By Aly Tugaoen
Have you ever prayed “God’s will be done” for a specific intention, but you’re secretly praying that God will answer the intention in the way you have decided is best?
I recently had an experience like this. I prayed hard to know God’s will for a work situation and when his will was (partially, in this case) made known to me, I was crushed. God did not answer my prayer in a way that saved me from suffering. I wanted to curl up in a ball, cry, and disappear from my colleagues until they forgot my name.
However, in his infinite mercy, God revealed the remaining part of his intentions for me a few months later — but not before I shed a lot of tears, recited many more prayers, and begged for a glaring sign from him that would help me understand how it was all supposed to work out. I had a hard time recognizing how he was blessing me in the middle of my despair.
I see a similar situation in Zechariah. He and Elizabeth wife prayed for so many years in anticipation of a child, that when God chose to answer their prayer despite being considered “advanced in years and baron,” Zechariah simply couldn’t believe it. Unlike Mary, who also asks the angel Gabriel how she would come to be with child, out of bewilderment and acceptance, Zechariah asked the angel Gabriel how the miraculous pregnancy of his wife could come to be because he couldn’t see the gift among the boxes.
Advent is much like that. It’s waiting and anticipating. Today in the year 2020, we know that Advent is a four week season that points us to the birth of Jesus, but this historical knowledge is a luxury that Zechariah and Elizabeth did not have. It can be hard to stay faithful to the anticipation and the waiting aspects that accompany the season of Advent, especially given our get-it-now culture, but what a gift we are given if we take the time to humble ourselves and look for the good that Advent brings. Pray that it does not take us being put on “mute” as Zechariah was, to see it.
Think of a time when your prayers were not answered the way you expected. In hindsight, do you see God’s hand the whole time? Give thanks for that.