A child's age of two is often called "the terrible twos" with good reason. Parents get frustrated when the word they hear most frequently from their toddler is "No!" Out-of-control feelings and tantrums contribute to parents' exhaustion and frazzled nerves. Parents take comfort in knowing this is just a stage of development and it won't last. But then comes the "terrible threes" when the child's vocabulary has expanded to include the word "I" and tantrums are even more intense. Children want to assert themselves. At this stage parents try to calmly help them learn how to interact with others.
Every stage of development has both challenges and joys for parents and their children. As children's knowledge increases, parents can enjoy rediscovering the world along with their children. However, at some point the most common word the child utters is the ever repetitive "Why?" Children may be defiant, defensive, resistive or just inquisitive. They're not satisfied with a single answer or it's not the "right" answer they want to hear or they simply want to understand. Whatever the reason, they continually ask "Why?" Parents' response to their child's persistence is patience rooted in love.
We, too, may be persistent in asking God "Why?" when faced with situations beyond our control. We're desperate, the pain is so deep, the burden is so heavy, the trial is so long, the struggle is so intense that we want relief, understanding and guidance. We cry out to God in prayer expecting an answer, then wait. We want a miracle but God doesn't always answer the way we expect. Sometimes God does perform a miracle, sometimes God's answer comes from another source and sometimes the Holy Spirit gives us strength to endure. We've heard the saying, "God works in mysterious ways." Well, God also works in ordinary ways. You may have heard this humorous story, but it illustrates my point.
A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on.
Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.” To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the motorboat went on.
Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.” To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.
Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”
Don't limit how God responds to your prayers. God usually works in everyday non-miraculous ways. Look around you and listen. God is always here. "When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble; I will rescue them and honor them." (Psalm 91:15) You may feel all alone but God has promised “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5) And Jesus said, "I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” (Matthew 28:20). The answer to our "Why" is "WHO." "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19) Our confidence and hope is rooted in God's love, patience and faithfulness!