Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Gift of No

After my dad's recent car accident, I started thinking a lot about answered prayers.  More specifically, about unanswered prayers.  My dad was safe and barely scratched by the grace of God but there are many people who have family members that meet a different fate.  Does that mean God doesn't listen to us?  Does that mean that he loves some of us more than others?  I don't think so.

Like most things that have to do with God, I try to parallel it to my role as a parent.  Let me explain.  When my child asks for something and I say no, it is usually because I understand the repercussions of saying yes.  Maybe it's something simple like, "No, you can't go outside by yourself."  I say this because my oldest isn't quite four and he has no fear of anything bad happening to him.  He talks to everyone he meets, goes into people's houses whenever he's invited (and sometimes when he's not) and haphazardly looks for cars as he runs across the street.  As parents, our minds are always trying to see one step ahead so that we can stand in the way of the harm.  I know he's not ready for me to say, "yes".

They don't like to hear no and they can throw colossal fits when they don't get what they want. They maneuver, negotiate, and rephrase the question all in hopes of getting a yes from me.  But I can't give it to them.  

We are not much different.  We pray and when our prayers are unanswered, we throw an adult version of a temper tantrum.  We say things like, "I am such a good person.  Why is this happening to me?  This is so unfair."  And it seems that way in the moment.  But God must be able to see the ten possibilities that will occur if he does say yes.  Maybe the "no" is a sacred gift in itself that will lead your life to places you had never dreamed of.  Maybe He is answering our prayers in an unexpected way.

The next time I have a prayer that goes unanswered, I will try to think about God as he is - My father.  Even if I can't understand his reasons and I feel angry and abandoned, I will remember that everything He does is out of love.  A love just like the love that I feel for my sweet boys.

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