July 2, 2008

 

 Answer Envy

Karen Ehman

 

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

         

Devotion:

“How wonderful!!!” I exclaimed! “I am so happy for you!” This was my response to the breaking news that friends of ours from North Carolina had sold their house after it had been on the market for twenty days.

 

To them it had been a long twenty days. Houses are normally snatched up quickly in their neck of the woods. In our shaky Michigan economy, however, it takes a bit longer. In fact, on the day she announced that her home now sported a sold sign, we turned another page on our calendar marking how long our house had been for sale. Not twenty days, but twenty months to be exact. Although I was genuinely thrilled for her, I was also a tad green with jealousy.

 

I refer to it as 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 He responds with a “yes” when my 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 and 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, He just didn’t make my daddy come back to us.

 

In high school, it was other girls’ good looks, cute clothes or even cute boyfriends that I longed for. Instead, I was granted average looks and donned department store blue-light-special 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 night in shining armor, complete with sparkly diamond ring, were answered while I remained single. Once married, I struggled with miscarriage and dashed dreams of motherhood. So, for five long years, I slapped a smile on my face to mask my broken heart and attended yet another pale pink or baby blue church shower.

 

Over the years I have discovered that the cure for answer envy is not always easy because I must play an active role in my own healing. What I need is a shift in perspective. When I “call to God” as encouraged in today’s verse, I must trust that He will keep His word. He will tell me “great and unsearchable things” that I do not know. Sometimes those things are the answers to my request. However, do you know what those great and unsearchable things more often are? They are the reasons He seems not to be answering my original request!

 

So, instead of only begging God to “sell my house” or “take away my pain” or “fix my kid,” I need also 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 must 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.

 

So, our “for sale” sign has remained and I continue my stay in God’s waiting room. However, 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, as I bring my requests before You, please help me be mindful of what You are doing in my heart while I walk through life and its storms. As I wait for Your answers, make me more like your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?

 

Visit Karen Ehman’s blog

 

A Life that Says Welcome by Karen Ehman

 

Application Steps: 

Recall a prayer request or two from your past where God seemed not to be answering. What else did you learn about Him as you waited for His reply?

 

List any personal prayer requests you currently have on a piece of paper or in a journal. As you continue walking through life in the next few months, next to your requests, chronicle all of the peripheral blessings that come from the waiting.

  

Reflections:

What category do your prayers to God fall into most often—help me, show me, rescue me or change me?

 

Power Verses:

Psalm 38:15, “I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.” (NIV)

 

Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (NIV)

 

 

© 2008 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

 

Proverbs 31 Ministries

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