You know, life is tough. Not always, but often enough. My life is so filled with blessings that I would never complain that my life is tough. But, I have people in my life who are struggling and it’s tough to see. Friends struggling with cancer, loss of a spouse to death or divorce, infidelity, having to start life over at middle age. As a complete control freak and certified (or certifiable, depending on who you ask) know it all, the hardest part for me is that I don’t have answers. Sometimes, there aren’t answers. It’s a matter of learning to live with the problem, not “fixing” it.
So, this morning started with a sanity run for me. It wasn’t long, I still haven’t been cleared by the doctor with my knee. And, it certainly wasn’t fast, but it did blow out some cobwebs, a much needed release. And some truths presented themselves, as they so often do when it’s just me & God running.
I listened to a podcast by Andy Stanley last week about having faith when God is silent. You know the time I mean: when you’ve prayed diligently for something for such a long time and there seems to be no response. I think it’s one of the hardest things we face as Christians, not just in relation to our faith, but also when we present our faith to non-belivers. How to explain that sometimes, often times, God’s answer is “No”, or “Wait, the time isn’t right yet.” I’ve had prayers like that. Some I’ve prayed for so long I don’t even remember when I started praying them. Some I’ve finally had answered, others I’m still waiting on.
So, what to do? How do you keep on? Andy Stanley reminded us in his message that even some of Jesus’s very favorite people were told no. Remember Mary, Martha, & Lazarus? Lazarus was sick and his sisters sent word to Jesus who wasn’t far away to come heal him. They had faith that Jesus could heal him and would come, but Jesus didn’t go. He waited until Lazurus died and had been dead for some days before making the journey. Why? For us. So that we could see His glory in bringing Lazurus back to like.
What does that have to do with me, with you, with our unanswered prayers? It’s a reminder that God’s strength is glorified through our weakness. When we struggle with something for such a long time, we have to learn to depend on God.
Sometimes, God’s answer to our fervently whispered prayers will be no. Remember Paul & his thorn in the flesh? God never removed it, whatever it was. But, He used Paul mightily. If not for Paul, I wouldn’t be the faith filled woman that I am. Even with his “thorn”, he went on to lead centuries of people to Christ.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
God has different timetables for each of our lives. We have to learn to wait for His answer. How is that good news? Hopefully, knowing that pain comes to everyone’s lives and knowing that it’s not necessarily caused by something you did, or your lack of faith, will give you hope. It is, without a doubt, a time in your life when God is growing you. Helping you to become more patient, more loving, more dependent on Him and therefore, more faithful. How long will it last? I don’t know, but I do know that He’ll give you the grace you need to get through it.