There’s a certain aspect of my future that I had always assumed would play out in a generally pleasing way. All signs pointed in that direction. But a week or so ago I got news that could significantly alter that happy dream. And the wind went completely out of my sails.
It was hard for me to pray about my disappointment at first. I knew I needed to, though, so I asked a friend to pray with me. We soon discerned that the reason it was hard for me to pray was because I was angry with God. Deep inside, I felt as if He’d already allowed me to experience enough suffering—in my not-so-humble opinion, I didn’t need this on top of everything else.
I hadn’t realized how upset with Him I was—I’m usually pretty good at stuffing my anger. But when I finally admitted it to myself, then actually said it out loud to Him—with my friend also hearing my confession—my anger evaporated. That’s usually the way it goes when I am upset with God. He always wins, of course, but He allows me to pour out my hurt, and He graciously listens and understands.
But we weren’t done yet. After I’d given up my anger and my heart was calmer, God gently asked me to give up my dream as well.
That was even harder. I had been more invested in that dream than I realized, and releasing it was really painful. But I finally opened my hands, gave the dream to God, and cried myself out. After a while, my friend quietly asked, Abba, what do You want to give Cynthia instead?
I wasn’t expecting that. I was just thinking that the Lord gives and takes away. I hadn’t really expected Him to give me anything to replace what I’d had to give up.
I was curious, though, so I listened to what He might have to say. As I listened, I think I heard Him explain to me that my dream had sprung from a desire that He Himself had planted in me. It was a good and godly desire, He assured me. It’s just that I had assumed that He would meet that desire in a specific way. That may or may not happen. But the desire is still good, and He wants to meet it—at least that’s what He seemed to say.
As I pondered this, new ideas came into my head. New ways of thinking, new things to pursue. Gradually hope came back to my heart and wind flowed back into my sails.
God has more than one way of answering our prayers, and more than one way of fulfilling the longings that He Himself has given us. But it wasn’t until I’d given Him my scenarios for meeting that desire that I was able to see other possibilities.
Have you ever had to give up your ideas of how God should answer your prayers so that He could meet your longings in His even better way? I’d love to hear about it!