Have you ever experienced kicking or banging a vending machine out of frustration because the product you paid for didn’t come out as it was supposed to?
I almost broke my toe after kicking one.
I just finished eating a club sandwich at the gate where I was waiting for my flight. It was a small airport, and it was packed with people. I was thirsty so I looked over to see if there was a vending machine nearby and luckily, it was just a few meters away, close enough to still supervise my luggage left on my seat.
You see, my flight had been delayed and I was tired, so I didn’t really want to give up where I was sitting.
I walked over to the vending machine, selected a bottled water, and paid for it. When my water didn’t come out as it was supposed to, I decided to wait for a few seconds, thinking that it would come out eventually—but it didn’t. I banged the machine a little bit. Maybe it just needed a little nudge. Still no bottled water.
I looked around to see if there was someone in line behind me before giving it a harder nudge.
Because I was thirsty, I selected another bottled water and paid for it. I was really counting on it since I had already paid twice but I guess I wasn’t so lucky that day. I still didn’t get my water. Frustrated and thirsty, I kicked the vending machine hard, not realizing that I was wearing open-toed shoes.
It hurt really bad, but I managed to return to my seat, limping and feeling defeated. I kept thinking, “But I followed the instructions and paid for it. TWICE.”
I was reminded of this incident months later as I sat pondering about why the Lord was taking so long to give me the blessing that I desired the most. I did an inventory of the things that I thought I needed to do to deserve such a blessing and realized that I had checked each item off the list. I had been faithful, paid my tithes and offerings, served others, treated people around me with kindness and respect, and many other good deeds that I knew I ought to do.
With my thoughts directed to God, I reasoned, “I already paid my dues. I already did everything to measure up to your expectations. Where’s my blessing?”
Do you sometimes feel the same? As though God is indebted to you because you followed His commandments and consider it paying your dues for the blessings you’ve been praying for? Do you sometimes feel that you’ve done everything you’re supposed to do and yet heaven seems so distant? Do you sometimes wonder if God answers prayers?
As I was mentally wrestling with my faith and logical reasoning, a very distinct thought came to mind, “God is not a vending machine.” You see, vending machines are pretty simple. You pay the required amount and the goods you selected come out. I realized that God doesn’t operate that way.
Because God answers our prayers exactly how and when He means to. He sees the end from the beginning so He knows the blessings that we need to overcome our trials and grow to our fullest potential.
From the outpouring of blessings that I’ve received from God in my life, I’ve rarely received exactly what I’ve prayed for at the time I thought I needed those blessings the most. Sometimes, I’ve received something totally different, not knowing the wisdom behind it, only to realize later that it’s exactly the blessing that I needed.
Other times, He blessed me with exactly what I prayed for, not in the way that I had hoped, but in a way that God saw fit for me.
Some blessings are still pending. And even though sometimes I still find myself echoing my desperate reasoning about already paying my dues, I trust that He can grant me the blessings that I prayed for in His own due time. And if He doesn’t, I find comfort that “all things [are being] done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things” (2 Nephi 2:24).
Of course, it is easier said than done. Who enjoys waiting anyway? Especially when you don’t know when you’re going to receive what you’re waiting for. Even more so when you’re not even sure that you’re going to receive it.
It can be hard. Waiting can sometimes make us feel weary and doubtful but we can find comfort that God answers our prayers. He is a God of promises and He always keeps His word.
In Doctrine & Covenants, we read, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise”. This scripture verse shows a part of God’s nature—that He is a just God. And when we continue with our efforts to obey His commandments, we can hold on to His promise that He will bless us with eternal and temporal gifts that He sees fit for us, in His own time.
And while we wait for the blessings we earnestly seek, we can reflect on the many gifts that we receive from Him each day—gifts that are not contingent upon our obedience to His commandments, gifts that He gives us because of His great love for us.
He loves you. He knows you. He hears your silent petitions and cries for relief. He knows the righteous desires of your heart. And during your season of waiting, you can find strength and hope in Him who has nothing but love, even the grandest love known to man, for you. Because you are His child and you are precious to Him.
For more related content, read Why God Makes Us Wait For Blessings.