Do you ever feel like God is ignoring you?
You’ve heard people wail, “Why didn’t God answer my prayer?” Or, there’s the pious reminder, “Sometimes God says, ‘No’ or, ‘Maybe.'” Oh how generous of them to offer their unsolicited semi-condolences.
Usually, in our finite minds the concept of, “everything working together for our good” and, “[His] ways are higher than [our] ways,” seem mutually exclusive. (Romans 8:28 and Is. 55:8-9)
Last week Patrick was supposed to have PRK eye surgery. He was so excited. For years, he has talked about it, but the Army is pretty selective about who they will send to get it. First you have to be a candidate for it visually, then, in Patrick’s case, they have to be able to spare you from your job for a week – and you have to be living in the states, and you have to be near a military hospital that performs the surgery. Finally, it seemed like all of the odds were in his favor. His colonel approved it, he had people to cover him for at work, the eye doctor gave him a go, and so the countdown began.
For about 10 days we knew his appointment date and carefully scheduled around it. We talked through all the worst case scenarios (dumb idea) and planned creative ways to distract him from the pain during recovery. He gleefully order a new pair of Oakley sunglasses that he has been drooling over for months – soon he could wear them without trying fit them over his prescription glasses.
Other benefits – the soldiers cannot wear any glasses when conducting funerals or formal ceremonies as members of the honor guard. Now he could finally see eye winks and hand signals!
Last Wednesday, we woke up before 6 a.m., sipped coffee like we were sitting on needles and picked out library audio books for that afternoon. Then, we battled typical DC traffic all the way to Walter Reid. Next, we spent 30 minutes driving through the spiral eternity of their parking garage. At the last minute, Patrick ditched the car and ran inside and I had to drive off-site to park. It was 8:30 a.m.
I won’t bore you with the next 2 hours. I twiddled and meandered and read and fiddled. He was with the doctors doing last minute measurements and getting his numbing drops – I thought. His surgery was supposed to be at 10 a.m., so I was pacing outside the waiting room door at 10 after. Empty-handed and painless, Patrick sauntered past me and headed to the elevator.
“It’s not going to happen,” he answered calmly without even looking at me. As if I was supposed to know that.
“Apparently my cornea is too thin. The doctor I saw today said he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if he did the surgery.”
That’s good enough for me. I’d rather see through coke-bottle lenses than be blind!
But here’s what I’m getting at:
I’d been praying for weeks that Patrick would have minimal pain. I had prayed desperately that God wouldn’t take his sight. I know it’s rare, but it happens. Even as I waited for him that morning, I saw four blind men in the hospital. I knew my mom was praying, I knew my grandma was praying, I knew Joan was praying. And I knew that Patrick had been praying for the opportunity to have this surgery.
So what was God’s answer? God chose to answer my prayer for painlessness and protection by keeping Patrick from having surgery. That’s not exactly what I was praying for, but usually, we don’t know the depths of what we are asking.
From a different view of this whole story, I have to applaud my husband. I know he is disappointed. I was disappointed for him. To be taken to the last minute, the half-hour before and then to be told, “No.”
Patrick simply said, “OK.” With no more than a sigh, he picked out a new set of glasses frames, drove us home and went back to work. He hasn’t complained once since then.
Hmmm… Lessons to remember:
1. God always answers and it’s always for my good – now or later.
2. Displaying the grace of Jesus means accepting His will for me with joy, peace and trust in His greater knowledge and love for me.