God Has Something Better
The first time I prayed a desperate, cry-from-the-heart, kind of prayer was when I was about 8 years old and our cat went missing. I went into my bedroom, kneeled in front of a small statue of Jesus, and begged him to bring Smutty Nose back. While I was still on my knees, I heard my sister yell from the driveway, “Guys! Guys! Smutty Nose is back.”
That instant answer to my prayer made a powerful impression on my 8-year-old heart. God went from being a mysterious presence in the sky to someone who heard the broken-hearted prayer of a little girl and answered it.
Prayers that are answered quickly are a booster shot to our faith and give us wonderful reassurance that God really does hear us. But in the many years since that desperate, childlike prayer, I have sent up many more heart-cry prayers that have not been answered quickly. And sometimes, when the answer did finally come, it was not what I would have wanted. My finite mind will never be able to understand all the ways of an infinite God, but I'm learning God has used what I have perceived as delays and disappointments to increase my faith and grow my trust in him more than anything else in my life.
It can be tempting to give into the thought, "God, if you really are in control you could change this situation in a heartbeat. If you really love me, why not do it?" But Proverbs 3:5 tells us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight." I'm learning to embrace that my life and my circumstances are in the hands of an Almighty God who loves me so much, he died for me. I can trust his heart toward me even when I don't understand and that brings a peace and contentment only he can give.
There's something I've been praying for pretty desperately in recent years. It's a biggie and it's something I feel God has assured me, he has for me. But with each yearly milestone that passes, I find my heart crying, "When God? When?" The hardest days have been when it looked like my prayer was about to be answered only to realize God was saying "no" or "not yet". Through years of wrestling with this unmet longing God has cemented a deep knowing in my heart that sustains my hope. It's knowing that the "no" and "not yet" answers are God pointing me toward something better that he has for me. My job is to be patient until the right time. I've been convicted that more often than not, I make God too small. Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see that many of the things I've prayed and begged for have been so much less than what he has in mind for me.
I cling to the description of God in Ephesians 3:20, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." I think God desires to give me much more than what I've been praying for and I find great encouragement from the stories of both Joseph and Lazarus. Joseph languished in prison for years but at precisely the right time, God promoted and blessed him beyond anything Joseph could have hoped for! Lazarus lost his life and those who loved him were heartbroken over Jesus' delay in coming but God had something so much better for them. A miraculous resurrection!
I can look back through decades of my journals and see so many desperate prayers that now, I thank God he didn't answer the way I wanted him to. If like me, you have some prayers you wish God would get busy answering in the way you hope, know that you are in the perfect place for God to deepen your faith and bring about a deeper, greater blessing in your life.
He is a good, good father who hears and answers our prayers in his perfect timing and his perfect way. You can trust him.
Amanda Ober has been attending Summit almost since the beginning! She was the original volunteer leader of the First Impressions Team and continues to serve as a First Impressions volunteer at the Herndon Campus. She's served as a Connect group leader for 14 years, a Summit Connect coach for three years, and is currently in her second term serving on Summit's Board. She has been a television news reporter for 28 years and has been at WESH TV in Orlando for 20 of those years. She loves to sing, read, and she has two unusually large cats named Aslan and Mr. Darcy.