Eight years at this time, I was asking God for something very specific. When it didn’t happen, I gave up praying about it. In the last eight years, I’ve rarely even thought about what I was so fervently praying for.
And then this morning, I asked again.
It didn’t take long to begin talking myself out of it though. After all, God just doesn’t work like that, I reminded myself.
But what if the desire I have really is from God? And what if it’s not my job to decide how or when God might choose to answer?
I started reading through the Bible chronologically a few weeks ago, so I’ve been in Genesis and Job. So far, no one gets what they desire right away. There’s always a delay. Sometimes, a very long one. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when she finally gave birth to the son God had promised them 25 years earlier.
Yeah, I don’t like delays any more than you do. When I want something, I mean really want something, I want it now. Not next year. Not in eight years. Certainly not in 25 years.
I don’t know what delayed dream or desire you have. Maybe it’s to get married. Or for your spouse to finally wake up.
Maybe you’ve been longing for a baby.
You might be looking for a job or a better job or a job that feels meaningful. Maybe your current job is fine, but you need a raise or more responsibility or some encouragement from your boss.
Maybe you’ve dreamed of seeing your family whole again, but your child continues in rebellion.
Or healing. You’ve endured 40 rounds of chemo or multiple surgeries or have seen more doctors than you can count…and yet there’s no end in sight.
I wish I knew when or if the answer to my prayer will come. I wish I could tell you that your answer is right around the corner. God usually doesn’t let us in on those things though.
So what are we to do? How do we keep believing? How do we keep pursuing our dreams and desires in the face of divine delays?
Let me suggest three things.
First, choose to believe God is good. Psalm 136:1 says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.“
Because our circumstances, our feelings and a thousand negative voices scream out that God is not good or loving, let me encourage you to meditate on that verse. Read it over and over and over. Think about it. Talk to God about it. Consider all the ways it’s true. And actually do it. Thank Him. Give thanks to Him for what you already have. Give thanks to Him for His goodness and love toward you.
Write that verse on a note card. Stick it on your mirror. Put a note in your phone and set a reminder to look at it. Do whatever you have to do to let it sink deep into your heart and mind. When difficult or confusing circumstances come, and they will, go back to that verse. It’s more true than anything you will experience or feel.
Second, during this season of divine delay, choose to delight yourself in the Lord. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.“
To delight in someone is to find your pleasure and enjoyment in that person. I delight in Robyn and my children and grandchildren. God wants me to delight in Him even more.
It won’t be easy, but try to focus on your relationship with Him, not the thing you’re desiring. A wife would naturally feel hurt if her husband only found enjoyment in sex, but not in the relationship with her. A father would be hurt if his children only wanted money from him and never cared about his feelings.
God is a person. He has feelings. He has desires. And His greatest desire is you and your relationship with Him.
Finally, trust God’s timing is best. Psalm 37:7a says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”
Being still. Imagine your mind being still. No anxious thoughts running around getting you worked up into an emotional frenzy. No freaking out when bad news comes…or another disappointing delay.
Imagine your soul being still. Feeling content. Knowing you have no power to make this thing happen on your own…and being okay with it.
We might not think so, but God’s timing is always perfect. We may be desiring one thing, but God has a better thing in mind He’s bringing about. Maybe God needs to work on our character before the fulfillment of our desire. Or maybe we’re ready, but others involved in the answer to our prayer aren’t. We cannot possibly imagine all the factors that go into God’s good plans for us.
Of course, there is an alternative to believing He is good, delighting in Him and trusting His timing. We can get angry, disillusioned and bitter.
But since I’ve already tried that, learn from me and don’t make that mistake.