“Don’t use your time and energies asking the Lord for a change in your circumstances; rather, ask Him to change your heart, which controls the way you respond to circumstances. Don’t ask Him to manipulate the events of your life; instead ask Him to mold the character that would under-gird all of life.” (BeAttititudes for Women by Dorothy Kelly Patterson)
I was recently reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the movie Evan Almighty. After Joan Baxter prays for her family to grow in love for one another, she has a conversation with God (played by Morgan Freeman). He responds, “Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”
Are we expecting the Lord to always make our circumstances turn out just the way we want them to? For me, I think that answer would be yes. I’ve noticed myself getting so frustrated when someone cuts me off in traffic, or my professor gives a boring lecture, or I don’t get encouragement from friends like want. I assume that because I am following Christ that life should be simple and tasks assigned to me should be easy. What right do I have to expect the world to revolve around me and to work in my favor?
God doesn’t take away the tough times in life, or the boring times or the frustrating ones. Sometimes they are actually placed there to strategically answer our prayers.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Instead of wanting to curse our circumstances and beg God to take them all away, I believe we can see them as blessings and as chances to grow.
You know the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” God takes our prayers seriously. His desire is to change our hearts. He may not do it exactly the way we think He should (In my case taking away the difficult circumstances), but no prayer goes unanswered.