The Blessings of Geckos: Why I’m Thankful for Unanswered Prayers

I really don’t know why bad things happen to us.

I don’t have all the answers. Why do we sometimes get sick before a big event? Why will the car suddenly not start one morning? Why do we sometime have complications during surgery when we’d prayed and prayed for everything to go well?

Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I have come to realize one thing.

As I’ve taken care of my disabled mom these past few years, I’ve learned that God sometimes allows things to happen to us because he plans to work them out for our good. In other words, sometimes God blesses us with a gecko infestation.

Okay, I just lost you, didn’t I? Yeah, I know, I’ll have to explain the bit about the geckos, so bear with me.

Geckos are not something most people think of as a blessing. I’ll bet when Thanksgiving rolls around, thanking God for the little lizards that roam the Earth doesn’t usually make your top ten list. Well, you’re not alone.

I once read a story of a guy doing missionary work on an island in the Pacific. He was prepared for the poverty, disease, starvation, and so on. None of that really fazed him, but what really got to him were the geckos. Yes, geckos, and they were everywhere. They were on the bed as he crawled under the sheets at night. They were in his underwear drawer. They “Spider Maned” all over the walls and ceiling, and stared at him piercingly with lidless glass eyes as he slept, ate, got out of the shower… You get the picture.

The final straw for this poor guy came when he went to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Wouldn’t you know it, a whopper of a gecko was stuck on the wall by the toilet, gawking at him, unmoving, right near the U-bend of the toilet. The poor guy couldn’t do his business with this reptilian audience glaring at him, so the guy called his roommate.

This big burly roommate was the mission’s official bug killer. If anything got in their way, this dude could be counted on to deal with the creepy crawlies and save the day… until that night. The roommate took one look at this especially large gecko and freaked out. “It’s meaty!!!” he screamed. He absolutely refused to go anywhere near it.

Suddenly I couldn’t breathe for laughing so hard.

Here a couple of strong dudes where standing in a little bathroom in the middle of the night, pinching their knees together in an attempt to hold it as they argued about who would kill the gecko. Now, I’m not normally an unsympathetic person, but this time I couldn’t help myself.

You see, I grew up with geckos.

I was born a Navy brat to parents stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. I spent the first seven years of my life surrounded both by geckos and the remarkable local people who call the islands their home. And what was the first pearl of wisdom these people gave my mom when she first arrived in Honolulu?

In short, they told her to NOT KILL THE GECKOS. The geckos are a blessing to the house, and they should be left unmolested. Just let them be, and I’ll take care of you.

Wait, what?

I know, it sounds crazy, but take it from someone who grew up watching these little lizards in action.

If a gecko is on your bed, or in your underwear drawer, or in your bathroom, whatever bug the gecko was eating isn’t there anymore.

Trust me, the geckos are preferable. Far too many bugs in the tropics don’t even stop at six legs. Believe me, four-legged nonpoisonous lizards that eat those bugs are superheroes in disguise. As difficult as it may be for newbies to the islands to understand, an infestation of geckos is truly a blessing.

After we moved back to the northeastern United States, geckos became a thing of the past, or at least they did in the physical sense. I’ve only recently realized that God has sent me his own special variety to geckos to bless me when I’ve least expected it.

Just a few years ago, my mom prepared for the first of many surgeries, this one to repair her blown out left shoulder.

Believe me, when you’re paralyzed from the waist down and stuck in a wheelchair, only having one good limb is a real hardship. With the shoulder injury, she went from being fairly independent to suddenly needing help with everything, and I mean everything. And things wouldn’t get any better until her shoulder got fixed.

I prayed to God again and again that her surgery would go smoothly and be free of complications.

I got all my friends and my entire church praying. Frankly, I was terrified, and heaven could not be petitioned too much on the subject. Well, despite all our efforts, our prayers went unanswered. She did have a fairly serious complication in the form of a cracked bone, and she had to stay in an inpatient rehab facility for several weeks before she could go home.

I was devastated, but God had a plan.

