Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
We all love a good success story. We hear stories of someone’s rise to the top and marvel at how wonderful it must be to have “made it.” Maybe it’s an athletic accomplishment like winning a gold medal. Maybe it’s someone’s rise out of poverty to become CEO of a major corporation. Perhaps it’s just someone’s good fortune in becoming the next YouTube star or personality on America’s Got Talent. Whatever it is, we take consideration of the end product, the person standing before our eyes with the success they have obtained.
3. Praise God even for unanswered prayers
In closing, I’m led to share one huge example from my own life in which I have learned to deal with an unanswered prayer. My main occupation and my life since 2002 has been marked as a pharmacist. It’s what I went I to school for, straight out of high school and it’s what has been a very stable, steady income for my family and I over these many years. In my first few years of being out of pharmacy school employed as a pharmacist, I felt very clearly the call to go into ministry. I saw this call as a transition; to me leaving pharmacy and being full-time in ministry. That became my prayer to the Lord. I pursued Bible school, made the jump into church vocational ministry and all the while, still worked as a pharmacist. That whole season lasted 7 years and by the end of 2016, I was full-time at my church, working just limited hours in the pharmacy. I felt God was finally answering my prayer and moving me into the place I was meant to be in.
But by the end of 2017 having again received a burden from the Lord, I found myself once more primarily working pharmacy as my family and I left our church and moved to Spring Hill, Tennessee (read my blog A New Season). I realized I was back where I started and back working several shifts a week while trying to build a ministry, a platform, and step into the path I felt called to. I’ve had many times since moving that I’ve asked God “When does this end? When do I step into just doing music, doing worship and otherwise, only ministry? That’s what you called me here for after all.” In that grappling and wrestling with the Lord, I’ve clearly come to understand His picture is so much bigger and His understanding so much wider than what I can see. And in the midst of that, He has caused me to rejoice. He has caused me to find happiness knowing His “no” at this moment is not out of being wrathful or vengeful. It is out of love.
I’ve come to see my shifts in the pharmacy as opportunities to share Christ. To be a light in a dark place. For this season, this is my mission field. And let me tell you, when God allowed me to open up like this, I began having conversations and interactions I never thought I would have. My whole story in moving to Tennessee has become a reason to give God glory and praise and I’m excited every time I get to share it.