One of the toughest answers to prayer is “wait”. The black and white of “yes” and “no” can be difficult, but the closure that comes with a definitive answer is typically easier to wrap the heart around with time. But “wait”? “Wait” is a different story entirely.
In a recent heated time of prayer, I came to God in exasperation and there may or may not have been have been a little yelling. . . (side note to mention how great it is that we can come to God in all our rawness and real-ness. . . We don’t have to hide our yuck from Him; He already sees it all and still loves us!) My heart was quickly turned toward the book of Job. . . Job was a God-fearing man whose faith and trust in the Lord were tested in ways that are unfathomable to most of us. Satan challenged that Job would turn away from the Lord when all of the blessings from his life are taken away, so God allowed Satan to strip away everything Job knew and loved. Unbeknownst to Job, he was to endure an incredible testing of his faith; his family, possessions, reputation and health were stricken. What was his response?
“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD”.
After wrestling with God the placement of Job’s faith, trust and love were again revealed:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
This challenged me in my wrestling with “wait”. Is my hope in circumstance, or do I have a living hope in God? Is my faith dependent on what I see and understand or on the invisible yet ever-present Lord? Do I trust in His sovereignty? That His way is best? That His intention is always for my good in making me more like His son?
Our Pastor taught through Matthew 17:14-21 this Sunday which further challenged me to examine my faith. Did you know it grieves the Lord when we do not trust him completely? Seems like a simple enough concept, but think about that for a second. God GRIEVES over our unbelief. Does God require perfect faith from us? Absolutely not, God only requires faith like a mustard seed. . . So tiny and seemingly insignificant; but in his graciousness, he takes our tiny mustard-seed faith and allows us to move mountains. We can only humbly offer our imperfect faith up and cry out “I believe! Help me with my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Our faith is strengthened when our prayers aren’t answered right away. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). God intentionally uses “wait” to strengthen the faith of his beloved Children.
And so, what if I take matters into my own hands? Do what I feel is best instead of waiting on the Lord? Sometimes my best intentions are a picture of weak or misplaced faith. . . What happened during the war between the Philistines and Isrealites? When the Isrealites decided it would be a good idea to bring the Arc of the Covenant into battle. . . Trusting that it would surely save them? They were all killed and the arc was captured. (See 1 Samuel 4). There is no substitute for authentic faith.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit