An Unwanted but Perfect Gift

by Janet Holm McHenry

It was a lousy parting gift for the coming year.

The pink slip indicated that I would be laid off. The school district in which I had taught four years had issued over 30 layoff notices for teachers in a hard season of budget shortfall . . . and I was close to the bottom in terms of seniority.

“Save my job, Lord!” I prayed every day.

And though I made routine appeals, they had no effect . . . .and I headed into summer without a job for the fall.

Then one week before school started, I learned not just one, but TWO local English teachers had decided to retire in the school district right in my hometown. I got the temporary long-term sub job and a couple months later, the permanent position.

With the job I several bonus gifts fell my way:

  • I could shift from teaching elementary school to teaching secondary English, which was what my desire was four years earlier when I started teaching.
  • I no longer had a half-hour commute each day of the week. My “commute” took me just ninety seconds.
  • My new job allowed me to teach in my two oldest children’s school . . . with my younger two on the adjacent school campus.
  • I received a significant pay increase by shifting from one school district to another.
  • I collected unemployment benefits all summer, something teachers otherwise cannot do.

I could never have imagined that losing my job was the best gift ever. God aligned a much better job situation with the needs of my family. I was thankful then and even still now. In perspective now, I wish I had aligned my heart with that of my Lord by praying as Jesus did.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He knew he would be arrested, convicted of unjust charges, tortured, and crucified on a cross. So, when he prayed, he asked his heavenly Father that if it was possible, that the responsibility for taking on the world’s sin be taken away from him. On the other hand, he willingly submitted himself to God’s perfect will.

Twenty years ago in Daily PrayerWalk, I coined the term “the two-sided coin prayer”—the best possible prayer that we today can pray. We say that a coin has opposite sides—a head’s side and a tail’s side. Similarly, we can pray a paradoxical kind of prayer as the best possible human prayer. We can lay out our very personal desires and then pray for his will to be done in that matter. We offer up our needs, wishes, and wants to God . . . and let him do his perfect will through us. In Jan Karon’s Mitford novels, character Father Tim says that’s the perfect prayer: “Not my will but yours be done.”

And that is how I now pray.

Going a little farther, [Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ ~Matthew 26:39 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Janet McHenry is a speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. Janet recently retired from teaching high school English and serving as her small school’s academic advisor in the Sierra Valley in northern California, where her husband Craig is a rancher. She loves coaching writers and hosts the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat several times a year; you can contact her at

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Join the conversation: Has an unwanted gift ever become the perfect blessing for you?


10 thoughts on “An Unwanted but Perfect Gift

  1. I need to begin all of my prayers in 2022 like the two-sided coin. I know my need(S) and so does God already so I need to begin praying for Gods will. I learned my lesson in going ahead of God doing my own thing when I thought God was being too slow.

    Liked by 1 person

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