I remember hearing a message a few years ago and the guest speaker said when we pray, God gives 1 of 3 answers:
2. Not yet
3. I’ve got something better for you
I think I get it now – after praying fervently for several things, for several years, God answered my prayers. But to get there I had to walk through a rough season of life. All those years I was waiting and trusting Him to answer, it was “Not Yet…”, and I still trusted Him that He would do it, some day.
He placed me strategically, right on time (God is never late you know), right where I needed to be, and then? Events that shook my faith like it had never been shaken before.
But now I can see that if He hadn’t placed me where he did, WHEN he did, I would have been left without the support I needed to walk through it.
“…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” – Hebrews 13:5 (AMPC)
Did this answer to prayer look how I thought it would? OH NO. I thought my answer would come in a quiet moment, immediately changing everything. Yes, the moment changed everything, but it most certainly was NOT quiet. Far from it. It was loud and messy and tore me down and ripped me apart.
A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. – Proverbs 16:9
In my darkest moments during one particularly bleak week, I had a choice. I could try to manipulate the situation, worrying and fretting and doing everything in my human power to fix the situation the way I thought it needed to be fixed – or I could surrender it all to Him.
I have never been good at desperate attempts to fix broken things.
And so I surrendered it all.
In the dark.
On my knees.
Through hot, thick tears.
Can I be honest? It kind of sucked. I felt completely, utterly helpless. I would even venture to say I felt HOPEless. It was the bleakest, blackest of all nights. I had absolutely zero answers as to what the future held. It was terrifying.
But at least I felt the pressure lift off of me. I did not have to do this. I could NOT do this. I was powerless, and somehow giving in to that gave me freedom.
Do you know the end to this story? Are you expecting me to say that it was all roses and cherries on top after I surrendered? God slapped a metaphorical band-aid on it and it healed miraculously in minutes?
There was a very long “going-through time”. I felt unsteady, like I was standing on a piece of flimsy cardboard in the middle of a vast ocean, and any fish swimming by could knock me off balance and into the freezing cold water. That valley of the shadow of death? I was in it.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me… – Psalm 23:4
I struggled hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Somewhere in there, I even experienced a form of identity crisis. I used to see life through rose-colored glasses; this particular season of life I was seeing life through dirty, cracked, smudged lenses. Everything was tinted with the new knowledge I had of my faults, weaknesses, and shortcomings.
It did not help my confidence that I had just started a new job, and this new unsteady me was the one I was presenting to all the colleagues who were meeting me for the first time. (And who, by the way, were all FAR more qualified than I am.)
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. -Hebrews 13:20-21
In my mind, I was screaming at everyone, “THIS ISN’T THE REAL ME! I’M NOT ANGRY, NEGATIVE & DEFEATED. I’M POSITIVE AND ENCOURAGING!” (My actual words and actions proved otherwise.)
That volatile situation was the catalyst which, quite literally, changed our lives. It was hard work which we did with the end goal in mind. The light at the end of the tunnel was sometimes just a pinprick. Yet it was there, urging us to keep going even when we felt the heavy weight of a long journey: exhausting, but rewarding.
Things are still not perfect, because life isn’t perfect. It never will be. The ending to this story is still being written.
But we learned to work through the imperfect times together, which makes us stronger individuals participating in a stronger partnership, friendship, & marriage, which in turn makes our family stronger.
What’s the bottom line?
God does, in fact, work all things together for our good. If we surrender our pain to Him, He lets us choose how to steward it. Some of our favorite pastors put it this way: “What do you want your pain to turn into?”
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28
He is, in fact, faithful to fulfill His promises – all the time. Always. Forever. He has never let me down. I have tried, and can find not one reason to doubt Him. I can write a never-ending list of reasons to praise Him for His perfect works – even while I have some unanswered questions.
God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. – Psalm 18:30
I don’t think there is any magical formula to victory in our struggles – though there is plenty of biblical evidence teaching how to fight these spiritual battles – but I can tell you one thing: every time I’ve unrestrainedly surrendered, victory was not far behind.
Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
– Psalm 86:11-13
Be careful what you pray for – you just might get it, in the most unlikely of ways.
“Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I go
You’ve not already stood.”
– Trust In You, Lauren Daigle
Want more? Read this post about brokenness