Ask and you shall receive

A woman asks: “Please, God, cure me of my cancer.” In dealing with her illness, she has accepted her mortality. She comes to cherish each moment she has. Her relationship with her husband becomes stronger; she grows closer to her children, especially one daughter from whom she had become increasingly distant. The disease runs its course – but she learns to live her life to the full and she spends every moment to the end in the embrace of her loving family. And it is that love that she leaves behind. She asks – and she receives insight, understanding and peace.

A teenager seeks the answer to the question every teenager asks: “What am I supposed to do with my life?” He goes about his teen years in all their confusions and disappointments, their triumphs and discoveries; he realizes that he is not a child anymore and not the centre of the world; he learns how to be responsible and how to care about people other than himself and about things bigger than his own wants. Working at the SVP Sunshine House for kids at risk proves to be a life-changing experience for him. He decides to major in social work in college. Not much money, but its work that makes a difference. He seeks – and finds fulfilment in helping families keep it together.

Scared to death, she knocks on the door. Life will change when that door opens: a new career, perhaps; the beginning of a life of service in a religious community, maybe; an unexpected call to care for a desperately ill parent; meeting her future in-laws for the first time. But she’s ready. She’s confident in her skills, in her faith; the love that has enveloped her enables her to envelope others. She knocks – and whatever is on the other side of the door, she is confident God’s grace will enable her to walk through.

Those who ask, receive, Jesus says; those who seek, find; those who knock, will find their way through – that often seems disingenuous to us, who have offered countless prayers that we think have gone unanswered. But often our search brings us to something we do not expect; what we receive is quite different from what we ask for. We often approach prayer as trying to wring gifts from an unwilling God; in fact, we come before a God who knows our needs better than we do ourselves. That’s the disciple’s faith: to trust enough to continue to act in the spirit of Jesus’ servanthood, to continue to seek God in hidden places with the assurance that, in someone or something, we will find him.