Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. – Mark 11:24
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. – Psalm 27:13, 14
Have you ever asked for something from God, but given up somewhere along the way? Or He’s promised you something, but it’s NOOOOOWHERE in sight? Like not even a glimpse of it?
It’s like those faith-deadlines – when you tell God, I need this by then, or I’m trusting you for that promise by that time, and so you start praying and investing and seeking God’s direction towards it? Or God tells us, ‘I’m going to do this’, and we’re just waiting expectantly? Whether it’s a successful project, or a degree, or a baby, or a job, or a relationship, we all do this thing where we set these faith-deadlines with God.
“I’m believing you for a miracle in my marriage in 2015, God!”
“I’m believing you to help me build that ministry by the time I’m 30 God!”
“You promised me a family God, so I’m just waiting on you.”
“I’m just trusting you for a healing in this season Lord, because the end is drawing close, and your Word promises it.”
And we pray with such fervor and conviction, because we KNOW we serve a good God who does good things for us. And yet, as time goes on, and we see no progress in that area, suddenly our fervor wanes. Suddenly our prayers that were once filled with confidence in God’s goodness become skeptical of God’s provision.
“Maybe it will happen next year… maybe He needs more time.” we say, not realizing just how much of a cop out for faith that can be sometimes.
“Or maybe this isn’t what God wants for me.”
And maybe it isn’t what God wants for you – but you’re never going to know until you ask, and then you trust all the way through that season on the promise. You can’t give up on a promise or prayer half way through, then be disappointed that God never showed up – you have to be patient with God’s promises, instructions, and provision.
Faith Goes Hand-in-Hand With Patience.
I have the patience of a 4 year old child. I know because I see myself in my 4 year old niece lol. If it looks like I can’t have it, I don’t want it anymore – or I convince myself I never really wanted it in the first place. If it seems like it’s not coming, I look for something else. ‘I don’t have the time, don’t have the energy, and sure as heck don’t have the patience to deal with being in this limbo’ is the way my mind thinks – but that is so counter to the mind of God.
God is like, “Child, you asked me for something, and the time you asked me for it in/I promised it in isn’t even close to over, but because you can’t SEE any progress in that area so far, suddenly you want to throw in the towel?” And as I meditated on this He quickly showed me just HOW many times I had thrown in the towel on a promise or a step of faith just before He was about to deliver on it. How many times I’d been THIS close to what He wanted for me, but in my impatience and lack of trust, I messed it up by trying to control the outcomes on my time instead of trusting Him to do what He had already promised He would in His.
As I write this God just brought to mind the story of Sarai and Abram. God gave Abram a promise in Genesis 12:
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
God chose to ask Abram to leave home and to give Abram the promise of family and prosperity at the age of 75. SEVENTY-FIVE. If that wasn’t already a joke to us, for the next three chapters he pedals his wife off as his sister a couple times, loses his nephew, saves his nephew from death and destruction, then ends up sitting down with God to have a conversation because at that point it’s like, “bruh, where is this blessing we talked about??”
But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Abram hadn’t seen the promise yet, those years were going by, it was getting more and more implausible, and honestly we can tell he was tempted to throw in the towel even before the fight had really begun, but instead he had faith that surpassed his finite sense of time.
But man, Sarai did not have the kind of faith that Abram did, because chapter 16 hits and she is over this whole waiting thing:
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.)
So at 86 – 11 years after he had received the promise of children – Abram had his first child… except this wasn’t the child of promise. Sarai gave up on the promise and the prayer before its appointed time and took matters into her own hands, and we have had to deal with the repercussions of her actions ever since (the conflict between the Israel and Arab nations stems from the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and their descendants).
So God has a man-to-man conversation with Abram because things are getting out of hand:
God: Soooo… remember when I told you I would make you the father of many nations? Yes, well, just in case you were wondering, I meant what I said. I’m going to give you a ton of descendants and all this amazing land, and all you have to do in return is just get rid of some foreskins. And, oh yea, I’m naming you Abraham now, and Sarai’s gonna be Sarah, and you’re going to have a son together, and your descendants will be kings and stuff.
Abraham (nee Abram): *laughs* You got jokes God! I’m a hundred, my not-so-better half is ninety, and between me and you, things are not really in the best working order if ya know what I mean. So I think you’re actually talking about Ishmael…
God: *exhausted at this point* No. No. If I meant Ishmael I would have said Ishmael. I mean Isaac, the son you and Sarah are going to have next year. HE’S going to be the one I’m going to fulfill this promise through.
Then God sends over a couple angels, because He wants to make SURE these two got the memo and don’t mess things up again:
Angels: Just in case what God told you the other day wasn’t abundantly clear, we’re just here to tell you you and your wife are going to have a son next year… soooo you should probably get to work.
Sarah (in the tent): *snorts* Errrr… look at me. I’m not getting pregnant. And him? He sure as heck isn’t GETTING me pregnant.
God: Why is she laughing? Did I say something funny? Did I stutter? I know you heard me, and I KNOW you KNOW who I AM, so what’s with all this lack of faith and impatience??
Very long story short (the TBE version always is lol) a very patient God allows Sarah to become pregnant and she has a baby who makes them the parents of many many nations – exactly as God promised.
What I find most interesting about this story is how the Bible records how old Abram and Sarai were at each of these encounters and happenings, as if to show us specifically that while the time between the prayer or the promise might seem like a lifetime, and while things look like they are withering and rotting away in the meantime, He will deliver. He always delivers.
Faith is not fair-weather only. Faith isn’t ” The clock is ticking and I still want to believe God is God so I’m going to GIVE HIM an extension on what I’m asking for/He’s promised in this season because I don’t want to be disappointed if He doesn’t do this thing.” – God will do what He wants in the time He wants, and time is such an infinite concept to Him. It isn’t giving up to protect yourself from the hurt of God’s supposed failure (because God cannot fail). Faith isn’t “This prayer doesn’t look like it’s going to yield any good results, so let me try a different one and see if that works.”. Faith isn’t one of those ‘Try Your Luck’ games we used to play at Christmas where if one number doesn’t get you the giant balloon, you just pick another one. Real faith is when the clock is ticking away and you’re down to the wire and you’re still trusting and declaring the goodness and promises of God over your life and your situation, right until the end!
That is the kind of faith I’m praying for.
At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting— it will happen! -Habakkuk 2:3