Last May my cousin was diagnosed with cancer. That July I went on a FOCUS mission trip to Fatima and Ireland; and while in Fatima everyone kept talking about how it was a place of spiritual miracles, and so I prayed for Melissa the whole time, and offered up countless Rosary’s, with the upmost faith that the prayers would be heard. Then, when I returned to the states, I received great news! Her tumors were shrinking. I thanked God and continued my prayer efforts.
Unfortunately, less than 3 weeks after my return to America Mel had a seizure, and they found that the cancer had spread to her brain. She died less than a week later, during the last week of August.
I remember the sadness and loss that I felt, but what surprised me most was the anger I felt at God and, eventually, I asked the question that we will all likely ask at some point in our lives: “God, why did you let this happen and not answer my prayer?” My prayer was, in my opinion, fairly selfless. She was a young mom and loved family member, why couldn’t she heal? Due to this, I’ve also found myself wondering time and time again why God won’t just say yes to what I ask for! After all, if I’m praying selflessly what’s the harm??
First things first, let’s talk about a phrase many a human has uttered, myself included, “if God is so powerful He could have saved them”. This is something God has been hearing for quite a while. In fact, Jesus heard it while he was hanging on the cross, dying to save us: “ “If You are the King of the Jews,” they said, “save Yourself!” ” (Luke 23:37). Jesus could have done it, but He knew greater good would come from remaining on the cross than by bringing himself down. God chose to bless us with free will, this means He will never MAKE us do anything. The fact that is pertinent to keep in mind is that God never willed for these evils to befall us.
However, when Adam and Eve, using the free will that God chose to bless us all with, ate the apple, they altered God’s plan for us all irrevocably. Death was not part of God’s original plan, but Adam and Eve made it so. Yes, God could have prevented it, but because He chose to bless us with free will, and because He isn’t a master puppeteer, but rather a loving Father, He allows events to transpire according to human action, both good and bad.
Yes, God could have saved all the people we yearn for, and let us not forget, He did, when He sent His only son to die on a cross for us. In our human bodies it’s quite easy to get caught up in the pain and suffering we feel here on this earth. However, Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that our lives here on earth would be easy and free from suffering , He died for us so that amidst the pain and suffering of this world, we would be able to have a higher destination to look forward to, Heaven, and peace with Him for all eternity.
Another question I asked at that moment in my life was “God why don’t you just answer my prayer with a yes?” I would imagine many have wondered this same thing. However, perhaps a more important question we should ask ourselves is “What if God DID answer all my prayers with a yes?”
Let me give you a little snapshot of what my life would look like if God have given me a yes to all the prayers I’ve asked of him. I would be married to a guy from my high school class and probably have a child or two by now. I mean after all… I’m already 23… my best years are OBVIOUSLY behind me! (Via 17 year old me.) I would go to Church on Sundays. I would be a teacher and all of my students would have wonderful, safe, home lives.
Well Anna, you think to yourself, that’s not so bad! Oh but also, there’s another guy from my sophomore year of college that I maybe would marry, and I would be a volleyball coach, and I would live by the mountains.
My point is, what we pray for selflessly, in the moment, and what we think we genuinely want, changes. However, what God wants for us, which is joy and happiness and eternal life with Him, never changes. I told you about the wonderful (maybe) lives I would have had if God had said yes to everything I prayed for as 17 year old me and even 20 year old me. But let me now take a moment to tell you about all of the things God blessed me with that I never thought to ask for. He’s blessed me with beautiful, faith-filled friends, which have completely changed my outlook on the world. (Friends I didn’t think I needed, because I had it all figured out.) A mission trip to Ireland and Fatima that completely altered the path my Faith life was taking. Oh, and I wouldn’t be a FOCUS missionary this coming year.
I never asked for any of those things, because I didn’t think I needed them, I thought my plan was good. The beautiful thing about God though, is that His plan is always greater. It may not be the easier plan or the more painless plan, but, in the end, it is the plan that will lead us to the everlasting joy of eternity with Him.
I challenge you today to take the time to write down the things you asked God for that He chose to bless you with. Then, write down some of the things that He chose not to give you that you’ve struggled with accepting. Next, write down the things you never asked for that He gave you that you can’t imagine your life without. Finally, thank Him. Thank Him for the things you asked for, thank Him for the no’s, and thank Him for the beautiful plan He has that you never could have dreamt up on your own.
Yes, God could say yes to all of our prayers, but at what cost? What beautiful things He wants to bless you with would you miss out on if all He did was simply say yes? It’s easy to say yes, but God tells us more. In His no’s He gives us a subtle reminder that what He plans for us is greater than anything that we can physically imagine.