God is not like us.
God does not answer prayer the way we would like Him to answer it.
God does not work in us the way we perceive He would work in us.
God glorifies Himself in ways we would not think to glorify Him.
And because we are finite, little beings, we immediately assume we understand God, or we know better than God, or we can read God and prepare ourselves for His will.
We say to ourselves (because we know better than to say so aloud), “Well, I have read such and such in the Bible, and, based on that, I think I know how He will act.”
Or, “According to God’s own word, I can know God’s revealed will. Therefore, my reading the Bible should prepare me for all His workings and all His actions.”
Silly human mind and your assumptions.
Because although, based on past experience and based on many scenarios in the Bible, answered prayer should look like receiving what I ask for in faith and humility.
It should look like a successful church plant in Youngstown.
It should look like growing with this small church family of Youngstown until I’m old and gray.
It should look like filling a rather obnoxiously large house with babies, many of which would be my own.
It should look like earning extra income through a respectable, albeit unexpected, job as a billing clerk.
But it doesn’t. Not this time. Not for me.
And for the past few weeks, I couldn’t recognize it as answered prayer. I didn’t see it as an inconceivable grace, inconceivable to my finite, silly, human, little mind.
But my current state is God’s answer to my prayers. It’s not what I expected. It’s not what I wanted. And it hurts deeply, prompting stinging tears at the mere thought.
It looks like the hope of a church plant in Youngstown wound down, stopped abruptly by many factors, left by the side of life’s road like a broken-down car waiting to be jumped. But I sigh relief, because the past few weeks have left me unenthused by the vision for a church plant and realizing I never felt called to be a part of one.
It looks like our dear friends and the pastor of our church stepping down from ministry, his family’s future unknown and their sweet, passionate hearts aching under the strain of gossip and verbal jabs. But I cry, not because the church plant mission is kaput or the little congregation is now dispersing, but because my own heart breaks for my friends and the hardships their souls have endured here.
It looks like test results relayed by my midwife in sympathetic tones, telling me how small the chances are of Mister and I having children, the one thing I’ve desired for over a year. But I can carry on, because the envious, idolatrous desire no longer exists and I am oddly happy not to smell like dirty diapers for eighteen years.
It looks like wondering if we should sell the big old house we loved, because two people in a big house is unreasonable. But I look around my home, the one I thought I’d grow old in, and shrug at Mister and say, “Where to next?”
It looks like losing my job in the midst of everything, the only reason being I “wasn’t a good fit”. But I am able to laugh incredulously and begin another job search, because temps lose jobs, and I was a temp.
God didn’t give me anything I wanted.
He changed what I wanted.
And He did so in the weeks prior to experiencing four or five life changes within a week’s time.
I’m not invincible. I have dropped into an armchair and cried at my dog several times. I have cried in public, a huge no-no for me, and done so without shame. I have bawled at the drop of a hat, while pouring myself some tea, simply because I pondered the past week’s happenings.
I am weak and frail and emotionally drawn thin.
But in this weak, frail, and emotionally compromised state, God’s powerful, steadfast, redeeming will is made known.
He changed my desires, quickly, and I screeched and lumbered into a 180 about as gracefully as a freight train switches directions without slowing down.
He did it for my good, with me in mind, so that when I heard the church plant, the growing old in one place, the having babies weren’t happening, I could, with confused, weary — but not bitter — tears, embrace His changes.
God is not like us. He is infinite and perfect, loves beyond the depth of the galaxies, with more strength than a hurricane.
For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear,
Nor has the eye seen a God besides You,
Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.