It’s all too easy for us to think that God isn’t listening, or doesn’t respond to our prayers, when the answer is right in front of us. Unfortunately – for our expectations anyway – it doesn’t look like what we expected it to, or wanted it to, so we don’t even see it.
I know I, all too often, have very specific ideas of what I want from God, and if I don’t get exactly that, I tend to think He didn’t answer my prayer. Now, specificity is a good thing, and God wants us to be specific rather than vague when we place our concerns before Him. The problem isn’t with being specific, but rather with limiting our expectations to only one possible answer. If we don’t get that answer, we got no answer at all – or so we tend to think. It’s very hard for us, either because we want control or simply our American instant-gratification mind set, to accept that sometimes the answer might be “no”. Or perhaps its “wait a while”. We, or at least I, find it very easy to interpret “wait a while” as “no”, even though it isn’t. Or maybe the better, more beneficial or fulfilling answer looks a little different from the specific version we asked for. Rather like wanting a specific shade of bag or shoe only to realize that a different shade actually matches or contrasts more attractively with the outfit, but we hadn’t seen that beforehand.
God sees the big picture, while we only see what is right in front of us, and even then sometimes our focus is a bit fuzzy. One of my favorite images of how different our perspective is from God’s is that of a weaving or piece of needlework. We see the back side, and we might see a bit of the pattern, but we often see more knots and tangles and confusing patches of color, but God sees the front, and even more, He knows the pattern even before it is woven or stitched.
Father God, forgive me for being so focused on my own expectations that I miss the evidence of Your activity all around me. Help me to see with Your eyes, and recognize Your many acts of grace, mercy, and generosity that impact my life constantly. Especially when an answer to prayer isn’t exactly what I was expecting or hoping for, help me to see it as the answer I needed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.