Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” —Matthew 20:20-21
I can relate to this mother. I’m guessing she thought her sons were the best in the world, just like I think my two daughters are the best in the world. If Jesus were around today, I’m sure I would be asking favors for my girls (although I don’t think I would do it in front of other parents!). Please let them always have good health, Jesus. Please protect them from the mean kids in middle school. Please don’t let them get addicted to phones, social media, drugs, or alcohol. Please let them get into the best college they might want to attend.
Is it wrong for me to ask for these things? Was it wrong for James’ and John’s mother to request a special place for her sons? I don’t think Jesus has a problem with us asking for things for ourselves and our loved ones. However, this story points out that we don’t always understand what is best from God’s wider perspective. We can ask for whatever we want, but that doesn’t mean that’s what is best for us. If my girls don’t always have good health, they might find unexpected gifts in living with illnesses or disabilities. If they don’t get into their top college, they may discover there’s a place that’s better for them. The invitation to us is to remember in our asking that we may not know the whole story. Our will may not be God’s will, and if that is the case, God has something even better in mind for us. God will be with us even if God’s will isn’t done.
For reflection: When have you prayed or yearned for something that you didn’t get, and it turned out to be for the best?
To Pray: Jesus, help me see things from your perspective and trust that you will give me what I need, even if I don’t understand what that is right now.