“If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”
II Timothy 2:13
This has been a weird year. Last year about this time, Shawn made a New Year resolution to play more basketball. He loves it and it gives him some exercise in the process, so it’s a win-win. But the first game he played in January resulted in knee surgery, a new-used ACL and a meniscus repair, followed by 3 months of physical therapy. (His resolution the year before was not to wear pants… Neither lasted very long).
The year trudged on, with me going back to work some, difficult times at church that have brought me to a time of what feels like grieving, and a writer’s block that would leave me sitting at my computer with no words to spill out on my screen.
I’ve stared at the blank page far too many times to count. There was nothing to say that could benefit anyone who might read it. I prayed for words, but felt nothing.
I am not a patient person, and it’s hard for me not to get answers right away (and, by the way, they need to be the answers I want). And while it hasn’t been a terrible year at all (many good things have happened – Noah likes high school, I like my job, our family got away for a weekend trip to Tennessee, and God has faithfully provided), it has felt like a year of chipping.
A bit of chipping away at our self-sufficiency, when so many friends and family have given and blessed us in ways we never would have asked. A bit of chipping away at my selfishness of my time, time I was wasting and didn’t realize it until I had to fill those hours up with working. Some chipping away at my comfort, seeing that new or different isn’t always worse, even if it hurts a little.
And I’m learning some patience. If God has words for me to write, first I must spend more time with Him to hear what that is. If He wants me to wait on His words, and not just fill up a screen because I need another blog that week, that’s okay too.
But the waiting is hard.
I was reading in Luke this week, and in chapter one, Zechariah gets big news. He is old, and so is his wife. While we don’t know exactly how old, “well along in years” doesn’t sound like something you would say to a 40-year-old. But Zechariah gets a visit from Gabriel, telling him, “Your prayer has been heard.” He and Elizabeth are gonna have a baby! And not only that, but a baby who will do great things for God’s people, and who will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from birth. Now that’s an answer to prayer.
But it made me wonder, how long did Zechariah pray for this? How long did he go month after month, waiting to see God bless them with a child, only to find out that again, it hasn’t happened? Did his prayers lose their punch, as months and then years start to add up, without seeing any result?
Did daily prayers to God turn into weekly, then monthly, then an occasional, “Please God,” when he saw another new baby in the neighborhood? Until at some point, he just resolved that it was too late.
In verse 18, he questions Gabriel, saying, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” That didn’t sound like a guy who had just faithfully prayed that morning for a bouncing baby boy. And Gabriel responded with a bit of a punishment – he will be silent for the remainder of the pregnancy, “because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”
God’s proper time is rarely what we want and hope for it to be. We are really like toddlers, wanting it now, sometimes throwing in a tantrum to show we mean it (just me?). But God is a good Father, and He knows far better than we do what we need, and when we need it. He knew Zechariah’s baby was going to be special. John would bring many people of Israel back to their God. He paved the path for the ministry of Jesus, then was blessed to baptize Him himself. God knew when this needed to happen. He knows best. He always does.
Don’t lose hope. Our prayers aren’t always answered in the way that we want, nor in the time frame we want, and sometimes it seems like they haven’t been answered at all. But we can trust our Father.
Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past, and His faithfulness to others around you. He is a good Father.
Don’t lose hope in the waiting. There is always hope.