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When God Has a Better Idea

The wisdom of trusting God’s will in your prayers.

Praying for an answer

My parents announced we were moving.

I was 13 years old and had lived in the same house since I was an infant. The news of our impending move from Cincinnati to St. Louis, over 300 miles away, upset and angered me. My parents dutifully explained the advantages of a new job for my father, a new home for us and the fact that we would be much closer to my mother’s parents and sister (who lived in St. Louis).

I wasn’t convinced; I couldn’t understand why my parents—or God, for that matter—would do such a thing to me. I prayed for God to let me stay where all of my friends were. I prayed for Him to change my parents’ minds and plans. I prayed harder than I ever had before.

We moved anyway.

At some point—now settled into a new home, new job, new school and new church—Mom consulted a doctor about a lump on her breast. It was cancerous. She underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatments, but the disease was never checked, much less reversed.

She died 15 months after the move. It felt to me as though God had abandoned my family and me. It felt as though He had never heard a single one of my heartfelt prayers, let alone answered them.

Three months after her funeral, my father and I packed all of our possessions into a rented truck and moved back to Cincinnati. As I watched the Gateway Arch, St. Louis’s distinctive landmark, shrink in the truck’s side mirror, I began to see also what God had done.

He had transplanted my family for a brief 15 months to the only place on earth where my mother could have enjoyed the daily attention of her parents and sisters as she prepared for the day when cancer would claim her body and God would claim her soul. Her last year of earthly life, while difficult, held some comfort for her, her parents and the rest of us. We had each other as we were losing her.

That experience taught me a lesson I am still learning (slowly) to this day: the wisdom of praying according to God’s will and submitting every request to His all-knowing providential care.

Since that time, the phrase Jesus used on the night of His betrayal—“ nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done” (Luke 22:42, KJV)—has become an important reminder that often, when I pray, God has a much better idea than I do. And I would much rather trust His wisdom than my own.

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