“Ask and you shall receive” I remember wanting a bicycle when I was a child. I didn’t know how to ride yet, but that didn’t matter to me. I’d figure it out somehow. Learning to ride a bike was far less intimidating to me than asking my parents to give me one, however. I was afraid they’d say “no.” I knew I’d have to ask in just the right way so that they’d be convinced I really needed a bike. I spent a lot of time fretting, procrastinating, and figuring out how to ask. Finally, I got up the nerve to launch the question to my folks. It worked, sort of. They didn’t say no, but they didn’t say yes, either. They said they’d think about it. Well, after a time, I got a bike, but not the brand-new, colorful banana seat, high handlebar one I saw in the store. One day my dad presented me with a sturdy, used bike with regular handlebars and seat. It was grass green. Ugh. My initial reaction to that bike was shameful. Not only was I ungrateful, but I even became angry at my parents for getting that one instead of the one I really wanted (and pompously felt I deserved). I’m embarrassed to admit that I wasn’t very nice to them that day, and for many days after I refused to so much as look at it. But my yearning to ride overran my displeasure with the bike. Since I had no choice — I certainly didn’t have the means to get my dream bike on my own — I decided to make the best of what I considered was a crummy situation. It didn’t take long for me to discover that the bike I’d been given was in truth perfect for me. Not the most agile kid, I struggled with learning how to ride it. I tried and tried, both with help and on my own, but just couldn’t get the knack. There were plenty of scrapes and dings (on both the bike and me) to drive home the point that giving a flashy new bike to someone who hadn’t yet acquired the skills would have been imprudent. There was another advantage too. The older bike had wider tires and was easier to balance than a new one. The ugly, old, green one was easier to learn to ride. Eventually, I got the hang of it. I started thinking that it wasn’t such a bad bike after all, even though it wasn’t as fancy as the bikes some of my neighborhood friends were riding. I stopped being mad at my folks for getting me the “wrong” bike and better appreciated the “right” bike for me. I got a bike, albeit not the bike I originally wanted, but the bike that was good for me to have. Why? Because I had the courage to ask. This is a very human example of the way we approach — or fail to approach — the heavenly Father for the desires of our hearts. We’re afraid to ask for what we want or need because we fear the answer will be “no.” Or, we worry that we’ll receive something we didn’t want or hadn’t bargained for. Sometimes, we halfheartedly ask because we doubt God’s goodness or capability to grant our request. What’s the use of asking when he’s not going to give us what we want, anyway? Too often, we give up on asking because the answer is too long in coming. It’s especially hard when we’re steeped in sorrow. Whether we sorrow over our own situation or the situation of someone we care for, we can become discouraged and reticent to ask — or keep asking — for the sorrow to be turned to joy. To ask in the first place, to believe in God’s power to provide for us, to continue asking even when all seems lost — all this requires courage. It’s not easy to heal from a devastating loss. At such a time, you can feel as though God has abandoned you. Maybe you, have wished to die. Hurt, anger, fear, and confusion can overwhelm you and lead you to distance yourself from God. This is exactly the point at which you need to turn toward God and ask him — perhaps many times over — to help you to trust in him.
Visit our Book Notes archive.
Copyright 2018 Marge Steinhage Fenelon Excerpt from 10 Promises of Jesus. Copyright 2018 Twenty-Third Publications; reprinted here with the kind permission of the publisher.
About the Author
Marge Steinhage Fenelon is a wife, mother, award-winning author and journalist, blogger, and popular speaker. She appears weekly on Relevant Radio's "Morning Air Show" and other Catholic radio shows. She blogs regularly for National Catholic Register and at MargeFenelon.com. She's author of the best-selling "Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena (Ave Maria Press, 2016) and many other books on Marian devotion and Catholic spirituality.