Over the past several months, Cory and I have been praying and believing for a particular thing to happen in our lives. I can’t say what it is just yet, but we’ve been really struggling with the process of receiving this thing from God.
For the past few years, I’ve been learning a lot about the power of faith. It was something I never really heard about growing up in church, but as an adult I learned that when we want God to work in our lives, we have a role to play in that, which is to have strong faith and to believe that he will do what we are asking. There are a lot of verses in the Bible that make some pretty strong statements about faith. Mark 11:24 says “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” That’s a bold statement, straight from the mouth of Jesus! And yet, I’m going to have to ask God to clarify some things when I get to heaven, because this verse has proved blatantly false in my life on more than one occasion.
Nevertheless, I still believe that the Bible is a source of truth, and I certainly believe that Jesus’ words are infallible. So there must be something I’m missing. While this may sound like a flimsy disclaimer, the truth is that I am human with an imperfect understanding of God and his ways. I have to choose to continue to trust God and his Word, despite the times when I feel that things aren’t adding up.
So as Cory and I have been asking and having faith that God will give us what we are asking for, we’ve done our very best to continue trusting him and waiting patiently for him to answer our prayers. A few weeks ago, my pastor taught us that when the Bible says “wait” on God, it means to “wrap yourself around” him and his promises. And so, we’ve wrapped our hearts around his faithfulness, and fervently believed that he would come through for us.
There have been about four times now in which we’ve come close to receiving our answer. Each time we’ve believed it would happen, and each time we’ve been crushed when it didn’t. It hurts each time, and we go through a period of losing hope before we gather our strength back up and re-wrap our hearts around the next opportunity. Today was the fourth time that we’ve been let down, and it hurts even more than the last three times, because this time we’ve decided that it’s time to stop trying for a little while. The disappointment is exhausting, and we both need a break from it.
Reflecting on this whole process and the role of faith in our relationship with God, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
First, I’ve learned that faith doesn’t guarantee that we will receive what we ask for from God. We can’t force God to do anything, obviously. Yet without faith, we are far more likely to not receive anything we ask for. Faith is what enables us to receive blessings from God—but again, it doesn’t force God to bless us.
Second, I still believe that God wants to bless us, and all of his children, in every area of our lives. I don’t believe that God ever chooses to leave his children in poverty or sickness or turmoil (or other, less dramatic forms of lack) because he thinks that’s what is best for them. No way. I believe that we live in a broken world, but that God is always working for our good. So despite our struggles, we can know that God wants to rescue us and bring us into something better.
Third, I can see more clearly than ever that often, God’s blessings face obstacles while they’re on their way to us. Sometimes, God’s angels have to battle spiritual opposition from the enemy. Sometimes, there are puzzle pieces that need to be arranged just so before we can receive what we are asking for. Sometimes, there are hearts involved that need to be worked on first. But no matter what is going on behind the scenes, we can know that God is working on it. Because he does answer prayers, and he does care about every area of our lives. It is our job to trust, and let him work. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” It’s not what we can see that matters, it’s our faith in God and our confidence in who he is.
While Cory and I are still feeling very upset and wishing that our hopes would be fulfilled sooner, we are standing strong on who our God is. Nobody ever said that you can’t be crying while you’re standing, though.
It will happen eventually, and when it does, I can’t wait to share all of the awesome details with all of you.