It’s a fresh new year. Undoubtedly, we’ll hear choruses of “Happy New Year!” ringing through grocery stores, offices and the health club we just joined to work on our recent resolutions. While the wishes are heartfelt and sincere, we realize the prospect of having a happy year is a long shot for some because of our uncertain economy. We often wish we could make everyone happy.
What would truly bring us happiness? Losing weight, finding a way to finance college tuition, or perhaps getting answers to prayer? Receiving answers to prayer can reassure us that the God of the universe actually hears and loves us. But do we ever consider that “no” is also a loving answer to prayer?
A few years ago when my daughters were six and eight, we were dutifully sweeping out the garage. My youngest, Faith*, noticed that her older sister was wearing a new bracelet.
“Where did Caroline* get that?” she asked, glaring at me.
“I picked it up for her when I was shopping the other day.”
Screaming ensued, and you would have thought I was ordering Cinderella to sweep the chimney while her stepsister shopped for the prom. I could have stopped the tantrum and tears by revealing that I had ordered something very special for her birthday the next month, but I didn’t want to ruin the surprise . I bought Caroline’s simple bracelet the same day I ordered a beautiful, monogrammed bracelet for Faith. In kindergarten, just learning to spell, Faith was enthralled by anything bearing her hard-to-find initial.
Faith stamped her Barbie sneaker, decreeing that it wasn’t fair. However, I knew that waiting to let her open a beautiful, carefully chosen gift on her birthday would make her happier than giving it to her right then. If she had only known.
Suddenly it hit me. God spoke to me through a sobbing, snaggle-toothed little angel. How many times have we thrown a tantrum about an opportunity, a lavish vacation or a special relationship someone else has that we don’t? It’s just not fair.
My daughter didn’t know about the monogrammed bracelet that I had ordered to appeal to her heart alone. If we only knew the custom-made blessings God is planning for us that eclipse our own imagination, then maybe we wouldn’t throw our 40-year-old tantrums. Sometimes God’s “no” means “not yet.” Perhaps He waits so that He can bless us more fully when the time is right.
So what would truly make us happy in the new year? Probably kids who pick up their clothes, a small gesture of appreciation or simply time to do something we enjoy. Those things may take a while in coming. Maybe we should try to appreciate God’s loving “not yet’s” with their promise of increased blessings later on when we’re ready. Like my six-year-old, we think we’re ready now, but we don’t know what’s around the corner. Meanwhile, let’s look for the small miracles we see every day—after all, it’s just like God to open up that parking space. It’s just like God to do something differently or let us fail. And it’s just like God to suddenly turn a heart around.
Let’s look forward to a happy new year with anticipation and excitement about all God has planned for us. But the kids picking up their clothes? Don’t get crazy.
*Names have been changed