By Dr. Harold Sala

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV

Your son has one more big game. If he plays well, he is almost certain to be voted the MVP, which will impress the athletic committee, which will extend the offer of a large scholarship. So you pray, “God, let him do well.” “Isn’t there something in the Bible that I could use for a little leverage with God?” you ask yourself as you begin thumbing through the pages of the New Testament.

There it is–Romans 8:28, underlined in ink, something you did years ago. You read, “For we know that all things work together for good to those who love God…” What could be better than to win big and to bag a scholarship at the same time.  “Yes, that’s it!” you think.  “OK, God,” you say, “Here’s the promise and there’s my boy.  Please do your stuff!”

The first quarter goes pretty well, and then in the second quarter your son goes for the rebound, gets shoved and then comes down hard on his ankle. He rolls to the floor, grimacing with pain. Your stomach knots as you think of both the pain he is in and the end of your dream.

As you see him limp off the court, you mutter, “God, you sure let me down on that one!” So what is wrong? Was someone else praying harder than you, and that person was the one who got an answer? Or did you stop short of reading the whole promise? “Huh,” you say, “was there more that I missed?”

That promise in Romans 8:28 has two conditions attached: One is that you love God and the second, which is usually neglected, is this: “and are called according to His purpose.”

God’s purposes are often different from ours in that He has a plan which we often overlook. Our view is limited; His is inclusive. Ours sees only the reward of the moment; His sees the reward of a lifetime. Most of the most significant lessons of life are learned not through success, but through failure, through difficulty and through pain.

Long ago the writer of Proverbs said, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV).

Lest I leave you with the impression that you shouldn’t reinforce your prayers with what Scripture says, I need to leave you with a closing thought or two. First, go right to Scripture and remind God of what He has promised to do. Jesus quoted Scripture repeatedly in His encounter with the tempter. In His prayers, He acknowledged God as being sovereign, a pattern for us to follow as well.

But when you pray, ask God to accomplish His will and purpose. Yes, it’s OK to pray, “Lord, help my son to do His very best, to play well. Grant that the referees will call the game fairly and, please, Lord, guide Him into your complete and perfect will.”

God does have a will for His children, and with that will comes a purpose for our lives which goes far beyond the plans of a parent to help his child get the scholarship and the best place at life’s table.

Make a note of Proverbs 3:5-6 in your Bible and mark those words. Better yet, commit them to memory. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Someday you will look back and see the sure hand of God guiding your life, opening doors (which you thought was just good luck or your ingenuity), directing you into a purpose which He determined was far better than anything you had in mind.

Resource reading: Psalm 32