To try to pray is to pray. You can't fail at it. It's the only human endeavor I can think of where trying is doing.
- Rick Hamlin
I’ve been grappling with a big problem lately, one that doesn’t seem solvable. Then this week, after a series of annoying and expensive household crises, the toilet lid broke. I bought a new one, and when I went to install it discovered that the plastic screws were designed for newer toilets; the ceramic on our 1933-era model was too thick.
Aggravated, I had to go out and buy another toilet seat (because you can’t exactly return a used one). I spoke with the man in the hardware store, making it clear that I needed a lid with long screws. He gave me what he had, but neither of us was certain it would work.
Home again, I unwrapped my package. Lord, I prayed, I’ve got enough on my mind right now. Could we just make this one thing easy? The screws were long enough–hurrah! But then I discovered that the nuts to go with them had plastic gripper tabs that wedged against the bottom of the toilet, and because of the shape of our antique bowl, I couldn’t turn the nuts to attach them to the screws. I tried the nuts from the first toilet seat, but of course they didn’t fit.
Now triply frustrated, I took a break to have a cup of tea. Why do things have to be so stupidly hard, Lord? I whined. I reminded myself that as problems go, this one was merely not-in-my-budget and tedious: Millions of people don’t have toilets, don’t have running water. Sighing, I went into the bathroom for a third time, and stared dumbly.
And then I got it: I’d been assuming that I had to turn the nuts onto the screws. But it was just as possible to hold the nut in place and use a screwdriver to turn the screw into it. It’s amazing how many problems are simple when you look at them a different way. The words of Isaiah 55:8 popped into my mind, “ 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.”
As I ran to get a screwdriver I tossed up a prayer of thanks. Once again I’d learned that just because we can’t see a solution doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.