Every morning as I work out on one of my loved/hated aerobics machines, I find myself talking to God – more of a conversation than a prayer. Most days I present God with a laundry list of problems and what I want Him to do about them.
I leave the gym comforted that I have done what today’s reading from Luke recommends – asking in order to receive. Cool!
But a funny thing happens between the treadmill and God’s answer to my prayers. As promised, God usually answers them but often not as I requested.
It reminds me of something Creighton’s wonderful Larry Gillick S.J. once told a high school faculty retreat group. Very often we confuse the voice of God with our own ego. But God’s answers aren’t necessarily what we sought. Often they are better if we just keep seeking until we find.
A year ago I was working on a book proposal and praying that a particular publisher would accept it. But the publisher rejected it. Naturally I was dejected but had to move on to something else. So I prayed for a new idea and an even better one came along that another publisher accepted. Now as I work on my book on the history of women in journalism in Nebraska, I thank God for the turndown of the first idea. I think of the old mantra that when God closes a door, He opens a window.
Obviously not every incident works out this neatly. Life doesn’t come in boxes tied up in red ribbons. Sometimes God answers our prayers by helping us cope with suffering and find meaning in it. No one likes to suffer but in time we realize it can give us insights into the meaning of life, especially if we try to turn our misfortunes into good for other people.
The older I get, the more I believe in the truth today’s wonderful Gospel passage but in a far more nuanced sense than when I was younger. This reading is about seeking and trusting God to help us find answers. Ultimately it asks us to believe that God will answer our prayers by helping us understand the meaning of His divine wisdom for us.
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