Waiting through Unanswered Prayers. I spoke at a Hyphen Event this past weekend on this very subject and since it is something that has been on my heart for the past month, I thought I would share with the rest of my social media family. Here is the spark notes version of my message.
wait. (v). stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens
It is one of the least fun/unlikable responses that we could ever receive from anyone. Especially for Americans who live in a fast paced society, the active response to the word, “wait” does not come naturally. As humans, we want answers now. And, furthermore, we want to be in control of what is to come next. So, when we are told to just wait, the active response, which is to stay where one is and trust that it will all come together in the end, is not innate to who we are. Thus, it requires a strength that is beyond our own natural will. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are given the strength to wait through unanswered prayers.
One of my favourite books in the Bible is the Book of Job. When you study the scriptures, they are not only relatable, but it gives voice to the frustrations/fears/struggles that we face as humans, as believers, as children of God. The entire book of Job anticipates the revelation that I have recently come to discover as well. While God’s plans and His ways are a mystery, to which sometimes His plans don’t even make sense, we must become comfortable with no answer.
Last Autumn, on my red eye flight to Iceland, I had only been en route for less than an hour when the pilot announced that we were to take an emergency landing in Las Vegas. There was a medical emergency with one of the travellers which resulted in a three hour delay on ground (to where we weren’t even allowed to leave the airplane). It was stuffy and hot. It was two in the morning. We had a lot of questions, but the stewardesses were giving us no answers. Waiting is a very uncomfortable state to be in.
I remember thinking at one point, “Will I even make it to England?” and sunk back into my seat as I realised that I would miss my connecting flight in Reykjavik. Frantically, I searched for other flights, but found that the next flight wasn’t to leave for London until the following day. At this point, as we sat on the runaway waiting, I thought about how I was not looking forward to staying a night in Iceland alone when I just wanted to get to London already. Even though the pilot ensured us that we would be back in the air soon, I had very little hope that we were to even leave Las Vegas before the sun was to rise that morning.
Yet, what I quickly learned, because yes, I did make it to Iceland and then to London (they held all the connecting flights in Reykjavik for the day), was that all of my worrying/fretting/frantically planning for something that would never even take place had been futile. The stewardess/the pilot had assured us that it would all work out because what did they have that I didn’t have? They had more knowledge about the overall ways in which their airport/trafficking patterns work. The reality is that we are passengers in this life who have to learn how to trust our pilot and believe that God is working even when we are just sitting on the runaway, going absolutely nowhere. He has knowledge that we don’t have access to.
Oswald Chambers writes, “All that is required is to live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live your life with God in any other way than His way. And His way means absolute devotion to Him. Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Jesus.”
In absolute devotion to Jesus, we find what it means to be truly surrendered to Christ-to show no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead. If we truly believe that God is working all things together for good, then when are prayers go unanswered, when life goes on and everyone else seems to be getting an answer yet we are still left with very little clarity on our circumstances, we will still be able to trust God, knowing that in the waiting, we(if we learn to be still and rest in the knowledge of God), are becoming more like Christ.
Every once in awhile I read from The Message version of the Bible, and I love the translation for this familiar passage of scripture. Romans 8:26-28 states, “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless signs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
As we wait through unanswered prayers, be reassured that when you completely devote yourself to Jesus Christ, even when it feels like you have received no answer, you have. In the same way that Job came to this revelation in Job 42, “Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand. Things too wonderful for me, which I did not understand,” we too must recognize the authority of God’s plan, to which we are finite in understanding. In fact, even if God tried to reveal it to us, I believe it would still be far beyond our understanding. We aren’t here on earth to have our will accomplished, but to have God’s will accomplished through his earth, and we are that earth. Waiting on God forces us to be still and recognize that our purpose is for His glory to be revealed throughout all the earth. Our unanswered prayers are found in looking to Christ alone.