An Unanswered Prayer

An old Garth Brooks song contains the line, “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” This sentence has played over and over in my mind as I’ve thought about an experience my son Preston shared with us in our “home church” this past Sunday.
Preston is a student at BYU-Idaho, where he is studying agricultural business. At 25, he is a little older than most college juniors. Right after high school he went through some bumps in his life, but for the past four years he has been working to get his life back on track—both temporally and spiritually.
As part of Preston’s course of study, he is required to do an internship. About a year ago he mapped out his graduation plan. On it he scheduled his internship for the spring semester of this year, which started this week. Because his degree is an agricultural one, he wanted to intern with a large agricultural producer. His plan would allow him to do his internship from April to September, the main production season for Ag. Additionally, the internships he was looking at were paid, and he figured he would be able to earn enough money that he could complete his education without having to take a semester off to work. His plan seemed ideal.

Preston spent the past six months researching internship opportunities, getting recommendations from professors, attending job fairs, and sending out resumes. I helped Preston with his resumes and cover letters and could see he was a perfect fit for most of the internships for which he was applying.
Halfway through last semester, covid-19 hit. The university shut down for a few days to give the professors time to adjust their classes and then announced that classes for that semester would all be completed online. A few weeks later it announced that all the classes for the following semester would be taught online as well. Preston does not enjoy online classes, so he was glad he was planning an internship for the following semester. However, when it came time to register for classes for the next semester, he had not yet been offered an internship. He debated what to do and decided he better go ahead and register as a backup. He went over his graduation plan and found classes he needed that were being offered the next semester and signed up for them. He figured he could always go back to his original plan and drop the classes when he got an internship. But the semester ended, and no offer had come.
Preston had one week off between semesters. That was last week. He said at the beginning of the week he felt very discouraged and frustrated. His plan had seemed ideal both educationally and financially, but here he was with no internship, living back at home, and with a whole semester of online classes ahead of him. He had worked hard to plan out his educational path, had prayed for guidance and help, and now wondered why he wasn’t being “blessed.”
As the week passed, Preston received several notices from companies to whom he had applied saying due to covid-19, all internships were being cancelled. With those messages, his perspective changed. He realized that had he been offered an internship, he would not have registered for classes. Then the internship would have been cancelled, and he would have been left scrambling at the last minute, trying to get registered into whatever classes he could find. Instead, he was already registered in classes he knew would help him towards his degree. He also realized that by living at home for a semester, he would save the cost of housing, food, and other living expenses, which would about make up for the income he’d planned on getting from an internship. And as an added bonus, he’d received several calls from people offering him odd jobs he could work in around his online classes. He now recognizes that what seemed to him to be “unanswered prayers,” was in reality God’s hand helping him and guiding him into the path that would be best given the current circumstances.
I think there are a lot of “unanswered prayers” going on right now--lot of plans which have been suddenly changed and a lot of lives that have been interrupted. Maybe like Preston, a change of perspective will help people see God’s hand in it all. Maybe a change of perspective will help them see that their prayers weren’t unanswered after all.


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