The one thing I’ll always remember my Uncle Sammy for is his quick temper. Everything used to set him off! There wasn’t a single day he didn’t get upset and yell at one person or the other. The funniest thing was that he would always mutter under his breath, “God, give me patience, God, give me patience, God, give me patience”, and then he would explode. As far as I am aware, he never once found the patience he prayed for. He died at 51 of hypertension.
I always wondered why God never answered his prayer. But as I grew and started to mutter a few prayers of my own, I discovered a rather fascinating pattern. Whenever I prayed to God for faith, He would put me in situations that almost convinced me that He didn’t exist. Whenever I prayed for money, I would suddenly find myself facing the biggest bills and debts ever. Whenever I prayed for courage, I would suddenly find myself facing the most terrifying obstacles.
I remember how worried I got in 2007 when I suddenly started losing weight, while feeling extremely thirsty and uncontrollably weak. One night, I lay in bed, closed my eyes, and, with tears streaming down my face, begged God to heal me. The following day, I fell into a coma, was taken to hospital, and didn’t come home for almost half a year.
Each time I prayed for something and got what appeared to be the exact opposite, I remembered my Uncle Sammy. It baffled me that a God who loved us would not only refuse to answer our prayers, but actually give us the opposite of what we asked for. What was the idea? If He won’t give me what I ask for, fair enough. He knows best. But why give me the opposite of what I ask for? What’s that about.
As with most existential questions, the answer came to me from an unlikely source. Last weekend, I was watching the hilarious comedy, Evan Almighty, starring Steve Carrell as Evan, a US congressman who receives some frankly ridiculous instructions from God, played impeccably by the amazing Morgan Freeman. Of course, the seemingly preposterous nature of God’s instructions to build an ark in the middle of the Washington suburbs ends up testing not only Evan’s faith but that of his wife and sons. So at some point in the Narrative, God, has a quiet word with Evan’s wife (who of course, doesn’t know she was talking to God). She is doubting the existence of God and the sanity of her husband.
To give her some perspective, God says something rather profound: “Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”
So there it was. My answer. I asked for faith, he put me in situations where I was forced to believe. I asked for money, he sent me gargantuan bills, so I had no option but to work hard and make more money than ever, just so I could pay them. I asked for good health, he made sure that by the time I came out of that hospital, I would NEVER take my health for granted ever again. I asked for courage, so he fed me to the monsters. Because he had already given me all the courage I could ever need. All I needed were the right conditions for my courage to manifest itself.
So today, I want you to do a prayer audit. First, think about all the things you have been praying for. Second, understand that God has given you everything you will ever need to answer those prayers. And third, understand that your current circumstances, no matter how dire and distressing, are simply opportunities to do what God created you to do: dominate.
My name is KojoYankson, and God answered all my prayers when He created me. Now, all I pray for are opportunities to prove it.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!