Sunday, May 22, 2011

God Doesn't Always Say Yes

There are a LOT of people in this world who treat God like He's a magic pez dispenser: pull the lever and you get the candy every time. They treat God like He's a mathematical formula: plug in x and get y every time. They treat God like He's a Big Sugar Daddy in the Sky: doling out the goodies to every person who does what He wants them to. They ignore the fact that God is a being of infinite knowledge and wisdom. They ignore the fact that God loves us and so, sometimes, He says no. We ask and He says no because what we ask for isn't what we really need or because what we ask for is something we aren't ready for yet, or even because what we ask for is a reflex response to some hurt or disappointment in our lives and He knows we don't really mean it.

I have plenty of examples. I used to pray constantly that just this one time God might let me win the lottery. This was, of course, during moments of financial hardship when I was afraid of what was coming and couldn't see any way out of it. He didn't let me win the lottery, and because I did't win I was forced to fix my marriage instead of seeking a divorce. He didn't let me win the lottery and I was forced to stay in Texas instead of moving away from my mother until my faith was strong enough it could survive without her. He didn't let me win the lottery and I was forced to learn to manage my money better. He didn't let me win the lottery and so I learned to turn to Him for help instead of wasting money on a lottery ticket. He didn't let me win the lottery and so I had to give up my pride and became humble instead. Yes, I thank God that prayer didn't get me what I wanted but what I really needed instead.

God has answered yes to me many times. Sometimes He had to work on me first, to prepare me to deal with the unforseen consequences of my prayer, but when He has answered yes it has always been worth the wait. Examples of that are the conversion of my husband and son, the reconciliation with my brother, and so many other things. Sometimes He answered me without delay, giving me a response so swift that it stunned me.

The point of this is that God does answer prayer, but He answers it with an overhead view of how it will impact not only your life but the lives of every man, woman, and child throughout time. If He doesn't say yes, it is not because He hasn't heard you. No, after all, is just as much an answer as yes. It is because He knows you and He knows far better than you do what you really need.

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