Batterson opens this chapter talking about a prayer that he prayed for 8 years waiting for God to respond. Yikes. I don't know about you, but waiting 8 years for God to answer my prayer is not something that makes my heart leap with joy. But as I was thinking that while reading, Batterson's next assertion hit me right between the eyes:
"In retrospect, I'm glad the coffeehouse (what he was praying for) took eight years of hard prayer because it stretched our faith in the process. When you have to pray that long, you aren't even tempted to take it for granted."
I love that. I have often thought something similar in my own mind, and I have shared it with Adam on more than one occasion. All of this waiting is so hard, and I often feel like I am just praying the same thing over and over with no change in sight. But in this process, God has allowed a thought to bounce around in my head. All of this waiting, praying, suffering, hurting, begging, pleading, longing means that when Adam and I finally do become parents, we will realize what a miracle it is. And that is something I will treasure. I always thought that becoming a parent was a given right, something everyone had the ability to do and do easily, but I am learning that this is not necessarily the case. And so what is the natural course for many will be a miracle for us. And maybe God is letting all of this happen so that we will realize that truth.
All of this leads me to ask you a question.
What are you praying for? Waiting for? Longing for? Begging for?
Could it be that God longs for you to understand that when whatever you are waiting for comes to fruition that He is the One responsible? That His miracle working is what brought about the conclusion to your years and years of prayer? I am asking myself this as I ask you, and I am hoping that my tone here is clearly encouraging and not at all antagonistic. Because believe me, dear friend, I am struggling right alongside you.
Sometimes, when I am having a particularly difficult stretch, I start to feel like maybe God just doesn't want to bless me with what I have asked for. I start to think that I am just hurting for the sake of hurting and that He is withholding for the sake of withholding. These moments are not my most graceful. But our author speaks to this.
"God is not holding out or holding back. It's not in His nature to withhold any good thing from us...If you take God at His word, you'll make the joyful discovery that God wants to bless you far more than you want to be blessed. And His capacity to give is far greater than your capacity to receive."
If I know that the Lord longs to bless me, then I can also know that He is withholding because it is in my best interest. I often have to look back at Jesus' lesson in Luke 11. Jesus tells a story about a man who comes knocking at his friend's door very late at night, asking for bread for a guest at his own home. The man is persistent in his asking even though the friend has made it clear that getting out of bed to get bread is not what he wants to do. BUT HE DOES IT. And he does it because of the man's boldness (some translations use the word audacity) in asking for it. Jesus goes on to ask which father would give his son a stone if the son asked for a fish, and finishes by stating that if earthly fathers (who are inherently sinful) give good gifts to their children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give good gifts to His children. I am always encouraged by that chapter, because it reminds me that God is not just a distant God up in the sky, but rather He is a Father to me. And fathers take great joy in providing for their children.
This chapter concludes with a resounding truth.
"The more opposition we experience, the harder we have to pray, and the harder we have to pray, the more miracles God does."
I just love that. Mostly because it is true. I feel like the last two and half years of my life have been one enormous uphill battle. But for God and His infinite grace, I know for sure that I would have given up by now. I am simply not strong enough. But He is. And I can lean on Him. Shoot, most of the time I think He is carrying me. And I am OK with that. Still, I need to work on doing a better job of turning to Him to meet my needs instead of searching (albeit fruitlessly) for the strength within myself or turning to others before turning to God. He alone is able. And that is why I need to pray to Him. For His guidance, His love, His peace and His favor. Because when we have God's favor, we do not need anything else.
Back in March I wrote about attending the Created for Care conference with my mother. In one of our sessions, the speaker quoted Beth Moore.
"Blessed are you when what takes the natural course with someone else means that a miracle has to happen for you."
That has stuck with me over the months since, and it has been a source of encouragement to me on more than one occasion. It's not how we usually think, is it? It's certainly not how I usually think. I want easy all too often. I want what others have. It is hard to watch the people around you get what you want and sit there wondering, "Why not me?" And so I appreciate this different look at the same situation. Maybe all of this means that I will absolutely know, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that our little ones are walking, living, breathing miracles. Maybe I would know that anyway, because all children are miracles when you really think about it, but I am pretty sure I would not appreciate that truth as much as I will if things had been easy. So even though it does not really feel like it, maybe God's favor is resting on us in this way. Not the traditional way, but in a way that is for our good and His glory.
Some things to consider:
1. Is there something you have been praying for for a long time?
2. What are the things you have learned in your wait? What has God revealed to you about Himself? About you?
3. What is your tendency when you face opposition? Run to God? Run to self? Run to friends? Run to mom? Are you like me and in need of some work in this area?
I would love to pray for you about whatever it is you are walking through these days. You can leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are looking for someone to pray with or for you. The school year is almost over, so I am about to have a good bit of time on my hands, and I am hoping to spend a lot of time in prayer this summer. I would love the opportunity to pray for you in the days ahead.