When I was a girl, my mother taught a series of children's lessons on prayer taken from the life of Amy Carmichael who spent many years in India as a missionary. The first story made a tremendous impact on me and I have never forgotten the lesson of the story. Sometimes, like any good father, God says, "No." Why? Because unlike us, God is omniscient. He sees all the ramifications, while we are unable to do so.
When Amy was a little girl, she decided to ask God to change her brown eyes into blue ones. Brown eyes were drab and dull as far as she was concerned but blue eyes were a different story. Blue was a much prettier color than plain, old brown!
Amy had been taught that God answers prayer so the night before her birthday, she confidently asked God for blue eyes instead of brown and hopped into bed. In the morning, she eagerly jumped out of bed and rushed to the mirror only to see the familiar pair of brown eyes staring at her. What had happened? Why hadn't God answered prayer?
Amy then heard someone say, "Isn't no an answer?"
Many years later, Amy discovered that God had a purpose for giving her blue eyes. You see, after arriving in India, Amy became aware of the child slavery and prostitution that took place in the temples. As a white woman, she could not enter the temples but if she dyed her skin and donned the proper clothes, she could easily pass through the doors and rescue children who were abused and in bondage, without any hope. That is exactly what she did. In the 19th century, she could apply dye to her skin and hair but she could not change the color of eyes. When a co-worker commented that it was a good thing that Amy had brown eyes, she instantly remembered the prayer she had prayed so many years ago. God had indeed, known best.
For four years a dear friend of mine prayed that her husband be healed of dementia. The disease had progressed quickly and though initially she attempted to care for him at home, things quickly reached a point where she had no choice but to transfer him to a facility where he could receive 24 hour care. A year ago, he stopped speaking and he had to be hospitalized on several occasions. Most recently he developed a sore which did not respond to antibiotics. I was there with my friend when she was told that there was nothing further that could be done. To do an amputation, in his condition would probably kill him and if he did survive, he would be in unbearable physical and psychological pain which they would be unable to alleviate due to his physical and mental condition. The difficult decision was made to place her husband into hospice.
Through all of this my friend faithfully continued to pray and trust that God would heal her husband. God would bring him home.
This morning, shortly after midnight, God took Michael home.
Around 12:30 a.m. the phone rang and my husband answered it. My friend's son-in-law was calling. He told me what had happened and that my friend wanted to know if I could please come. Knowing my husband had to get up for work in about five hours, I told him I would be fine going alone. As I drove on the dark and nearly empty freeway, I thought about the past four years and my friend's constant faith that one day her husband would be healed and go home. My husband and I had left Michael's bedside about four hours earlier. His breathing had been labored and a fever of 103.5 had been unchecked. Whenever he did open his eyes, they wandered about the room, unfocused and he was silent. Now, Michael was home.
My husband was supposed to have knee surgery this morning. We had completely cleared our calendar for the next five days. Yesterday about 4:00 p.m. he got a call saying that there had been a problem getting all the worker's comp paperwork processed and the ONLY doctor it seems who could approve the surgery had been called out of town due to a family emergency. While my husband was trying to do what he could in order to still have the surgery today as all arrangements in regards to taking off time from work had been made, I prayed. I prayed that if it was God's will for the surgery to be done today, that the door would open. The door remained shut and the surgery is rescheduled for mid-September. The door remained shut and now I know why. Instead of caring for my husband at home over the next few days, I am now available to be there for my friend.
God always answers prayer but sometimes we forget that no is also an answer as well as wait. When you don't get the answer you hoped for, do not let your faith waver. Though you might not understand, continue to trust God, no matter what. You might never understand the whys but you can be confident that God does and He is with you, even when the answer is no.
I love the lesson that your mother shared that made such an impact on you -- and how perfectly it complements the circumstance with which your friend dealt with so beautifully.
Thank you for sharing this with us and providing the lovely example of Cynthia's acceptance of God's will for her husband and for providing too a reminder for us of how God's plan regarding your husband's situation was being delayed for a notable cause. I'm sure his response [too] was one of acceptance.
Bless you, K
My prayers will continue for you, your husband, son, Cynthia, and her family.
Any Carmichael's childhood home is about an hours drive from me. I am so sorry to hear of your friends death and of the postponement of Dave's operation.
Yet you are so right in reminding us that sometimes "No" is God's blessing in disguise.