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Essays on Faith: Your ways are not my ways

Hopeful that God would answer my prayer positively, I recently prayed for something that was very important to me. But, to my surprise and disappointment, the answer was, “No.” After whining and complaining for a few days, I knew I had to talk it over with God.

“Lord, I do everything you ask of me,” I said. “I continually show my gratitude for everything You do for me and my family. Why will you not grant me this one special thing? I don’t understand.”

“Think about it,” replied the still, small voice. So I thought about it. It took quite a while for me to analyze everything I’d said and done regarding my prayers but I finally realized I’d been too hasty. I didn’t take into consideration that my wishes must align with God’s will. I’d temporarily lost sight of a Bible verse I’d known since childhood:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

Weeks ago, when I first started dropping little hints that I was looking forward to His granting this important request, there was a little nagging doubt in the pit of my stomach. I tried to push it aside, telling myself that God would indeed answer my prayer because He always does. But no matter how much I prayed, the seeds of doubt continued to grow, and I feared this was one request that would not be granted — at least not at this time.

But that didn’t stop me. I prayed right up until the final minute — and even after — just in case there was a mistake and things would go my way after all. But I finally had to acknowledge that God apparently didn’t agree with my plan and that He most likely had a better one. In the end, I realized I’d just have to wait for His timing.

So now that it’s clear to me that I must accept His will, not mine, how do I do it with a smile on my face and a happy heart? How do I cope with the frustration and anguish I feel at losing something I so desperately wanted?

One of the Godliest men I ever knew once told me: “God answers every prayer, but sometimes, the answer is no.” I was very young when I heard that truism, but I never forgot it and taught it to my children, who are now passing it on to theirs.

When the answer is no, our inclination is sometimes to withdraw from the world, but we must not do that. We must continue to build friendships. God often ministers to our hurts through other people. It can be tempting to put up walls when we’re feeling vulnerable, but if we shut out friends, we could be sealing off healing and hope.

Second, we must go deeper with God. He has promised to never desert us. He said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We must trust Him. God is our source of strength. It is through Him that we are able to forgive those who disappoint us. It is through Him that we are able to not respond in kind. It is through Him that we are able to find healing for our broken hearts.

When God takes something from our grasp, He’s not punishing us, but merely opening our hands to receive something better. Knowing that some answered prayers would be bad for us, God protects us from things that we do not understand now, but someday will.

In James 4:2-3, we learn why we sometimes don’t get what we pray for:

“You don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong — you want only what will give you pleasure.”

Sometimes we pray with entirely wrong purposes. Why should we expect God to give us what we ask for when we ask from a wrong heart? We may even be praying for something God would be delighted to give us, except He’s more concerned about our long-term well-being than He is our immediate gratification. Seeing all things, perhaps He knows when we are about to make a bad decision and wants to help us avoid it.

Never question when you don’t hear from God immediately. It’s very important to go on with your life cheerfully, as if you had already received your request. God wants us to pay in praises before we receive HIs promises.

Whatever your circumstances, rest assured that God has a purpose for everything He does. He may even have something exciting in store for you.

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro.

Essays on Faith may be submitted to gazette@wvgazettemail.com.

Find more Essays on Faith at www.wvgazettemail.com/life/religion.

Funerals for Friday, September 20, 2019

Barton, Richard - 3 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Birthisel, Avis - 11 a.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Call, Denver - Noon, Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Dearien, Tommie - Noon, Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Fletcher, Joanna - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keeney, Steven - 2 p.m., Keith Full Gospel Church, Keith.

May, Rosa - 2 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Morris, Linda - 1 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Parsons, Harry - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary Inc., Glenville.

Pauley, Clarence - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Pino, Patricia - 11 a.m., Bradley FreeWill Baptist Church.

Rogers, Marilyn - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, South Charleston.

Satterfield, Kenneth - 5 p.m., Satterfield residence, 1161 Daniels Run Road, Millstone.