Spring is in full bloom where I live, and a chorus of various birds seems to fill the trees of my yard as robins, wrens, sparrows and more begin their annual mating ritual. I see feathered couples hopping about on various limbs as they select just the right spot for a nest. Next these earnest flyers carry twigs and leaves for days, constructing the ideal home for hatchlings.
And then I come along. “Shoo, shoo,” I say. I block their efforts. I stuff unfriendly wire and aluminum foil into a popular sconce hanging on the patio. I place a shiny CD in the forks of tree branches. I try to make each spot as unwelcome as possible.
To anyone looking on, I appear to despise birds. But, in fact, I adore birds. The missing information from this otherwise joyful scene is that I have a cat. And it’s not just any cat. It’s a Chartreux. Chosen from a box of free kittens years ago, we picked this charcoal gray male for his soft fur. What we didn’t realize until we were watching Cats 101 (and kudos to my husband for watching it with me!) is that this is a breed developed by monks in France to be champion mousers.
Of course nobody sent our cat a memo to limit his hunting to mice. Like a deadly robot wired to shoot anything that moves, this cat is also expert at hunting snakes, lizards, frogs, insects, and you guessed it—birds. If we were zoned for livestock he’d probably drag a goat through the doggie door.
Too many times I’ve watched fledgling flyers land right as his feet and get gobbled up. My husband has saved many a bird from this cat’s mouth, including a fast-flying hummingbird.
So every Spring, I begin the task of discouraging sweet little chirpers from laying eggs in this vicinity. They may be puzzled, even frustrated with my hindering of their best laid plans, pun intended. But they simply don’t know what I know.
And this brings us to our prayers. How many times have you prayed for something you were absolutely sure was right, but God was silent? Or perhaps he even allowed an obstacle to prevent the choice you wanted. Either way, you just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t on board. It reminds me of the saying that God would surely help us if only he had all the facts!
We simply can’t see around the corner or into the future. But God can. And so often when we beg for what seems the absolute right answer, we are thwarted. We want what we want, and can’t imagine why God would have other ideas.
And yet, with time, we see. That job would have been a disaster—the company went belly up two years later. That perfect spouse turned out to have serious anger issues. That new house would have sent you into debt. That vacation would have pulled you away from a family emergency. Over and over we see that what initially looks like God being unfair, actually rescued us.
Patricia Holland once said, “I have discovered that the Lord’s ‘no’s’ are preludes to an even greater ‘yes.’” So often we must simply wait, and see what the Lord has in mind. Quite possibly it’s something far better than you were praying for. Or it may even be that we’ll get what we want, but the timing isn’t right yet. It’s hard to summon faith, but it’s essential if we are to become a Godly people.
Like garden birds, we only feel impelled to build a nest. But if we put down the twigs and trust in the Lord, we’ll eventually see God’s blessings and incredible caretaking of our lives. Elder Richard G. Scott said these are the moments when we need to stop asking “Why me?” and ask four other things instead: What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? And How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial?
A big part of overcoming our disappointment is consciously trusting that the Lord loves us and wants our happiness in this life and the next. If he has said no, it’s because it will not lead to either of those outcomes.
Sometimes God approves of our desires, but other things have to happen first. Or we have to demonstrate gratitude for what we already have. Or we have preparations to make—perhaps emotional growth to work on—before our desire would be a good fit in our life. We can ask, “What lack I yet?” and listen for the answer to that question. Again, faith and trust must be exercised.
It’s so easy to say “Thy will be done” when our fondest dreams aren’t on the line. But when we want a wayward child to return, or to have children in the first place, or for someone to join the church—all good goals—we have a hard time believing that God’s will is to delay this obviously wonderful blessing. And yet, we all know dozens of people who can testify that God’s delayed timing was right, that they simply didn’t know what God knew.
Elder Robert D. Hales wrote, “In my life I have learned that sometimes I do not receive an answer to a prayer because the Lord knows I am not ready. When He does answer, it is often ‘here a little and there a little’ because that is all that I can bear or all I am willing to do.” What a humble admission from an apostle! And if the Lord makes an apostle wait and grow, surely we cannot complain that we must wait and grow as well.
I cherish the little birds that fill my treetops and I truly hope they will find safe nesting spots. Meanwhile, I will think of their babies and do all I can to save their families instead of their homes. And I may wonder what God knows that I don’t, but one thing is certain: He’ll be right.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.