God Bless You. You are in my heart and prayers

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