Location: New England, United States

Monday, September 19, 2005

Be Careful What You Ask For

About twenty years ago, I suffered a collapsed lung. It was a frigid January morning, the alarm clock buzzed and as I jumped out of bed, a great weight hit the right side of my chest. I could not breathe. An hour later, I was in the hospital with a chest tube in my side and morphine coursing through my body. A week later, I went home from the hospital wondering why this had happened to me. Yes, I was a smoker, but I found out later that smoking had little to do with collapsed lungs - I had blebs, or air bubbles in my lungs; the result of a disease I still cannot pronounce. It wasn't until years latter that I knew exactly why God had allowed this to happen.

Before my collapsed lung, two of my sisters had been praying that God would help them stop smoking. My collapsed lung was the only catalyst one of those sisters needed. She quit smoking soon after my hospital stay, and has been smoke free ever since. The other sister did not stop, but continued to pray for God's help.

The message had been sent by God to both my sisters; but only one recognized the message as answered prayer. My other sister never saw the answer. She did eventually stop smoking years later, but only after she had suffered her own collapsed lung.

When we ask God for something he always answers, but we do not always perceive those answers. We continue to pray, so God answers again with more force. If we still do not perceive the answer, he tries again and again, increasing the impact. Then, just like the sister who suffered the collapsed lung before she could see, we become angry with God for the way he answered our prayer. We never realize that it was our lack of faith, our lack of spiritual perception, that prompted God to answer with increasing force.

13 "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: 'You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. " Matthew 13:13-16 RSV


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