Sunday, March 10, 2013

On unanswered prayer and grumbling

Here's another post I wrote awhile ago and never felt quite ready to post.  A couple of conversations about this recently brought it to mind.  I'm taking a step of faith and posting this during a season where the grumbling seems to be winning over the contentment and I need to remember. Remember.

Last spring, God came through for us in a big way.  He answered a big prayer of the previous six months, even longer.  A prayer that was starting to feel overlooked, unheard... But that’s a story for another post, one where I get to testify of God’s goodness to us.  However, today I want to talk about “unanswered” prayers.  

Here’s the context: The prayer God answered last spring was in the form of a job for me.  We so clearly saw God’s hand in it, His loving, caring, perfect provision, that I was humbled out of grumbling. How dare I grumble at how good God has been to me?...  In awe of his daddy care for us.

And then someone told me that they were praying that I wouldn’t have to work.  The person who told me that is a prayer warrior and someone who loves us immensely (my mom!).  Another dear friend and sister in prayer happened to mention that she was praying for the same thing: that I would be able to stay home with my children and care for my home.  I did not ask anyone to pray for these things.  I didn’t dare pray them for myself after seeing how God had provided.  Did I dare pray that He would take away what He had so generously provided?  It seemed so ungrateful.  What to do?  

This fall Matt and I re-evaluated our situation.  How was is going for him to be home most of the time and for me to be working full-time?  How was it impacting each of us? Our children? Our home? Our progress on other goals?  It seemed to be working, but sometimes felt a bit less than ideal.  We tentatively began to pray that God would provide the right job for Matt.  Someone (hi Rachel!) asked us how they could pray for us, and we included this on the list, stated ever so gingerly, “if it’s God’s will,” of course.

This whispered prayer, as of today, remains unanswered.  We haven’t gone looking for ways for God to answer it, instead trusting that if He desires to change our current situation, He will.

On the other hand, I see God answering this prayer daily.  He answers it most days by providing daily contentment in our current situation.  He answers it by giving me a husband who has risen to the challenge of his current role (potty training! time outs! teaching a baby how to sleep in her bed! mastering the grocery shopping with three kids in tow! making me feel welcome, loved, and cared for when I return home from work! making sure I have time to spend with our children!).  He answers it by giving us a baby who doesn’t fight a bottle from daddy most days and sons who look forward joyfully to “daddy days.” He answers it by providing me with meaningful, stimulating work and joy in doing it well.  He even blesses above and beyond with a flexible schedule that allows for me to be home one weekday each week.

And yet... there are days when I still grumble, when I think that things could be better if God answered it “my way.” The days when I wonder if the prayer is unanswered.  Surely the Sovereign God could provide a job that would use my husband’s gifts for His Kingdom, that would allow Matt to work outside the home.  Certainly He could arrange a situation where we could pay the bills and I could stay home and bake bread and clean the bathroom and read books with my children to my heart’s content.  

Maybe the answer is “not yet.”  Maybe this is part of the way he is growing my desire to build a home in India, where my role will be more at home.  Maybe he has more  for each of us to learn in these roles. Maybe he has more ways to use us in this season.

And so I continue to speculate about what God is doing behind the scenes; I celebrate the days when I see the good work he is doing; and I and pray for grace on the days when I want to grumble.  

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