This weekend I had the opportunity to attend a friend’s wedding.
The ceremony was conducted at the edge of a bluff overlooking a beautiful valley. The valley was a patchwork of grass, tilled fields, and orchards. The bluff edge encircled the valley, offering protection for the farmers nestled on the valley floor.
The bride and groom were beautiful – antique white lace gown, burgundy wool tuxedo.
Flower girls ran around the grounds, baskets in hand – rose petals spilling onto the grass, their lacy dresses swirled in the wind.
The wedding party attentively welcomed family and friends.
I sat in a folding chair near the aisle in order to catch a glimpse of the bride and her father. Her excitement spilled over, tears cascading down her cheeks, she kept her gaze forward, looking at her husband to be.
The couple wrote the vows they would share. The groom spoke about his love for his bride and vowed to care for her forevermore. The bride wiped her tears, looked at her tiny vow book, and shared her heart.
You see, the man that stood before her had been the focus of her prays for more than 12 years. She had begged God to bring her a faithful, Jesus – loving man that she could share life’s journey.
Over those years, she encountered men she thought were right. But, the relationships proved unfulfilling and they would end.
She began to doubt that she would ever find someone.
She began to question God’s will for her life; she wanted so badly to be married. She reached the point where doubt, frustration, and fear where replacing her trust and faith.
God was not responding.
Her pleas were met with His silence yet her unmet longing lingered. Expanding to fill the quietness of her days and her dreams at night.
Twelve years and then…
Our delays are a mismatch between our personal desires and expectations and God’s purpose and timing for our lives. When this mismatch continues for months, years, decades our humanness cries out and in our disappointment and frustration, we blame.
We blame ourselves for not being good enough, smart enough, attractive enough…
We blame God for not meeting our needs, for not loving us, for not showing up…
So what do we do when our prayers go seemingly unanswered? How do we continue to believe, trust, move forward?
First, continue to pray.
Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17,
Never stop praying.
New Living Translation (NLT)
We can be confident that God hears our prayers. He is attentive to our pleas.
Keep praying, keep sharing your requests, but be prepared that His response may be different than the desires of our heart.
My young friend prayed for years for a husband – her prayers were answered with a resounding wait.
I know women that desperately wanted to have children, they prayed for a dying spouse, they asked for that promotion – God said no.
Keep praying sisters, but understand God’s answer may not align with your wants.
Next, be willing to accept God’s answer.
The Apostol Paul asked for healing, God responded I’m enough, focus on me and my power.
(7b) Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (9) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:7b-9 New International Version (NIV)
Paul’s request was denied by God. He would live with his ailment, his thorn in the flesh. Paul did not blame, become angry, or fall into self-pity. He embraced his situation and recognized that God is still near even in the midst of his weakness.
Finally, remember that God uses the answered prays, the times of waiting, and the no’s to mature us, to transform us.
God consistently answers our prayers; He is faithful. His response may differ from what we think we want or truly need. But He is not deaf to your pleas; He hasn’t abandoned us.
He uses each situation to change our hearts, to transform our minds, to prepare us for His purpose and plans. He is using our circumstances to mature us, to demonstrate His power, and to touch those lives that intersect ours.
(3) We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. (4) And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (5) And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:2-5 (NLT)
If you find yourself wondering if God hears your prayers.
If you wonder if He is even listening.
I encourage you to let go. Surrender your desires, your plans, and your expectations to the creator of the universe. You can be confident that He hears you, He has a plan, your prayers will be answered.
Keep praying, keep believing, be faithful.
God’s response may take years, it may not align with your plans, loved ones may not receive healing, dreams may not be recognized, but you can be confident that God’s plan will far exceed your greatest expectations.
You are loved.
You are not alone.
God hears you.
You are God’s BeLOVED!