"Please God. Won't you please just heal this eye so that it's all better in the morning?"
It was the wee hours of the night, and the subtle pain I had felt in my eye the evening before was definitely worse. I had known it felt like a stye coming on but had desperately hoped I was wrong. Surely, surely God didn't want me to have a stye in my eye. I had an invitation to a quilting the next day!
This whole story may seem silly to you. A stye, a quilting and prayer? I mean, really.
You have to understand that I love to quilt. From as far back as I can remember, my mom quilted quilts for other people. As a little girl, I remember sitting with her at the quilt. She would give me a needle and a thread with no knot tied in the end and I would happily make stitches and pull them all the way through. Once, someone even put one of my doll quilts in the frame and let me "quilt". There's a picture in the family album to prove it. Sitting at a quilt, and stitching away, is one of the most enjoyable and therapeutic things in the world for me.
"I know you can heal eyes, God. Won't you please just heal it? Whatever you see is best God but I would really appreciate it if you would heal it."
Even in the wee hours I had the sense to add the 'not my will but yours' part of the prayer. I had so been looking forward to going to that quilting but I realized that God knew that. And he knew a lot more about everything else and I realized that too.
I woke up in the morning to a fat eye and a sinking heart. I shot my friend a text saying I would see how it went and between fixing school lunches and urging people to keep moving, I retreated to my room for a quiet moment with God. I wanted to just sit on my bed and cry.
Ok, I did cry.
Then, as I prayed, something prompted me to say Thank You. Thank you? How do you say, "Thank you for this stye in my eye" when the very last thing you're feeling is gratefulness? Is it even worth saying the words when that's all they are, no true feeling behind them?
But I did. I said the words. And as I opened my mouth and said, "Thank you for this stye in my eye" I added something like "Because it gives you a bigger opportunity to show yourself strong and receive the glory." As the words came out, I suddenly realized this was more about me changing my attitude than anything else and I was amazed to feel a twinge of excitement rise up inside of me. How would He do it? What would bring Him the most glory?
I should explain that I can't really take the credit here. Many moons ago a speaker sowed the seeds in my mind and that morning they brought forth fruit. As clear as day, I can remember this speaker telling the story of Lazarus and how Jesus waiting, not going to him right away, created an opportunity for God to receive more glory by raising Lazarus from the dead, than if He had gone right away and just healed him.
God longs to show himself strong on our behalf but too often we're so busy trying to fix everything that we don't even give Him a chance. Don't waste good problems, the speaker said! Thank God for them and stand back to see how He will show Himself strong.
My eye was not miraculously healed after I said thank you. It did feel enough better that I was able to go to the quilting and have a good day. But my outlook on life, and my attitude about the stye in my eye was healed.
When I said Thank You, it was no longer about how things had to work out in order for me to be happy. It was about realizing that God had a bigger picture here and the stye in my eye was part of it. When I said, "Thank you God for this. Do your thing and be glorified," it allowed Him to do just that. And the main place that He did it was in my heart.