As almost everyone knows, faith is an indispensable key to getting your prayers answered (Matthew 9:29). But when you look at the stories of men and women of faith throughout the Bible, you nearly always see another vital ingredient at work: PATIENCE.
This really shouldn’t be a surprise, since we’re clearly told it’s through “faith AND patience” that we’ll be able to activate God’s promises (Hebrews 6:12).
Yet waiting is hard. It was difficult for people in Bible days, and perhaps it’s harder than ever in today’s instant-gratification, microwave, fast-food and fast-everything culture. If we have to wait more than five minutes for our food at McDonald’s, we’re ready to call for a Congressional investigation.
But the waiting process is even harder when it seems to go on forever, with absolutely no signs of a breakthrough. And when the thing we’re waiting for is very important to us, the wait can be EXCRUCIATING.
No wonder Solomon wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Perhaps you’ve experienced that kind of painful delay at times. I certainly have.
However, we’re in very good company if we’re struggling to wait for God to fulfill His promises. Here’s just a partial list of Bible heroes who had to endure an excruciating wait time:
- Abraham and Sarah had to wait decades for God to give them a son.
- Jacob had to wait and work for seven years to win Rachel’s hand in marriage—but then ended up with Leah instead. Seven additional years of work were required by Laban so he could have Rachel too.
- Joseph as a teen was given some vivid prophetic dreams about his destiny, but he had to endure excruciating years of adversity before his dreams were fulfilled.
- David was anointed by the prophet Samuel as Israel’s next king, but he wasn’t able to actually take the throne until many years later.
- Martha and Mary asked Jesus to come and heal their brother Lazarus—but He seemed to arrive too late! Fortunately, Jesus not only was able to heal, He also could raise their brother from the dead.
Are you agonizing today about some prayer request that hasn’t been answered yet? Is there some longtime dream you’re waiting for God to fulfill? If so, don’t give up! Be patient, and avoid the temptation to take matters into your own hands, as Abraham and Sarah did in having a child by Hagar. Good things are birthed in God’s “waiting room.”
Earlier in this blog post, I shared Solomon’s observation that “hope deferred” can lead to a sick heart. Thankfully, the verse doesn’t end there. Solomon adds this great promise: “When the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Other versions say “a dream fulfilled” or “a longing fulfilled.”
This is fantastic news for all of us. Yes, our hopes and dreams may be deferred or detoured at times. But the excruciating wait will make the fulfillment all the more meaningful and wondrous.
Our patience will be rewarded. I’m counting on it.