I prayed for something specific and God didn’t answer that prayer.
At least—not how I wanted him to answer it, and not in the timeframe I had hoped.
I’m still asking, actually (it’s been a loooong while, like a few years long). But I’m learning to pray, “Your will be done, Lord,” while still asking in faith, knowing that He can very well answer this prayer in the affirmative.
It’s funny, because I specifically remember when I started praying for this thing. Two weeks later, my prayer remained unanswered, but it was clear that God had gifted me with something else—something completely unexpected, something I hadn’t even asked for.
I felt the tinge of disappointment, not because of these friends (!) but because God had thought it better to withhold what I had asked for. But then I looked at the faces of these unexpected people in my life and I couldn’t help but feel immense gratitude.
It’s as though God was asking me to accept this gift as enough in place of what I had asked for. Not forever, maybe, but for that moment.
These friendships deepened and I found out that one friend in specific was going through a really hard time. She needed support. She needed prayer. She needed a listening ear.
Over the next few months, I became one of those people in her life. I prayed for her, checked in on her, and listened to her.
And at some point it hit me: I had asked for something else entirely and God gifted me with this beautiful friendship instead. And you know what, in giving me something I hadn’t asked for, I found out something greater.
This gift wasn’t actually about me after all.
God withheld what I wanted, making room in my life for what someone else needed.
And in that moment of realization I was overwhelmed with gratitude that God would see fit to override my wants in place of someone else’s needs. To think, He would use a person like me to bring life and joy and support to someone else?
Friends, may our gratitude no longer hinge on answered prayers.
May we recognize that God sees the big picture of reality and even then he cares about the good of you and I. May we trust our sovereign Lord—in the "yeses," in the "nos," and in the answers that look something like... "surprise! I’m going to use you for the good of someone you love (or maybe, the good of someone you don’t even know...or the good of someone you don’t particularly like). It’s going to be beautiful. Just you wait."