Do you get frustrated waiting for God to answer a prayer? Lately I have been more and more aware of the “control” I want to take when things do not go the way I wish them to! Yet at the same time I’m fully aware the Bible tells me to “wait patiently on the Lord, and He will bring it to pass.” Why, then, is waiting so hard?
Obviously, part of the reason (maybe the main one!) is that we live is a society that is geared to NOW: we go through the fast food restaurant when we feel hunger pains (and get upset if the line is more than 3 cars long!); we hit ‘enter’ on the computer and then get irritated when the circle spins for more than ten seconds; we pull up to a red light with our left foot on the brake, the right on the accelerator in order to hit it as soon as green appears, and on and on. Control in our eating habits, control on the road (and don’t we holler at other drivers–since they can’t hear us!–when they make us five seconds later than we want to be?!), control over the computer, —control, control, control. You would have a hard time convincing me that most of our frustrations do not arise out of losing that control.
God does not work on our time table. That may not surprise you, but at the same time, have you accepted it so that you can trust in peace? Lately it has come to me as I’ve been reading in the Old Testament, trying to absorb the culture as I read that I do not have the faith of the old time saints. Noah was faithful, spending many years building a boat–did he know what a boat was? Did he know what it was for? Did he understand rain? I’m not sure–perhaps his faith was so great that he didn’t care about the unknown, since he had heard the voice of God telling him to build the ark. How long would we have worked, while people jeered and taunted us for doing something “stupid?” A day? A week?
Abraham was told by God to go away from family to a place God was going to give him and that his descendants would outnumber the sand on the seashore; ten years later the covenant was renewed, and yet it was another fourteen years before Isaac was born. Twenty four years! It’s not a wonder that Sarah got frustrated with waiting, but yet there is no indication Abraham had anything except total trust in God.
David was anointed king by Samuel. Did he take the throne immediately? Not by any means! He even was ‘hired’ by Saul to play on his instrument in order to quiet the insanity of Saul–an unknown king consoling a reigning king! He had to run for his life for years before being anointed king, and then served faithfully in Judah before Israel became part of his kingdom as well.
All of these patriarchs point out that God definitely does NOT see as we see, nor is He tied to a time that says “do this immediately!” Yes, there are times He acts quickly: Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king, showed a sadness in his face when he came before the king: an act that could have gotten him killed. The king asks, “Why are you sad?” and Nehemiah prays! All he has time to say in his prayer is “HELP!” He did not have the luxury of waiting ten minutes before answering the king! I’m convinced God gave him the words to speak truth to the king and gave it to him at that moment. But that was God’s timing!
What can we learn from these? That when God promises something, He will do it! Which is more important to us–that we submit our will to His, or that we control God to get it done sooner, rather than later? If I can order God around, He is not the right God! My God does what He wants, when He knows He needs to, and not one second sooner. He gives me faith to continue to serve Him even when I see nothing happening–or do I? These are hard questions. St. Augustine, one of the most famous of the early church fathers, had a mother who prayed for his salvation night and day–never giving up, never letting go of the hem of the garment of the One Who brought salvation, and eventually her prayer was answered.
It is a light-bulb moment for us when we realize that inactivity drives us up a wall, and that waiting patiently is adverse to everything in us: waiting for God to act seems fruitless when days become weeks, and nothing seems to have been done! So we say to God (perhaps not aloud!) “Here, just give it back to me, and I’ll work on this problem while You do something else.” And God usually does! He’ll give it back, watch our fruitless actions, and wait patiently for us to come to the realization that all we’re trying to accomplish is only resulting in unrest, a lack of peace, and NO productivity! Years ago in high school I remember the analogy the teacher used for work: was pushing against a boulder or a building, with every muscle in you, pouring sweat in the process, red in the face, work or not work? It was not work because it would end in nothing being accomplished. So it is with our activity when it’s outside the realm of waiting on God.
May He find us faithful as we wait for Him to answer our prayers, our pleas, the desires of our hearts. May we have enough trust in Him that we can rely on every promise He has ever made, knowing somehow good is coming from the waiting! May we continue steadfast as we lift us wayward children who may be destined for hell, husbands who may be playing at church, fathers or mothers who want nothing to do with God, siblings who fight against serving God, and neighbors whose lifestyle slanders everything He is. Let us serve Him for He is Holy, Faithful, and deserving of all we can give Him!
Father, I’m probably the worst of your children who gets impatient with waiting. Help me to realize the stronghold this can have in my life, and let me give my problems completely over to You, and then wait patiently for You to bring good out of them! Send sowers to those we love who will plant seeds, water, fertilize and get the Gospel into their hearts, so that You can bring them to fruition! Increase our faith, Lord! Amen