What do I do, what do you do, with what we perceive as unanswered prayers? “Faith in God includes faith in His timing” – (Neil Maxwell quote). Timing is so important. God is not in time, time is in God, for He is eternal. In the natural, a premature birth can bring all kinds of life threatening problems. God is not the author of premature, spiritual birth, for His timing is perfect. Throughout scripture we find the phrases “at the set time”, “the appointed time”, “in the fullness of time”…….all relevant to God’s clock, God’s timing in His divine purpose.
In our immaturity, impatience or ignorance, we have all, at some time, expected God to answer our prayer requests quickly, not seeing, or understanding, His greater purpose and will. In the process of time, our Heavenly Father works with us to teach us to see things from His perspective, not ours. Isaiah 55:8-9 enlightens us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts”.
What we term trials and difficulties in our humanity, in Christ they are viewed as divine opportunities to prove God in our lives. We can either rebel against our circumstances, or in humility, invite the Lord into our difficulties and allow Him to enable us to triumph through them. The mystery of the royal exchange takes place. I bring to Jesus all my inadequacies, and He gives His enabling grace, strength and power to walk through every situation with Him, to God be all the glory.
“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day”, Proverbs 4:18. The light I first experienced at the beginning of my spiritual journey at salvation, gets brighter and brighter as I learn to trust my Saviour more and learn obedience as Jesus did in His humanity, (Hebrews 5:8). All of my spiritual experiences should ultimately lead to my learning the nature of God’s righteous, loving, just and trustworthy character. With each measure of spiritual understanding revealed to me of my heavenly Father’s nature, I slowly learn that I can trust Him with everything, and everyone, that concerns me. His word declares: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. Thy mercy, O Lord, endures forever”. Psalm 138:8.
There are times when we have felt to pray for God’s intervention for family and friends in dire circumstances. Have I been brought to the place where I can surrender all control and request of the Lord, “Whatever it takes, Lord”? Some have confessed that they could not pray that prayer. When I have learnt and truly understand the nature and character of my heavenly Father, I will be able to pray those words, confident in who He is and His character. He is not a cruel God, taking pleasure in people’s distress, pain and dire need. He alone knows everything about those we pray for, He knows when, and how, to intervene. He knows the end from the beginning and will intervene at His appointed time. The Lord Jesus is ever seeking to save the lost and will hear the faintest cry of a searching heart that is ready to receive Him. The care and concern we have for our loved ones is nothing compared to the unconditional love God has for them. He loves them in their mess, worldly satisfaction, self righteousness and sin, but longs to bring them out of all that. When they come to the end of themselves and acknowledge their need of the Saviour, they will discover the tender mercies of God.
How do we cope when the days and months stretch into years for our unanswered prayers for salvation and restoration for people? Cleland Boyd McAfee (1903) penned the hymn “There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God”. There is a place in Christ where we can live in the fullness of our salvation, even though we may see loved ones either destroying themselves or merrily just going their own way in life. God can give us His peace to forebear the things we don’t want to see in others’ lives, confident in God’s perfect timing and intervention in their lives. Only God knows when someone is ready to surrender and receive Him. He alone knows the time with His all-seeing eye. He is the dawn of a new day. His love, mercy, grace and forgiveness are His gifts in His Son, but the gift has to be received, embraced, unwrapped. God is far more concerned for the well being of these people than we are, but His grace is available to us, in the fullness of Christ, to navigate through the waiting years. We can hold loved ones before the Lord, confident in who He is, finding peace in the fullness of our salvation. Here we exchange wrestling for resting.
There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.