When God’s Answer to Prayer Looks Different

I like a good story about an answer to prayer.  Especially when the answer is exactly what was asked for.

On Friday morning I was on the way to a funeral for a friend of mine.  Stacie and I were responsible for several items including the program for the service.  We were experiencing a few technical difficulties and in the end we were running late.

We took some time to pray as we drove.  We prayed for safety and protection on the road.  We prayed that we might be an encouragement to others.  We asked to be used as channels of God’s blessing to others.  We asked for God to use us to comfort the family.  These were our requests.  We brought them before the throne and went on our way.

As we drove I realized that I did not even know how to grieve for my friend.  I was glad for the opportunity to serve the family, it helped me process all the events of the past several months.  But it all seemed unreal to me.  Stacie and I had prayed for his healing from the time we first heard of his illness.  Today we were going to his funeral.  I was wishing for some quiet time to think through everything. But we had the programs for the service and we were going to film the service.  We had to keep going.

The funeral service was a meaningful celebration of his life.  It helped me appreciate the time we had together and the fact that he was in heaven now.  It provided a time of reflection that helped me see some of the eternal perspective in the midst of our loss.

As the funeral procession started I was thinking of the different ways people respond to grief.  For some it is easy to externalize.  For me, not so easy.  I seem to internalize first, and then slowly externalize in the months ahead.  Often the process time for past grief is triggered by times of solitude,  beauty, or joy long after the actual loss occurred.

Out on the freeway my musings were shattered in a matter of seconds when several cars that were not part of the funeral procession cut into the line creating a dangerous situation that ended when our little car- with tires squealing- smashed into the back of another car.  Once the dust from the airbags settled and I realized that I was still in one piece I made my way around the car to where my pregnant wife was still strapped in.  She looked dazed but said she felt alright.  We moved her to a friend’s air conditioned car and I began to deal with all the aftermath.  Police reports.  Towing decisions.  Exchanging information with the other driver.  The general disbelief that my wife’s little car was smashed up.

I sent my wife on ahead with friends while I stayed on the shoulder of the freeway waiting to remove the car. It was very hot in San Antonio that day.  I was wearing a suit.  For a moment I felt the oppression of the enemy.   I did not understand. I had prayed for safety that morning, I had also prayed for the healing of my friend in whose funeral procession I had just had the collision.  I was reminded of something I’ve often said to God, “Father, I am doing my part by bringing this request to you.  Your part is to decide what you want for me.  But no matter what, good or bad, I will praise You.” 

I began to praise God. I found myself singing “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman.  The words, “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your Name” really ministered to me.  My heart had a choice, and I was choosing to honor God with everything I had.

Hours later we were returning from getting a sonogram and doing a specific checkup to make sure the baby was fine.  I still felt a bit as if I was living someone else’s life instead of my own.  But slowly the deeper gratification to God was sinking in.  He had answered our prayers, His answer to prayer and my expected answer looked different. That was all.

Our prayer was for our friend’s healing.  God’s answer to prayer was ushering him into life eternal, never to be sick again.

Our prayer was for safety on the road.  God’s answer to prayer was keeping us safe in the midst of a car crash.

Our prayer was to be used to comfort and encourage others.  God’s answer to prayer was using others to comfort and encourage us.

The song, “Blessings” by Laura Story has really touched me deeply this week.  Listen to the song and let it encourage you to embrace God in the difficult times.

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