God, Disney World, and Unanswered Prayer

By Bindu Adai Mathew

Every year my company rewards its employees with a two night stay at 5 Star hotel and two tickets to any of the Universal or Disney Parks in Orlando. It’s one of my favorite company perks and always a good time to celebrate and relax. This past year’s trip was no exception. It was November, and November is typically a time in Florida where you can finally brag about living in Florida. After a rainy, hot, humid summer that often stretches well into mid-October, November is a reminder of why we all live here. The temperatures drop to the upper 70s and low 80s… the sunny is shining brightly… cool island breezes… aaaahhh… yes, life is good.

Except that Friday night at the Welcome reception one of my co-workers told me that the forecast was to be cold and rainy. I was aghast! What?! Nooooo! How could that be?! I almost laughed when she said temperatures were supposed to be in the upper 60s and low 70s! Cold?! Ha! I’m from Texas and while it rarely snows there, temperatures are only considered cold when it hits the 40s and 50s.  But rain… yes, that was going to definitely be a bummer since Disney’s Magic Kingdom is basically an outdoor park. Later that night, I told my 4 year old daughter, “Honey, we may not get to go to the park tomorrow because it’s supposed to be stormy and rainy.”  Her face immediately fell. I smiled and patted her hand, “You want to pray to God about it? He can stop the rain.” She nodded her head and together we said a short prayer.

The next morning I woke up to a very wet Saturday. Our hotel concierge advised us that the rain was supposed to let up around mid-morning so we decided to head out for breakfast and then to Disney. But an hour later the rain was still going strong and looked like it wasn’t stopping anytime soon. Disappointed, we decided to save our free passes for another day and drove around Orlando looking for an indoor park. Ava was understandably the most disappointed and turned to me with her sad, puppy dog eyes, “But mommy, we prayed. Why didn’t God stop the rain?”  I shook my head and shrugged. “I don’t know, baby, but when God doesn’t do what we ask, that means He’s going to do something better…” While I believed what I said, I, too, was disappointed that God hadn’t answered our prayers.

In the meantime, we decided to make a pit stop at a luxury theme hotel that we had heard a lot about and we spent the next hour exploring their Florida-themed atrium that resembled Key West, St. Augustine, and the Everglades. Before we left, the hotel concierge advised us that the rain had mostly lifted and that this was probably the best time to visit Disney as the lines wouldn’t be as long. I frowned as I glanced at my watch. Shorter lines, yes, but it was already past 1… I recalled the previous year how a posted 30 minute-wait time at Dumbo ended up being a two hour wait for a 2 minute ride. I sighed as I just knew that with half the day almost gone, we’d probably not be able to go on many of the rides. The previous year, we’d gone on less than half the rides available at the park even though we’d gotten there at 9am and stayed until 10pm. I resigned myself to the situation, trying to remember to be grateful that we were even here.

Eight hours later

We shuffled into our car, exhausted, and collapsed happily into our seats. Although it had been overcast, it had still been a great day. It had only drizzled twice, and only as we were leaving the park did the rain start coming down heavily again. But due to the morning rain, luckily for us, many other people had obviously cancelled their plans to visit the park so even though we only had a half day there, not only had we had a shorter wait time, but in the end, we probably went on more than twice as many rides.

I glanced at Ava, who sat quietly, probably from exhaustion, in her car and seat and stared out the window. “Ava, did you have a good time?”

She turned to me and smiled from ear to ear, “I did, mommy. It was a fun day!”

I recalled the mini kids roller coaster we went on five times, the spinning tea cups we rode on four times, and the countless other rides we never even touched the previous year. I then recalled what I had told her earlier that morning, and I smiled as a small light bulb went off in my head. “Ava, remember how we thought God didn’t answer us when we prayed that the rain would stop? See, if it hadn’t rained all morning, then we would have waited a long time in line and wouldn’t have ridden on all those rides. So it looked like God didn’t answer our prayers, but He did something better than what we had asked!”

I smiled to myself and said an internal thank you for the reminder that we shouldn’t fret when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the exact way we prayed then. We should always trust that He truly wants the best for us.

More than twice the rides in less than half the time. I love how God’s math works.

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