God teaches me things in some pretty strange ways, so it shouldn’t really surprise me that yesterday He used a chicken bone. You see, I made a statement to someone that God could do amazing things in our lives far beyond what we would ever ask for or imagine. This is a true statement and I believe it with all my heart. But the person was going through some hard times and so they asked me, “If God can do that, why hasn’t He?”
This was a really good question that deserved a really good answer. In fact, I started thinking that probably lots and lots of people have that question. “God can do anything, so why doesn’t he seem to be doing anything in my situation?”
An easy answer is “Patience.” While patience is super hard to actually practice (at least for me) it is equally easy to say. And it often brings little comfort to those who have been sinking for a while. So I didn’t want to throw out the patience answer. I really wanted something better.
I prayed about it and then moved the question to the back of my mind while I moved on with my day. At lunch, I reheated a chicken leg from the previous night’s dinner and had just sat down to enjoy it when the doorbell rang unexpectedly. I set my plate down on the end table next to the chair where I was sitting and went to the door.
When I returned, my chicken was gone. Eaten by my dog that needs some serious training. My first thought? “Ugg”
Next? “Stupid dog.” There was no great revelation until I went to bed. Then, I bumped into God.
“Let’s talk about the chicken,” He said.
You see, the dog wanted that chicken. He wanted it badly. And in his little dog mind, there was zero reason he shouldn’t have it. All that stood between him and a tasty meal was me. Why would I withhold something so magnificent from him?
And honestly, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with giving him chicken. But I knew that this chicken was on the bone and chicken bones are not good for dogs. In fact, they can be deadly. So I knew what he did not, what he could not.
Not because he isn’t smart but because he is a dog and his capacity for knowledge and reasoning is more limited than mine. No matter what dog school I sent him to – he would ever actually be able to understand. I could train him not to eat chicken but I could never explain to him why.
Then I got it. Not all, of it but at least a little hint at it. Let me start by saying I am not likening us to dogs. I am simply using that story because that is what God used to teach the lesson to me. But sometimes, we want things. Those things seem good to us and try as we might we cannot find anything wrong with them. And in fact, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with them.
Sometimes we pray and pray for those things. These things may be material but more often they are not. They are things like peace, direction, rescue, or just answers. And there is nothing wrong with those things or with asking for them. In fact, the Bible tells us to.
But sometimes there is a proverbial bone in what we want. We can’t see it because we are not all knowing, but God sees it because He is. He isn’t denying us our request because He is mean, or ignoring us. He is saying no because He knows what we do not. No matter how educated we are, no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, no matter how much Bible we know – we simply cannot understand.
Sometimes, buried deep within what looks and seems good to us – is a chicken bone. Maybe it is because we need to weep before we can truly appreciate laughter. Maybe it is because we need to master being alone before we can be together. Maybe it is because we need to be afraid so we can learn to be brave. Maybe we need to be poor to learn to be generous. I don’t know. That’s the whole point, we can’t know because we can’t see the bone beneath the beauty.
So….if you have been praying for something and begging for an answer but you feel unheard or forgotten; if you are questioning why a God who can do ANYTHING seems to be doing NOTHING maybe, just maybe, there is a chicken bone in your request.
Or maybe you just need to be patient.