An Encouragement to Wait, from Elizabeth Rice Handford. Have you ever suddenly awakened in the night and remembered with shame something you’d done years before, something you’d forgotten all about? That happened to me the other night.

To explain: I am a child of the 1930’s depression, when one-fourth of all Americans were out of a job, and many more earning barely enough to keep food on the table. I remember men selling pencils on the streets for a nickle, people knocking on our door begging for something to eat, Christians at church tearfully asking for prayer for a job.

The church Daddy pastored was in the poorest section of Dallas. Our only income came from the “love offerings” of our impoverished church members. My dear mother coped valiantly to feed our family and whoever else unexpectedly showed up at our table. She would fry salmon patties, mixing a can of inexpensive salmon with an egg and an onion and enough bread crumbs to make servings for ten. Or she would take a link of bologna or a can of SPAM, chop it into small pieces and serve it in white sauce on toast for a meal for our big family.

And at one of those lovingly-planned meager meals I, maybe eight years old at the time, had the gall to say somethng like, “Well, Mother, this sure isn’t very much of a meal.”

Mother should have sent me to my room with a promise of no supper. Instead, with tears in her eyes she simply said, “But I have a very special surprise for you—I have vanilla ice cream for dessert!” And it was a special, wonderful surprise. We had only an ice box, not a refrigerator with a freezer, so ice cream was a rare treat.

I share this humiliating memory because you may need the reminder, as I do, that some of God’s sweetest surprises are still ahead.

I know why God brought to my mind this embarrassing childhood incident. I have been feeling a little disappointed with God Oh, don’t misunderstand, I am the grateful recipient of His constant care, His unfailing supply, day after day, year after year. My God has been supremely generous with me all my life. But this is one important thing God has not given me, something I feel I desperately need. When He is so generous with me in so many, many ways, why doesn’t He, in His power and authority, give me this?

That’s when I remembered my mother’s response to my arrogant complaint: “I have a very special surprise for you—I have ice cream for dessert!”

Is that God’s answer to my selfish complaint? “I have a very, very special surprise for you, and you’ll love it, but you’ll have to wait for it.” In fact, God has clear instructions for me:

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27:14

So I must wait for God to do, in His good time, exactly what He knows will satisfy the longings of my heart. Will it be what I’ve been asking for? Not necessarily, because He knows my heart better than I do. Some day I will thank Him because He gave me what I really needed, not what I asked for. His plan for me really will meet every desire of my heart. “Again, I say, wait on the Lord.”

When I have the courage to say, “God, I want your will, not mine,” my heart will be strengthened. Then I can wait patiently. And whatever His will is in this specific matter, it will be more wonderful even than home-churned vanilla ice cream!