Sometimes we become heartsick in the process of praying for one important thing for a very long time.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick… (Proverbs 13:12, First Half)
It is painful when hope is deferred, seeming to be out of reach. We are consumed with wondering if God will ever answer our one request. We think this one thing being answered is going to be the turning point for us, the key to everything in life getting better.
However, God rarely answers in the way or in the timing that we expect. Sometimes He does and it is amazing, but other times He has a reason for not giving us a complete answer the way we think He should. As our expectations get disappointed, there is that hard decision again. Will we keep turning to Him, or eventually give up and walk away? When things get hard or weird or frustrating we have to make a choice.
The disciples of Jesus had this choice, recorded in John chapter 6. Many who had been following Jesus left him when he started talking about things that offended their religious sensibilities. Their prior inferior knowledge took precedence over the wisdom that came out of the mouth of the Son of God when He was standing right in front of them.
After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…”
They had to make this choice, as we do even today. Will I keep turning to Him in my frustration or will I give up and walk away? Is there really anywhere else to go? Either we keep choosing Him or we stuff down the pain, bury it, padlock it, do our best to ignore it — fooling ourselves and living in fake-ville.
At some point in this process (if we make the right choice) we come to realize that in the background there is a much bigger plan unfolding. We think we are praying still for that One Thing, but in actuality what’s happening is we are acquiring much more. As we focus on Him instead of that one answer we are actually changing, growing and gaining.
So even before the answer comes, if it does or doesn’t, we realize it wasn’t ever only about that One Thing. Not that He hasn’t heard our cries, but that He plans to answer in a better way than we can come up with on our own.
The relationship with Him and the intangibles that are sometimes not apparent on the outside — increased peace, deep unity, coming into realizing our authority, understanding who God really is, letting go of striving, coming into strong faith — are more valuable than we ever knew. As we let go and trust Him, it becomes about living in that place and wanting more, even if that One Request has yet to be answered.
We all love to hear stories of instant, amazing miracles. God still does them today. They build our hope and create expectation in our God who loves to do them. (One of my favorite healing miracles is the story of my friend Marian Nygard’s son, Adrian, in Norway. Their video story and others can be found on the Favorites Page.)
But sometimes the miracle He performs is to build in us a capacity to hold blessings with integrity and purity BEFORE the answer comes, so that when He finally gives us that One Thing, we aren’t destroyed by the weight of carrying that blessing. It’s a partnering journey we go on with Jesus that is entirely our choice.
Just like we are with our own children — if we give them extravagant gifts that are not age appropriate or ones they don’t have a personal investment in, they might treat them with apathy and carelessness, not having the maturity to handle something they weren’t ready to manage. It can hurt them instead of help them, and reveal our own irresponsibility as parents.
It’s our job to teach them and offer trust to them at the appropriate time, and it’s their job to take responsibility to grow and learn to live well in their inheritance. As they do, we can entrust them with more blessings and authority. Each time it comes down to the heart condition of the son/daughter. It’s the same with us.
As a side note, please don’t hear what I am not saying. I don’t believe God withholds good things in our lives to “teach us a lesson.” And I don’t believe poor health is from Him EVER to bring us into some kind of cruel process of growth. But I am saying that He will use even those things that are from the enemy for our own good, sort of causing what the enemy has done in our lives to backfire in the end. It’s the best, most satisfying type of revenge, too.
Someday we will look back on our journey with God and realize if He had given us what we thought we wanted when we wanted it, we would have missed out on the greater blessing of the big picture He was putting in place. Instead, He gave us something way better, something we really wanted before we ever knew we wanted it. Stuff we would have wanted if we had even known it was possible.
Your relationship with God changes forever when you come to this realization in your circumstances. You know that He was always there when you thought He wasn’t, giving you even more than you knew to want.
And finally, when He answers that precious One Request, we can handle the blessing of it with full understanding of the weight of the blessing, being able to carry the impact that He means for it to have. In the process we have come to realize that HE is actually the prize, and what He has done in the background is actually the REAL miracle.
…but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12 Second Half)