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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Sometimes prayers go unanswered for a reason

Friday, June 17, 2011

Divine intervention.

That's what we called it, although we (embarrassingly) didn't refer to it that way until after the fact when we had a glimpse of God's handiwork.

Five of us -- my four 1968 college sorority sisters and I -- were in Mazatlan waiting for another one of our friends, Colleen, to arrive.

When our friend called and said her airplane was heading back to the gate in Kansas City because of a malfunction, we weren't alarmed. Surely Continental would find another way for Colleen to make this annual "girlfriend" trip.

We said some prayers asking for God's help and waited to hear the new arrival time. That's when Colleen's texts started coming, telling us she was in tears and that no one would help.

We got to work. Cathy called her travel agent. Diana started texting. Dizzy and I got on our computers to find an alternate plan while Keller tried to phone Continental. Apparently, flights were full and Colleen, the outrageous personality of our crazy group, would not make this year's trip.

A "no" answer to prayer. We've all been there. The hospital stay is extended or drug rehabilitation fails or spouses leave anyway or job forecasts appear nonexistent or death cries for yet another loved one.

Certainly all of these are much weightier issues than our friend's flight cancellation, yet all cause us to ask for that divine intervention, that reinforcement that God is still in the miracle business, that check to see if we are living right -- as if our faith depends on it.

And that's the problem. At least it's mine, for it seems that almost every time my prayers are not answered as I would like, there is that twinge of doubt, of questioning where my faith has failed. In other words, my Pharisee-like nature is revealed.

The New Testament is loaded with stories of the religious leaders' legalism and "by the rule" beliefs, one being that all bad things happen because of sin. Even Jesus' disciples got caught up in that debate.

Luke 13 gives us the particulars of a discussion that dealt with a man, blind from birth, and the potential causes of his infliction: had he sinned in his mother's womb or because of his parents' sin? Jesus set them straight.

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

I can't imagine what sort of a response that must have elicited from Jesus' audience. After all, there HAD to be a reason for his blindness. The law said so.

Today's Christian knows that for some situations our "no" explanations will come in eternity; for others, we are fortunate to see them almost immediately. The latter was the case with Colleen.

When her husband John arrived at the airport to pick up his tearful wife, he shared that the family had been keeping a secret from her: her sister was having surgery in two days but had made the family promise to not tell Colleen because of her trip with us.

We, her friends, agreed that she would have been devastated had she been relaxing here in Mexico when her sister needed her at home.

With that text from our friend our perspective totally changed, and we began discussing how an amazing God had used a malfunctioning airplane to bless Colleen and her sister. Divine intervention.

We had the privilege of praying for that family for the next few days, but I added a prayer of my own:

"Please God, the next time You send a 'no' my direction, remind me of Colleen."

I intend to keep a copy of this story for that very purpose.

Patty LaRoche
Patty LaRoche: Face to Face