Happy Baby was really sick last month and had been waking up several times a night crying and coughing and congested and needing comfort.
On the evening of the 9th day of this, I fell into bed completely exhausted and tossed up a little prayer to God before falling asleep, “Lord, please don’t let my boy wake up tonight.”
HE WOKE UP.
Not once. But twice.
The next morning as I sleepily stumbled to start the day, I felt something in my spirit toward God that was a red flag. I needed to quiet my heart before Him and make things right. And as I did, He reminded me of something.
When I was a new mom and my life went from leisurely walks with the hubs, date nights, trips to the gym, a full 7 hours of sleep every night and basically doing whatever I pleased – whenever I pleased, to what felt like absolute chaos and disorder and a never-ending cycle of being awake, I remember praying to God so many times prayers like this –
“God, please make him STOP crying.”
“God, please just let him nap today.”
“God, please don’t let him poop out of his shorts because I forgot to bring a change of clothes.”
“God, please help him like this spinach puree.”
“God, please PLEASE HELP HIM SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT.”
Did God answer these prayers?
But more often than that, no.
And do you know what I did when those prayers were not answered?
I got angry at God.
I felt completely disillusioned to the powerful God I had grown up serving.
I mean, c’mon! If He can part the Red Sea and walk on water and raise people from the dead then HE CAN HELP MY BABY SLEEP.
Help ME to sleep.
But here is the problem with this way of thinking –
At its root, it is selfish.
Now hear my heart, I believe very strongly that God loves it when we bring our requests to Him – no matter what they are. Whether they are about my child’s nap schedule or poop schedule or palate. When my kids lose a toy that they love, I like to say to them, “God loves to hear from us. He knows where your toy is. Let’s give this situation to Him.”
These prayers, however, can hinder our relationship with God when He responds different than what we hoped for and we grow disappointed or, even worse – bitter.
We cannot fall into the trap of thinking that God is a magic genie and that we are entitled to receive every little thing we ask for.
Because then we forget that HE IS GOD.
We forget that He loves us and that He is good.
We forget that His ways are simply not ours.
Maybe our child not napping one day isn’t going to be a giant part of the Lord’s plan for our lives, but our attitude and how we handle it most certainly is.
Ultimately, God is after our hearts – our completely surrendered, humble, all-trusting hearts.
What I should have prayed was, “Lord, please help my boy to sleep through the night tonight, but even if you don’t, I know that you still love me and know what’s best for me. I know that your strength alone will carry me through the evening to serve my family well. I am yours. Your will be done. Amen.”
And when my boys and I pray for lost toys in the house, I try to follow up with a little instruction, “God knows where your toy is, but we must remember that sometimes He says YES and answers our prayers right away, sometimes He says no, and sometimes He says wait. We have to trust that He knows what He’s doing with this request.”
Our precious Lord wants us to place our ENTIRE lives in His hands, to cease fussing about all the things we think we are entitled to right this second, and to have eyes of faith to see the bigger picture of His love and perfect plan for us.
Song of Solomon, which is a beautiful allegory of how much God cares for us, says in 2:4 that, “His banner over me is love.”
So when you are looking in the mirror and those giant dark circles under your eyes are inspiring you to shake a fist at God for not answering your prayer for sleep, check the mirror again.
You will see a big, giant banner flowing over your bed-head that says, “I love you, my precious child! I know what’s best for you! My strength is yours in weakness. Now let me show you how I am going to provide for your every need today. Trust me.” <3