Last night, I had the opportunity to teach a group of 9-12 year olds about gratitude. We talked a lot about what gratitude is, and how to practice it. I’m a strong believer in the power of gratitude, and make it a point to practice it each and every day, even when its hard. And I promise, sometimes it’s really, really hard. With the girls, I wanted to emphasize that there is always something to be thankful for, as they come from backgrounds and face challenges many of us can’t even begin to comprehend.
Some of them had fun, childlike things they were grateful for – chinchillas, hedgehogs, Chipotle. Many of them, however, said things like “shelter” and “food to eat.” In some cases, they haven’t always had those things. I really stopped in my tracks to think about how many things I take for granted – like shelter and food – that some of these girls may not have consistent access to.
This time of year, we spend a lot of time reflecting on what we’re thankful for. I have a lot of blessings in my life: family, friends, Knox, a steady job, barre, food in the fridge, a little money in the bank. The list goes on. Sometimes, though, we get bogged down in what we don’t have.
The Bible tells us:
You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it. – Matthew 21:22.
And so, we pray. And pray, and pray, and pray, believing God will send us whatever we’re asking for, be it a cured loved one or a new puppy. God always answers our prayers, although perhaps not in the way we want him to. Reading a recent blog by Kenzie on Journaling Gratitude, one of her prompts was “What unanswered prayers are you thankful for?”
I loved this.
The Bible also says:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4
Like you, I have a running list of seemingly unanswered prayers. Jobs I wanted, relationships I wanted to save, people I wanted to be cured. All of those prayers were ultimately answered, just in unexpected ways, and not always to my liking. Sometimes, it takes a while – a long while – to realize your prayers were answered.
Sometimes, we pray and it doesn’t feel like God hears us. He’s not ignoring us, he’s just asking us to be thankful for those trials, to grow in perseverance, to wait for His time, because that’s the right time. I rarely blog about my dating life, but I’m in a place, and have been for a while, where I’m okay with this season of singleness. Of course I hope it doesn’t last that much longer, or that I’ll bump into “The One” at the dog park or be set up with someone that actually works out. But, I’m okay with that prayer being unanswered for now.
You see, I wouldn’t have been “ready” for that prayer to be answered before now. I may not be ready now, and just don’t know it. I’ve had a lot to figure out about myself, a lot of things to learn, see, and do, things I wouldn’t have been able to do if I were, for a lack of better phrase, tied down.
And so, I’m thankful for that unanswered prayer, among others. I believe God has used – and continues to use – this season to strengthen me, change me, help me grow, so, when it is His time, I’ll be ready.
This Thanksgiving, take a moment to be grateful for the many blessings around you. But, also take time to be grateful for those unanswered prayers, struggles, and trials. Someday, when they are answered, you will see why you had to wait so long.
It’s always worth the wait. Promise.