Have you ever found yourself in need – financial, emotional, relational – and prayed to God for a resolution to the issue or provision of some sort…
…and He didn’t come through?
You ask why. You get mad. You feel guilty. Maybe you even start thinking you’re gonna have to make it happen.
It’s not pretty.
I’ve recently found myself (again) in that type of situation, and received a great revelation when I least expected it.
[bctt tweet=”Have you ever felt yourself in need and God didn’t come through? @patfenner”]
It was at the end of a meeting at church, and my pastor was talking about the story of Abraham from Genesis 22. To summarize it here for you, God has asked Abraham to sacrifice his son: the son that was promised to him (Abraham), the son who would make him the father of more descendants than stars in the sky. But he was nothing if not obedient, and so, with a heavy heart, he packed up provisions, including Isaac, and headed out. On the way up the mountain, Isaac kept asking him where the sacrifice was, and Abraham, with a broken heart and unable to fill his son in on the impending event, kept reassuring him that God will provide…
I’m pretty familiar with the story, and I have to admit I mentally checked out on the pastor’s words as he went on. Until he “cut to the chase.”
But in order to explain that, let me ask you a few questions:
What was going on when God asked Abraham to make this sacrifice? While Abraham was preparing their provisions for the long trip? As they walked the distance to the altar of sacrifice? The Bible suggests the journey took many days. Making the journey on foot, they had plenty of time for conversation, for prayer, for meditation. No doubt Abraham took that time to continue to disciple his son. No doubt they discussed God’s promises, His goodness and mercy, even while Abraham was trusting God with his own broken heart the entire time.
What was happening while Abraham was climbing the mountain with Isaac? Picture this: Abraham and Isaac slowly climbing the hill, Abraham in obedience, Isaac with a simple, childlike trust in his father and his bigger God. On the other side of the hill, unseen and unknown by this pair, a lamb is also moving nearer towards the perfect spot where he will be seen by Abraham and recognized as God’s provision. He’s not waiting there; there is no need of his services yet. He will arrive after Abraham has laid his son on the altar in complete and total trust; even as the situation looks dire and utterly hopeless in Abraham’s, and our, frail human eyes.
Hearing these words, listening to this lesson, I truly felt like scales had fallen from my own eyes. What had only been head knowledge was now heart knowledge:
God provides, but not necessarily what I think I need or am even asking for.
[bctt tweet=”God provides, but not necessarily what I think I need or am even asking for. @patfenner”]
I pray: Lord, our finances are tight. Please send us an increase; give me a job; give my husband a raise.
What I’m really praying is: Lord, I worry that we won’t be able to continue in our comfortable life; that we won’t have enough money to pay our bills and we may be embarrassed or put-out by difficult decisions we may have to make.
What I should be praying: Lord, You are our provider, and what I’m really looking for is security. Help me to trust that the only security I need is in You, and that you are the same God who clothes the lilies of the field and provides for the birds that fly above.
I pray: Lord, my children have strayed, or they look like they’re on a bad path. Open their eyes to their sin, and straighten them out!
What I’m really praying is: Lord, I’m afraid that You don’t truly have them in the palm of Your hand. And I’m afraid of what I will look like as a parent and what people will say if my child strays from the way he or she was raised.
What I should be praying: Lord, what I’m really looking for is confidence in Your saving power, and knowledge that You are their God, too! As much as I love my children, I know You love them even more. Please show me how to gently disciple them, and help me to trust that You will speak to their hearts, be their shepherd and use all things for Your glory and their good.
You see, God always provides for His people.
It’s just that too often, when I’m praying for something, what I really need is something else that I can only get from Him.
So in those times w
and the lamb…and wait for what I really need, which will always come from The One Who knows….
Pat Fenner has been homeschooling her brood of 5 for almost 20 years. With a passion for encouraging moms in their parenting and homeschooling efforts, she shares experience-inspired wisdom with her friend Candy over at PatAndCandy.com. Sign up at their site for free printables and other “members only” materials to help you be the best you can be for your family! And stay connected with them over at Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, too.