Have you ever been in a season where you felt like you were praying about the same situation over and over with no results? No answers, and no indication that God has even heard? And you feel frustrated and even guilty about praying AGAIN about it?
We live in an “instant” culture. Instant banking, instant coffee, drive-through fast food, and 24-hour news cycles give us the expectation that we can get whatever we want or need with the push of a button or flip of a switch. Just yesterday, I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, and, seeing how full the parking lot was, I drove two miles away to a different store, because I anticipated long lines at the checkout! I don’t like waiting. I don’t like “wasting” time.
But God often puts us in a “holding pattern.” He may seem silent or distant, non-responsive or even absent. And in our impatience, we may stop bringing our burden to God, and seek elsewhere for answers or relief. Even when we know that God has promised to hear us, and never leave us alone, we long for instant gratification. And when we don’t get it, we start to wonder and doubt.
Sometimes, I feel angry in my impatience. I want answers! I want to know the next step forward! Other times, I feel hurt. Does God not hear me? Does He not understand my need? Sometimes, I even feel guilty. I know that God “knows” everything. Why do I keep bothering Him with the same thing? Am I asking for the wrong thing? Am I asking in the wrong way?
It is okay to have questions. It is normal to wonder. And I don’t have a “quick fix” answer for times like this. I think most of us experience these questions at some point. And the Bible has many examples throughout history of others who waited– some patiently, and others not so much…
Abraham and Sarah waited years for a family. In their impatience, they tried to do it in their own wisdom with heart-breaking results that echo down through thousands of years. Hannah prayed for years while enduring the taunts of her rival, Peninnah, before God gave her a son. A woman who touched Jesus’s robe had prayed and waited years for healing from her constant bleeding and pain. I know of parents who prayed for years that their wayward son or daughter would return home– some kept praying until they died, never seeing an answer.
But one comforting takeaway from all these Biblical and real-life examples– God DOES see and hear us. He left all those stories for us to read, knowing that we, too, would face trying and overwhelming circumstances. God doesn’t always give us an immediate or conclusive answer in our struggles. If He did, we would never develop a real and solid faith. God is less interested in answering our questions than He is in sharing our struggles. He does not want to walk ahead of us and smooth out our every path. Instead, He wants to walk beside us in the hills and the valleys of life.
So even if “I already prayed about that..” I can keep praying with confidence. God hears. He knows. And He cares enough to slog it out right by my side. And yours.