Have you ever prayed about something for years and not gotten the answer you've wanted? Have you put all your trust in God and seen few results (at least not the ones you were looking for)? Do you, like me, often ask God, "Why can't it be easy, just this once?"
I admit I am jealous of people who pray for something for a short time and get the miraculous answer they're looking for. I try really hard to be happy for them, I do. But there's always so much I don't understand.
For instance, a woman in my Bible study group asked for prayer for her brother-in-law diagnosed with lung cancer. We prayed (along with many others, I'm sure) and he responded very well to treatment. The SAME Bible study group prayed for my own father with the SAME diagnosis and he only lived a few months. Why? What made the difference?
My husband and I have wanted to get rid of a rental house for seven years. This week, relatives of ours had a yen to sell their home and had it done before the sign made it in the yard. Why is it so easy for some people? No, that's not my real question. What I really want to know is, "God, why can't it be easy for me?"
Why does life have to be so hard? Why do I have to be the patient one? Why do thoughts continually run through my mind trying to figure everything out? Why do I have to feel everything so deeply? Why must I always wait on the Lord? The only answer I ever get is, "TRUST ME."
I must acknowledge I do see some progress in myself. I must have learned something having to wait on God. I don't sweat it like I used to when our renters are late in paying. When an unexpected car repair costs more than its original purchase price I think, "Okay, God, You're going to have to take care of that one," and don't lose any sleep over it. I rejoice over the deteriorating nature of my couch because I know God promises to meet my NEEDS. A new couch will soon be a NEED. See? Progress. Looking back, would I want things to have been easy and never grown? Mmmm. . .I don't think so.
This summer we saw the movie Click. It's about a man who obtains a remote which controls his life. He discovers he can fast forward through the tough stuff, the arguments, the mundane, the annoying. But as he gets in the habit of fast forwarding through these, he notices his life flashing before him. By the end of his life he realizes he has missed it all by avoiding what is hard. It was a good illustration that taking away the lows takes away our highs. We rejoice more when the road has been difficult than when it is smooth sailing. Just as I have greater joy in watching one of my kids conquer a fear than seeing them maintain, God delights in seeing us overcome. Our hard times give us reason to celebrate later.
And there is reward in getting through the tough stuff. I am stronger, wiser, more trusting. Every time I have to do something the "hard" way, I gain more confidence that God is my security net. There is no replacement for that kind of peace. It is a gift, albeit hard won. We are in training, people. It doesn't always feel good at the time, but it will be of tremendous benefit later.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11)
I can't honestly say I'd ask for the tough stuff, but I won't bemoan it either. God knows what's best for me. He knows what will bring me the most good. I have to trust Him and do my best to trudge through the valleys. Who knows what might be on the other side?