Recently, I took my son in for his 18 month well-check at the pediatrician’s office. All was well until the doctor looked into his mouth and said, “Oh, yes, that pacifier needs to go for sure. It is moving his teeth!”
I blushed a little, feeling guilty. The doctor had mentioned that I should be working on taking his pacifier away from him at the 9 month visit and the 12 month visit. If my little guy had it his way, he would have his “nuk” (as we call it in our house) in his mouth 24/7. I had made a few feeble attempts to withhold the pacifier from my son at naps and nighttime over those intervening months, only to be met with considerable screaming and resistance from my otherwise even-tempered boy, so I shrugged and didn’t pursue it. “Some kids take a pacifier until they are over 2!” I had thought, and “maybe he will just give it up on his own. Who knows?”
But here was the proof, in the reproachful glance from my beloved pediatrician, that I had been taking the easy way out with my son. That pacifier needed to go.
There are so many different parenting methods, and I found the method that usually works best for me and my kids when having to change the “rules” of the house is to go “cold turkey” and never look back. It has served us well with potty training and sleeping, and so I mentally gritted my teeth and prepared to go “cold turkey” with my son and his pacifier.
As I expected, that night was a disastrous one. My son got himself extremely worked up as I tried to put him into his crib without a pacifier. I held him and offered him milk and rocked him and soothed him, but for a time, nothing seemed to work. The American Sign Language sign for “please” is made by rubbing your hand in a circular motion on your chest, and my son was signing over and over, “Please! Please! Please!” as I held him in the dark and his hot little tears splashed off his cheeks and onto my hands. Tears rose in my eyes as well. My heart was aching. I so badly wanted to give my son what he wanted. It would be so easy for me to go into the kitchen and grab him his favorite “nuk,” to make his tears stop and restore his happiness. But, I knew it would be bad for his mouth, and that, in the long run, I was doing a good thing for him, so I held firm and eventually he collapsed into sleep - without his pacifier.
That night was the first time in my life that I understood, in the tiniest fraction, how God must feel when we pray to Him, asking for things that He in His infinite wisdom knows are not good for us.
Maybe you’re like me, and it seems there is always a “big thing” you are requesting from God in prayer, over and over again. Maybe it’s for a relationship, a job, a baby, or a house. Maybe you are praying to forgive someone or to be forgiven yourself. Maybe you are shouting, “Please, God, Please! Please!” and it seems like He isn’t listening, because you don’t seem to get what you want, no matter how many times you ask.
In those moments, I imagine our heavenly Father as the parent that he is, holding you with all his power and might, tears rolling down his face as his heart goes out to you. God can do anything. It would be so easy for him to snap his fingers and give you what you desire, but he also can see all of time and eternity and knows what is best for you. He loves you enough to stand firm and do the right thing, even if it makes no sense to us.
God has never taken the easy way out. He has taken the hardest road, the one led to Calvary to die on a cross to take away your sins and mine. God’s loves us enough to withhold the thing we think is good for us, that we want so desperately. He knows that, for whatever reason, it would not lead us closer to him or help our faith. He instead lets us cry into his shoulder, soothing us with his promises:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” - Romans 8:28
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” - II Corinthians 12:7-9
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” - Matthew 7:9-11
The next time that you feel your prayers are going unanswered, remember that we are so blessed to be loved by a perfect Father, the King of the universe, whose love is so huge that, sometimes, he doesn’t pacify us - but has given us heaven for all eternity through his innocent suffering, death, and resurrection. All praise and glory to the best parent ever, our loving Lord Jesus Christ!