At some point in the coming week almost everyone will take a moment to reflect on what they are thankful for. And, it doesn’t matter whether in that moment you pray to God, Buddha, Allah, some other spiritual being, the fates, Lady Luck or Tinkerbell. Somehow Thanksgiving Day just seems the appropriate time to “touch base” with our choice of a higher power.
But this Thanksgiving, I decided to be different. I’m going to be thankful for what I don’t have. Garth Brooks, the country singer, co-wrote a song with the phrase, “one of God’s greatest gifts is unanswered prayers”. It is so true. Have you ever stopped to think about how unanswered requests to “whomever” have developed your life? I have.
Like the time I was 13. I had just been told that my grandmother died. I have never felt such blinding pain or heartache in the 40 years since. While trying to comprehend this enormous loss, I prayed that God would take someone else close to me and bring my grandma back. It was many, many years later that I was able to deal with the guilt from this request and be appreciative that God didn’t answer.
When I was in my early 20’s I thought I was so in love I couldn’t see straight. Unfortunately it was pretty one-sided. But I was desperate for the relationship to work and prayed fervently for him to fall madly in love with me. I’m grateful I didn’t have to wait years to feel good about God not answering that one!
In my 30’s I asked for help with so many things, it’s a wonder that I didn’t get a busy signal whenever I prayed! I was frustrated and angry that my life wasn’t taking the turns I thought it should, when I thought it should. God eventually did answer my prayers for marriage and a family, but years after I had wished for it, and only when I was willing to make that the focus of my life. In hindsight, the waiting was the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Now as I sit – trying to compose this essay while yelling at the 15-year old to get off Facebook and finish his homework and telling the 17-year old that “Yes, I will proof your college essay for the 84th time.” and “How can your car need gas already?” – you can believe me when I say I am very thankful He didn’t listen when I asked for four kids before I was 40!
I bet if you, too, think back over things that you felt frantic for, prayed for and didn’t get a response to, you would be surprised to find out that your life worked out better because of it. Instead of giving up on your faith because a prayer or request went unanswered, just remember what Garth says,
“Just because He doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean He doesn’t care.”
In fact, that higher power probably cares a lot more than you even imagine. Enough to make sure a deaf ear is turned whenever we stray from our life’s path with an unanswerable request.
Have a warm, wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.
Question: How has an unanswered prayer changed your life?