Growing up in the church I heard things like, “ask and you shall receive; knock and the door will be opened.” Well, that sounded good. As I read the scriptures and saw these very promises displayed before me I’ll admit that I felt pretty excited for a Father who would “give me the desires of my heart.”
I read a couple of other things about “His will,” and heard people repeat phrases like, “it’s gotta be God’s timing,” and while I understood that, I suppose, I’ll also admit that I liked the first part much better. I mean, “plans to prosper me” sounded really good.
For anyone who has spent any length of time truly involved in a relationship with the Lord, they will see His goodness played out in their life. They will witness their life improve as they follow Him more closely. Some will even see amazing miracles of healing, and if you’re really in tune with God you’ll see Him in the tiniest of circumstances, such as waking prematurely when you forgot to set your alarm.
For anyone who has spent any length of time truly involved in a relationship with the Lord, they will also be witness to prayers unanswered. When you love Jesus you don’t want that to be true, but it is. You want Him to bestow what you ask because you’re asking in faith, and with a heart that loves Him. Even though you don’t want it to be, it’s honestly disappointing.
My heart currently holds a prayer that I’ve been praying for three years. Three years! I’ve been all the way around my spirit in this petition. I’ve asked, is it your will Lord? Take the desire from me if its not! The desire remains, I continue to pray, and I wait. I wait with the thought, if I can’t have this I still love you. I still trust you. That’s a hard thing to mean for real!
I can think of past prayerful petitions. I can recall praying for a particular job for my spouse, beseeching the Lord that it would be his! But He did not answer. Now years later my husband has a better job, far better than my limited mind could have imagined.
I remember prayers to marry the man of my dreams. I found him, and I wanted him to be mine. But God did not answer. He didn’t answer until a decade later, and then my dream man did become my spouse.
You can know the goodness of God. You can understood the truth of His knowledge that surpasses our finite minds. You can even submit to the whole business of God’s will, and maybe even His perfect timing, but that doesn’t make it suddenly not disappointing. When prayers go unanswered it still stings. Why God? I don’t mean to question you, but it hurts. Why must I hurt when I love you so?
Love means trust, and trust can’t be halfway. It falls apart if it is. Does disappointment still hurt? Yes. But somehow faith takes away the deep ache. It replaces it with hope. A hope that He will make our paths straight even if our ideas aren’t His ideas. Especially then.
Hope is believing the one who loves you has your best interest at heart, whether you can understand or not. Hope knows a future is in store for you to bless you, not cause you harm. Hope transcends our timeline, and it offers peace even when we cannot see a way.
My three year prayer remains in my heart, but I am also beginning to see the groundwork for its answer to come. Maybe there is something to that whole “God’s timing” thing. But still, I am good no matter what the outcome. I know that a Father who loves me knows best, and I’ll trust in that.
So will I be upset if it doesn’t pan out? Honestly? Yes. But I will still love Him, and He will love me. That never changes. I continue to pray, I continue to listen, and I continue to trust. Even when I’m disappointed.