I believe God hears and answers prayers. I firmly believe this and can’t be swayed. However, the answer may not come as expected. Sometimes we get those sweet tender mercies. And sometimes we are asked to “cowboy up.” To cowboy up is a phrase we use a lot in Wyoming. It means to “make a determined effort to overcome a formidable obstacle” (Google Dictionary). When the answer comes as the latter, we can still take comfort and learn a couple of things.
A little background, two years ago I had to do a difficult task. It wasn’t a surprise, I knew about it for two years. I could see it coming on the calendar. With its approach I grew anxious and worried and stewed over worst case scenarios. Of course I blogged about it and you can read about it here. But this post isn’t really about that other than to say I recognized the tender mercy the Lord extended.
Fast forward to this year. The task was again approaching. This time however, I did not spend as much time stewing. Not until the actual day of the event did I even worry. I followed the same plan as I did two years ago expecting the same outcome and…
… the worst case scenario happened. My plan did not work this year. Was I less faithful than I was two years ago? Did something not line up? Was I being punished?
Maybe? No, I followed the same formula to a T. No, I was not being punished.
So what happened?
Here are a couple of lessons I learned from my experience this year.
1) Tender mercies are extended to us to show us we are loved. Two years ago I needed that. I was struggling and I needed a life-line. God sent me what I needed that year to accomplish my task. Without that particular tender mercy I may not have continued and I may not have had the courage to show up for the task this year. Tender mercies are what I need at the time to remind me of His love.
2) If every prayer was answered with a tender mercy our faith would be weak. It sounds weird but if every prayer was answered the way we wanted at the time we wanted why would we ever stray? Our choices would be limited because a lot of us would choose the safe route. For some of us, we are striving to be Christlike or true Christians. In order to do this we emulate the Savior. I don’t think there is a person who could reasonably argue that Jesus had an easy walk during mortality. He was ridiculed, betrayed, abused, and put to death. His life was hard. If I am going to be like Him then I need to be able to do hard things, too. These are times when I am asked to “cowboy up.” Difficult things are needed to show my love for Him.
As much as I would love to always have a tender mercy to answer my prayer I know a “cowboy up” answer shows I have earned His trust. He knows I can accomplish this. I won’t be alone, He will be with me every step of the way but I need to show Him I am not a fair weather friend.
So yes, I believe the Lord answers my prayers.