I used to watch this show called Touched By An Angel. The concept of the show was that angels from Heaven played a more direct role in helping humans solve their problems. One episode of this show challenged the angels to help a group of people without revealing that they were angels, which is what the archangel Raphael decides to do in this story.
Raphael poses as a distant relative of Tobit’s family and offers to be Tobias’s traveling companion since he knows the way to get to Media. Tobit is more assured that Tobias will be safe, knowing that he’s traveling with someone the family can trust. The name that Raphael assumes, Azariah, means “God has helped,” which means that Sarah and Tobit will end up being saved, but not in the way that they expected.
You’d think it would’ve been easier if Raphael just healed Tobit’s eyes then and there and then went to Media to banish the demon Asmodeus, but if that happened, wouldn’t be a story. Help never comes in the ways that we expect. As we see in today’s passage, God had a bigger plan for Sarah, Tobit, and Tobias. He knew that Tobias was actually the right husband for Sarah, but Tobias has to journey to Media in order to meet Sarah. The only motivation that Tobias has for going to Media is to get his father’s money owed by a family friend. And the only way to keep Tobit from going to Media himself was to allow him to suffer blindness.
When our prayers are answered, they more often than not manifest in ways that we don’t expect. I never expected to move from New Jersey to California and eventually end up in Texas, but after ten years of living in Texas, I can’t imagine my life without the changes that I’ve experienced. The one time that my prayers ended up answered exactly as I asked them was when I asked God to allow me to have two dates with this guy I met one summer. I actually ended up disappointed because I wanted more than two dates, but the guy never called me after the second date.
I realize now that God has a bigger plan for me than what I can see. I may be single right now, but I’ve learned something from the comedy of errors that I call my love life. I learned to value myself and not depend on a guy for my own happiness. Would it be easier for God to just have me bump into my future soul mate like they do in romantic movies? Sure, but then I wouldn’t have a good story to tell. I wouldn’t learn anything by just getting what I asked for.
There’s a reason why some of our prayers go unanswered or don’t get answered in the way that we expect. Have you ever known a child who always got whatever he asked for and then threw a tantrum when he didn’t get what he wanted? What’s the word we usually use to describe such a child? Oh yeah. Spoiled!
God is not the kind of God who would spoil His children. Instead, He helps us through secondary causes and leads us on a journey that brings us to the last place that we expect. As it’s often said, God draws straight with crooked lines.
So don’t complain when God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you want Him to. Know that he is already sending people your way, your own personal angels who will guide you to what you actually need.
STUDY QUESTIONS: If you’ve ever had to work with kids (babysitting, teaching, being a mom), how do you deal with temper tantrums? How do you think that parallels our relationship with God? Contemplate a time when you feel like a prayer was answered exactly as you expected. How different was it when you had a prayer that felt unanswered but actually manifested in an unexpected way?