You ask and you do not receive

Since March 2020, I’ve been asking, “When will it be time for me to be with my cherished family?” Before covid, I thought that all that was needed was an adequate budget and sufficient vacation time. All I needed to do was buy a ticket and fly home. After all, isn’t that how the world works?

But then the world was flipped. I know that it is different for everyone. But for me,

  • plans to be home for the awarding of Colleen’s master’s degree were scuttled
  • plans for a mid-term home assignment were also set aside

And I see others with their family – in person or on social media. And it causes inward pain.

“When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.” John Fawcett, 1782

And then I struggle to lift my eyes back to Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith. Can I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and what He has asked of me?

Are you, like me, asking and not receiving, because we are both too quick to tell God what a good answer looks like?

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? ESV James 4: 1 – 5

Is my demanding on being “with my family” too literal? Can we only be “with someone” when we are immediately beside them? Do I ask wrongly, seeking my own interests, instead of being joyously faithful right where the Lord has placed me?

What if God is answering my prayers right in my midst and I nearly miss it in my insisting that He answers the way I want him to?

  • What about those precious 30-second Signal videos of our granddaughter talking to herself after we’ve hung up from our call? Watching her step across her scramble of toys, mumbling, “EE. Pop Pop. EE” and realizing that she is still thinking of GranEE and PopPop, even when the call is over.
  • What about those Hey Mom Calls of “Do you know if there are any puzzles in the house?” after a big snowstorm or “How do I know when my starter (sourdough) is ready?”
  • Or the delight of ordering summer-blooming flower bulbs for the one who has a new home, even though I can’t be there to play in the dirt with her?
  • Or all those weekly adventure hikes on the PCN (Park Connector Network) in Singapore with my one family member I do get to see daily (Au) as we slowly check off “to-dos” together, like hiking the Coast to Coast Trail, or climbing to the peaks of SG’s highest summits (Hint: Don’t ask how high!), or starting an ever-ambitious bucket list of visiting every (“Honey, do you really mean every?”) hawker center officially maintained across the island?

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. ESV James 4: 6 – 10

Thank you, Lord, for opportunities to recognize my own double-mindedness, for times to be wretched and mourn and weep. We draw near to you and humble ourselves. We await your timing and your perfect answers. Until then, we labor faithfully and in your strength, for your name’s sake and kingdom’s glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

Recently, I discovered these two additional verses:

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way
While each in expectation lives
And longs to see the day

From sorrow, toil, and pain
And sin, we shall be free
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity


4 thoughts on “You ask and you do not receive”

  1. Dearest Eunice (and Au),
    You are sorely missed but not forgotten. Oh, I have gotten a taste of what you are going through and I am only a 3 hour drive from our precious and dear shared grandchild. Thank you so much for sharing your wrestle with God right here on your blog. I am greatly encouraged by your words, the Word of God, and the words of the poet. “Thy will be done,” has been upon our lips so often these days. I too am blessed to have the modern technology of video calls.
    Oh King of the Universe, thank you for Eunice and Au, how you are shaping them and molding them into becoming more like Jesus as they become more and more themselves. Two of Your shining ones in a land far away, in Singapore! Be with them as they continue to press on. Learning to be grateful for what they have and waiting on your timing for a glorious reunion with their dear ones. We pray in Your Name. Amen.

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