My five-year-old likes to play outside. Because he can’t play outside when it’s raining, he frequently prays and asks God to make it sunny. Invariably, the sun will pop out (often immediately!), the rain will subside, and our little boy is happy that God answered his prayer. Now, we are careful to teach him that we need to pray and ask God to do what’s best, not just what we want, and that sometimes God answers us with a firm No. But all the same, I think God is teaching my son to trust Him to answer prayer. God is pursuing his heart.
I have a dear friend who has been waiting more than eight months for God to answer her family’s prayers to provide them a home. (Wish I had time to share all they’ve been through since November, with multiple offers on multiple houses, a final closing, moving, unpacking, then having their home taken away because of a break-down in bureaucratic paperwork, now living with other families… It’s quite a story.) This dear friend is a mature Christian who has had her faith in God tried and tested many times in many ways. She stands firm, unwavering in her conviction that God is at work. Not to say that she doesn’t groan in the midst of her trial–she is candid about her fleshly desire to grumble, and the Spirit’s work in her to produce His fruit instead–but she understands that suffering is a part of following Christ.
It seems that for baby Christians, God answers prayer quickly and decidedly–whether yes or no–in order to grow their faith in Him. With more mature believers, God delays His answers, or even withholds them, to continue to build their trust in Him. As faith grows, so does a Christian’s tolerance for ambiguity, delay, or silence. This tolerance, this patience in suffering, reflects Christ to those around us and teaches us on a deeper level what it really means to be conformed to the image of Christ.
So take heart, Christian! Things will only get harder. But this is the glory of Christ in us!–if we will but endure to the end in faith. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. The deeper we go with Him, the more He proves Himself faithful to keep that promise. So no matter what we may lose, if we draw closer to Him, haven’t we gained the most valuable thing?
How is God training your trust and building your faith in Him?