“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (CSB)
Do you ever envy God’s answers to someone else’s prayers?
I recall the twinges of pain that shot through my heart each time I would open my mailbox discovering yet another baby shower invitation. As a young bride longing to become a mother, the joy of my positive pregnancy test was shattered a few months later when I suffered a miscarriage. And, although I was genuinely thrilled for my friends who were pregnant, I was also heartbroken that it wasn’t my name on those pale pink or baby blue invites.
I call this answer envy. It is that “poor me” mentality that creeps into my heart when God answers someone else’s prayers more quickly than mine. Or when His answer seems to be a “no,” or at least a “not right now.”
I’ve had my fair share of answer envy outbreaks over the years, at all stages of life.
As a child, I was envious of the kids who came from two-parent homes while I resided in a family torn apart by divorce. No matter how hard I folded my little hands and prayed to God, my daddy didn’t come back to us.
In high school, it was other girls’ good looks, cute clothes or even cuter boyfriends that I longed for. Instead, I was granted average looks and wore hand-me-down fashions. And, as sports editor of our school paper, although I was every guy’s pal, I was usually nobody’s gal.
In college, I envied those whose prayers for a knight in shining armor (complete with a diamond ring) were answered while I remained single.
My heart was filled with questions. God, why did my daddy leave? Where’s my knight? Why don’t I have a baby to hold? When will it be my turn?
Over the years I’ve discovered the cure for answer envy isn’t always easy. Rather than stay stuck in disappointment, I must play an active role in my healing.
What I need is a shift in perspective. When I call out to God with my questions as encouraged in Jeremiah 33:3, I must trust He will keep His word. He will tell me “great and incomprehensible things” that I do not know. Sometimes those things He provides are the answers to my request. However, do you know what those great and incomprehensible things more often are? They are the reasons He seems not to be answering my original request!
While God is generous to answer my requests, I also need to ask myself some questions. Questions like, “What is my Creator trying to teach me that I might never learn if He were to suddenly pluck me out of this situation?” Or, “What character qualities is He trying to grow in me? Patience, trust, compassion, contentment?”
Not available in quick microwave form, the cure for answer envy has to be cultivated moment by moment.
We must believe that God will answer. He will clearly say “yes,” “no,” or “not right now.” He is able, ready and willing to answer our prayers—here is the catch—as He sees fit and to grow us to be more like His Son in the process.
Sometimes we’ll have a long stay in God’s waiting room. Having been there myself, I now know this to be true: I must not merely seek the answer to my prayer. Instead, I must seek a deeper relationship with the answer Giver.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your perfect plans … Your perfect timing … and the perfect way Your development happens in my times of waiting. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.