Jackie Hill Perry, thanks for being with us again. On Friday we talked about how hard it is to cling to God when life is easy. It was really good and challenging, and that’s why I love following you on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s another tweet that I think is really perceptive, and I want you to elaborate on it: “Sometimes the miracle isn’t in your prayer being answered but in your faith being grown as you wait.” Excellent. So explain to us, what is God doing to us in our waiting?
Holy Through Waiting
I think as a believer, one thing I’ve consistently had difficulty with is the whole concept and idea of perseverance. I think God is after that when we are praying for things that we don’t seem to be getting.
“A lot of times we are praying for things that we have no intention of giving back to God in the first place.”
I got encouragement for that in particular when I was reading 1 Samuel 1–2, when it came to the story of Hannah and how she wanted a child. She wanted a child for a really, really long time. She kept praying, as far as we know. But then when she went to the temple, she finally prayed to God and she let out her vexation to the Lord.
The Bible said that she walked away from the temple, and her face was no longer sad. And that was always really intriguing to me. Did that happen somehow when she prayed that prayer in particular, and asked God to give her a son? The interesting thing is that in the prayer, she said, “Lord, I will give the son back to you.”
I think a lot of times we are praying for things that we have no intention of giving back to God in the first place.
I wonder if Hannah’s heart had changed in such a way where everything that she was going to get from God, and everything that she wanted to get from God, she only wanted it for his glory. I think that part is what changed her heart so that she was able to walk away and no longer be sad by what seemed to be an unanswered prayer — before the prayer was even answered.
A Mighty Work
So, for me, my heart has been asking, “Man, what is God trying to do in me through my waiting?” Is he trying to help me see him more? Is he trying to help me understand that I don’t need what I think I need? Is he trying to teach me about contentment in the things that I do have?
I think God is always doing a variety of things in secret that we don’t realize or don’t see. I think the miraculous thing is that faith is not natural to me; sin is, rebellion is, unbelief is. The miraculous thing is that God will somehow use my waiting as a means to grow my faith so that I could see Jesus and want Jesus and crave Jesus.
Ultimately, we know that perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and God just wants us to have hope in him (Romans 5:3–5). He wants us to get to the end where we will receive the crown of life, and you don’t get there unless you persevere. God is doing a mighty thing in us when he just doesn’t give us everything we want when we want it.
Yeah. And I suppose we’re all waiting for something. I feel like when I am being called to wait for an answer to prayer, I feel like I’m being singled out. Like, why me! But the reality is, as you read the Bible, waiting is part of the gig for all of God’s people.
For sure. All throughout Scripture God’s people are waiting. I mean, Israel, they were crying out to God for deliverance for a long time. He had promised to do so, and he did it.
“God will somehow use my waiting as a means to grow my faith so that I could see Jesus and want Jesus and crave Jesus.”
Us, we’re waiting for the return of Jesus. We are all in a sense waiting for something, but everything God said he will do, he will do. So, in the meantime, as we wait, we keep trusting, we keep believing, we keep reading Scripture to remind ourselves what God has said.
We keep surrounding ourselves with other believers who can remind us of the truth when we don’t want to believe it. We keep praying, we keep believing, and in that, that’s where godliness comes out of.
If you think about it, you’re trying hard to hold on, and in holding on, God is doing all that he has to do to keep us to himself.