When Mom went to rehab, she was assigned to a doc who specialized in spinal cord injuries and pain management. This doc understood the complexities of my mom’s condition in ways that no one had since the initial injury decades ago. This doctor decided to try Mom on a medication designed to treat the damaged nerves in Mom’s spine. Not only did the medication lessen the debilitating nerve pain, but it also lessened the white noise of the pain signals enough for some healthy nerve signals to get through.

Before I knew it, the mom that I loved, who had been paralyzed for years, was suddenly walking with the assistance of her physical therapist. She was walking. WALKING! My mom was walking for the first time in years… and it wouldn’t have happened if God had answered my prayers.

God used the surgical complications to get my mom exactly where she needed to be with the doctor she most needed to see. I didn’t want her to have complications. I didn’t want her to go to a rehab facility, but when she left rehab, she not only had a healed shoulder, she had legs that worked.

The surgical complications were a gecko infestation.

It was something that we wouldn’t normally want, but because we had that unwanted thing in our lives, it got rid of something else much worse: my mom’s nerve pain and lower body paralysis. And you know what? It’s made me rethink unanswered prayers in general.

I’ll never know this side of heaven why the car suddenly wouldn’t start that morning. Was it just an annoyance, or did God not answer my fervent prayers for the car to start because he was keeping me out of a fatal car accident? When my mom got sick and her next surgery had to be rescheduled, was it just because life stinks sometimes, or was God protecting us? Would that have been a bad day for her to have surgery? Would something have gone wrong?

I’ll never know all the answers this side of heaven, but there’s one thing I do know.

God says he has good plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I also know that, sometimes, those good plans involve gecko infestations. He sends us blessing in disguise that protect us from things that would have done us harm.

So yeah, I still don’t have all the answers about why things happen the way they do, but I’ve decided to trust God anyway. No matter what happens, he’s working all things our for my good (Romans 8:28). And I mean, all things. He can do that, because he’s God, and truly nothing is impossible with him.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, I’d like to invite you to check out the rest of my blog, Give Us This Day Our PB&J. While there, you can also sign up to follow my blog to receive emails of new articles as they become available.

God bless you. I hope you’ll remember to count your blessings each and every day, including the geckos!

Audrey Cunningham

What sort of “Gecko Infestations” have you dealt with in your life? How have you struggled with unanswered prayers? Are there any thoughts you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!
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16 thoughts on “The Blessings of Geckos: Why I’m Thankful for Unanswered Prayers

  1. This was wonderful! I lived in Florida for 10 years and never knew that about geckos. Fortunately I never had to kill one.
    I agree about the unanswered prayers-God always has a plan! How wonderful about your mom! And remember about the man who was blind? Jesus was asked, who sinned, him or his parents? Jesus replied he was blind so God would be glorified! John 9:3

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  2. Audrey, excuse the lengthier comment, but I’m so excited to have stumbled upon your blog- I’m just starting out in the blogosphere and have been on the search for bloggers/ blogs that aligned with my interests >> somehow this post came up on my reader, and thank goodness it did! Thank you for sharing your voice, your faith, and your insight. Truly inspiring, hopeful, and well-written! Grateful to have stumbled upon your site because of the fact that it talks about God and faith– it is comforting to me to be connected more to my personal faith through someone else’s writing. Thanks girl!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad my blog’s been a blessing to you. That’s what it’s there for! I look forward to reading more of your writing too. I just check out yours and it sounds really interesting. Looking forward to seeing what else you come up with. Oh, and I don’t think long comments are a bad thing. I love it when other people join in the discussion. The more thoughts, the merrier. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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  3. Talk about blessings in disguise.. how when we don’t get what we think we want actually turns out for the better! I love the idea of Gecko manifestations as the disguised blessings from God. The 3rd Huna Principle (Huna is the Native Hawaiian belief system) says “energy flows where attention goes”. In short, whatever we focus on we get more of. To put this one of the 7 Principles of Huna into perspective withf those as taught by Jesus:
    “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:21) & (Luke 12:34)
    “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matt. 7:12)
    “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” (Matt. 13:12)
    “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.” (Matt. 7:1AV)
    “Unto you that hear shall more be given.” (Mark 4:24)

    Long before I read your post today I had put on my favorite memento from Hawaii – my red dirt shirt bearing the image of the Hawaiian House Gecko. And then your Geckos appeared in my inbox.
    There are no coincidences.

