When you make a prayer request, how quick of a response do you expect from God? Our natural desire is to want it NOW! But in humility we pray, “All right God, if now is not the best time to answer this prayer, then how about two seconds from now?”
Our modern technology teaches us impatience. Microwave ovens seemed miraculous when I was a newly married young adult; today, not even that is fast enough for us. What are we doing with the few seconds it takes to download a webpage off the internet? We talk to the screen — “Come on! What’s taking so long?” We could have used that time to talk to God.
In the Gospel reading (1 Samuel 18:6-9; 19:1-7), David was beginning to experience a major conflict with the man whom he loved like his own father. Saul was unreasonably jealous of him. David’s friend, Jonathan, tried to intervene, but this conflict would last several years, endangering David’s life and developing into a civil war that would destroy countless lives and divide a great kingdom.
How do you feel when you try to rescue a friend from his/her problems and you fail to make a difference? Do you think that maybe you didn’t try hard enough? Well, perhaps God doesn’t want the problem solved so fast or in the way you tried to fix it.
How do you feel when someone causes you problems, as Saul did when he ruined the good relationship that he and David used to have? If you’re like me, your prayer is, “God, you can see this horrid situation, so please take care of it. Either (1) change that person now, or (2) change that person two seconds from now, or (3) get that person out of my life!”
But the best answers to our prayers do not come quickly. Quick fixes are the easy way, the lazy way, the flesh-nature’s way. Short-cuts in the path to heaven do more harm than good.
When a God-given relationship turns sour (I am not speaking of relationships that God never wanted for us), God allows the suffering to continue for a while — not for the sake of pain (he surely isn’t a sadist, and he suffers when we suffer, far more than we do) — but for the sake of the other person’s journey and for the sake of our own purification. He wants to stretch us and expand our ability to love others in all circumstances.
When loving is easy, what merit is there in that? But when a person becomes difficult to love, that is when we become more like Jesus, who suffered out of love for you and me with great passion. How serious are you in your commitment to become more like Jesus? Thank God for his wisdom in protecting you from quick fixes!