Have you ever prayed really hard about a decision – perhaps one involving a new job or a new relationship – and you were absolutely certain that God would answer your prayer in a specific way? You would get the job, the guy or girl, the promotion or the recognition for work well done. But you didn’t.
Have you experienced the hope for a love returned only to have it rejected? Or perhaps you were the lead candidate in a job search, but the company picked someone else? How about being nominated for an award or scholarship, but, nope, this wasn’t your lucky day?
A while back my parish priest reminded us that sometimes it is in the moments when God does not answer our prayers exactly the way we expect, greater consolation and grace is truly present. As it says in Jeremiah 29:11, God knows well the plans He has for us, “…plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” Yet, amidst trial and tribulation do we trust that?
For me, it is a great challenge to trust God in those often-painful moments when my prayers are not answered the way I expect them to be. Does He know my pain? Does He know how bad I want this? Does He really get it?
Of course He does. In that moment, however, it can feel like He is miles away.
The other night, a friend told me a story of being in a dark place. He broke up with his girlfriend. He was at the lowest of lows. He reached out to a friend for support and the friend didn’t know what to do. His friend prayed and prayed about it, wanting to help him through the pain. The next week, the friend brought him a stack of books; each carefully selected to help him heal in a specific way. Each book proved precisely what he needed to read.
When my friend reached out for help, he wasn’t asking for a library list. God knew and, through prayer, his friend knew that this was exactly what he needed. Conceivably not what my friend wanted or, more specifically, what he prayed for, but something far greater, something given by God to heal his hurts, something he truly needed.
Countless stories from friends and family members share the same message: I kept asking for ‘A,’ but God knew what I really needed was ‘B.’ And, boy was it frustrating!
Ultimately, “B” brought far greater joy and understanding than what was expected from “A.” God heard their want, but he saw their need. That is the consolation and grace our Heavenly Father provides.
If you make a decision through prayer, with every intention of following God’s will, and trusting that this is something he is calling you to, trust him. If it doesn’t work out the way you envisioned it, trust Him again.
You are a holy man or woman precisely because you trusted Him. You discerned that this is something He wanted you to do, and you took action in hopes of being in greater service of Him.
You applied for that new job. You shared your love with another human being. You went after a new goal that you felt He was calling you toward. There is beauty and profound holiness in the very act of trusting Him with your discernment and your action.
When the answer is “No” and your heart is hurting, be patient. Return to prayer. Put your life in His hands and cry out with resounding confidence, “God, I trust in you. I trust that you know far better than I do what is best for me. I resolve to draw ever closer to you in your Holy Presence in the Eucharist, and in the depth of your mercy in my heart.”
Perhaps the next time He presents you with a “No,” “Not yet,” “Maybe,” or “Just wait,” He is really saying, “Trust me… follow me…For you know not the plans I have for you…” His plans, after all, are far more magnificent than we could ever imagine.
\”When you accept God\’s will in every aspect of your life, you will find God providing you with strength, courage and a dignity that resounds to the heavens. It resounds to the heavens because it doesn\’t have far to go. Heaven, you see, is suddenly in your heart\” – Mother Angelica
© 2013. Autumn Jones. All Rights Reserved.