When God Doesn’t Do What You Ask

My redbud died. Well, actually it was Hope’s. We got it to celebrate her first birthday and planted it sometime early September. And it looked beautiful those autumn months–some of those heart shaped leaves turning crimson just before falling off. I had tried to picture it years down the road, how it would look in that spot and wondered if little hands and feet would climb into it’s branches and I’d thought about planting phlox underneath. It never occurred to me that this little “Hope-tree” wouldn’t make it through the winter.

And for weeks after the grass sprung up and the crocus bloomed and the daffodils came, I had walked out to that tree and looked for new growth. But, it never came. All the other redbuds have been at their peek all over our neighborhood, but not this little guy.

I bend a branch and it snaps. 

And I know it seems strange but I ask God if He would revive it. For a few weeks, I ask Him. And I had the most radical faith that He would. I mean, after all, He’s the One who made all the trees and everything out of nothing. It’s no big deal for Him to make the sap run again and tender little leaves to unfurl.  

But, He doesn’t. I snap another branch. There’s no life. Just brittle limbs.

And at first I’m confused and my feelings are hurt. I know it’s ridiculous, because it’s just a tree, right?  But it’s our “Hope-tree” and what kind of God doesn’t want His children to believe that there’s hope? I take it so personally. And I start to ask Him why. Why does He do His own thing? Why doesn’t He do what I ask? Doesn’t He want me to feel loved?

I remember a verse from His Word:

Though the fig tree doesn’t blossom and there are no grapes on the vines. Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food. Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God, my Savior. (from Habakkuk 3:17-18)

I think about what it means. What it means right now, to me. Even though my redbud tree died, and God didn’t bring it back to life like I asked Him to, even though I’m disappointed and a bit confused, I’ll still rejoice in my God. I’ll still be joyful in God, my Savior. 

I think about other people and situations in my life that are disheartening. Like, my friend who has cancer. And someone I love whose husband left her for someone else. And a little girl I adore who has had countless seizures and even the best doctors can’t seem to help. And I wonder why we should still rejoice in God when He lets bad things happen. When He disappoints. When He doesn’t do what we ask.

Today I read words from my favorite author.

With memories of gravestones, of combing fingers through tangled hair, I wonder too…if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

To see through to God.

That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave. –from Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts.

I go out to check on the redbud one last time and tell my God that I’ve accepted the fact that He’s not gonna answer this prayer the way I want Him to. But, this time there’s some peace in my heart because I think I’m just barely beginning to see.

To see that maybe the places that I’ve come to view as messed up, disappointing holes in the canvas of my life are just places for me to see what I’ve been mostly needing all along. More of Him. A means where I can lean in closer to His heart. His heart that’s always for me.

Something inside me grows a little stronger. Sometimes God heals places that I can’t see.


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