I'll be the first to admit that my life is pretty blessed. If I didn't believe in divine providence, I might even describe myself as "lucky". The past ten years of my life have been pretty darn great, and I would be the world's biggest ingrate to complain about anything, really.
The problem with this is that I start getting ridiculously optimistic about everything. When people do things or try things and fail, I will always think that I'll be different. I went on a blind date awhile ago, actually thinking, "It can't possibly be as bad as all that!" Well, surprise! It was. Still, I chalk it up to experience and move on.
Things that I pray for usually happen, too. I'm not saying I'm ever-so-holy and have the secret to prayer or anything. I'm just stating what I know: for whatever reason, God generally answers my prayers in amazing ways. So when I pray for my friends and family, I naturally assume that things will all work out how I think they should. Last night, however, I got the startling realization that, as the old song says, "it ain't necessarily so".
We in my Sunday school class have been praying for one of our own brothers. He had a trial at court yesterday, and instead of turning out how we'd hoped, he's been sentenced to two years of incarceration. When I heard this, I literally could not believe it. I sat there staring and shaking my head. "This isn't right," my brain was thinking. I simply could not compute that something like this would happen...hadn't I been praying?!
Of course, I had. We had all been praying. But no matter what, God is still God. He knows what He's doing, and we must trust this above all. Perhaps our brother can do more good for the Kingdom while he is inside the walls of prison, I don't know. That's where he was first touched by God's love and mercy, so maybe it's now his job to bring it to others. Perhaps this is just earthly consequences for earthly screw-ups. Again, I don't know. I don't need to know.
What I do need to do...I assume we will be able to visit him, bring cookies and brownies and books and smiles and whatnot. It might be hard to visit very often because of course he has family and girlfriend and all that will have first priority. But what I will certainly not do is stop praying. Never, ever stop praying.
Ephesians 6 says "Pray in the spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."