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  4. Living in the country, I can certainly relate to the geckos or skinks or lizards or whichever of those little critters we’re always having that I’d never dream of killing and we don’t have bugs either but I’m truly in awe of the wonderful story about your mother – truly truly amazing – I am just so glad for you! but I do wonder if you could share – if not publicly, then maybe there’s a private way – what the med was – why? because hub’s aunt – though she is walking and has been for years, was told she never would again – but – assuming she’s older than your mother and hope this doesn’t happen to her later – as she’s aging the nerve damage seems to be causing her more pain and problems so just wondered if it would help her – oh, and just had the whole car not starting thing leading to a whole series of situations that when all was said and done you knew it was best that it hadn’t so well understand – amazing how that works – again, just so glad it did so well for your mom!

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    1. Sure, I’d be happy to tell you. The first nerve pain medication that the doc tried her on was Gabapentin. It’s generic now and fairly cheap, but there are some side effects that you have to watch out for. Mom started having some troubles with those side effects when they upped her dose to keep up with the degeneration of her spine. The doc then switched her to Lyrica. It’s not generic yet, so it can be pricey if insurance doesn’t cover it, but it works much better and has far fewer side effects. I don’t know if that will help your husband’s aunt, but I hope it will. It certainly would be worth asking her doc about it. Like I said in the article, Mom had been seeing docs for decades about her back. Gabapentin had been around for some time, but no one had thought to try it on her back condition… until God put the right person in our way, remarkably to treat her ARM! If you have any other questions, please just let me know! Saying a prayer for your husband’s aunt. God bless you, her, and your family.

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    2. For some reason I couldn’t reply to your last comment, but anyway, I had to look it up… Yes, Gabapentin is the generic name for Neurontin. It’s been a little while since Mom was on it, but it sounds about right that it would be used to treat diabetic nerve pain. I know Lyrica, her current medication does, and it’s a very similar medication. Apparently they both can be use to treat an assortment of disorders involving the nerves. I don’t fully understand how it works, but I’m grateful to God that it does! Hope that info helps.

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      1. I’ll try to check out; seems it was yours I had problems with commenting one of them as well but looks like it’s been resolved on both ends; didn’t realize that about Lyrica but looked it up; interesting, seems so, as well as had learned that about Wellbutrin with my mom, even though it’s typically used for depression – and there I go – I knew I had a similar story in there somewhere about one thing leading to another but I also knew we didn’t end up overall having quite the same outcome as you with yours so couldn’t quite pull it together, so now let me see if I can – plan to add you to my blogroll – per class – if that’s okay; still just so glad for you and your mom!

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  5. thanks, Audrey; told hub’s aunt with bad nerve pain she needed to talk to her doctor she’s going to soon about getting on the Neurontin/Gabapentin – it finally rang a bell with her, thinking she couldn’t take it or at least it had some side effects, like affecting her stomach I think; know my daughter-in-law had some issues as well – guess a lot of things do, may just be a matter of priorities – if you need it and it helps, certainly the way it helped your mom, should be able to handle a little problem with other things if not as bad and can probably get something to take for that as well – has your mom had any problems with it? not that they would compare with what it’s done for her but apparently not everybody quite feels the same – maybe they need to be in her shoes or quit complaining but no, really, aunt’s not going to be able to keep taking care of uncle if she doesn’t do something and if she doesn’t take this med, which, not just with your mom but hers is the most dramatic, have heard helps a lot of people – maybe not everybody, but certainly worth trying because would be the simplest solution; anything else is going to be a lot more complicated

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