Some of you may be going through a trial…one that’s been going on for a long time, several years maybe. Or maybe you have some unspoken prayer requests. Maybe you’ve been praying for something for many years and it seems like nothing is happening. You have a need, a problem, or a desire. And it seems like God is slow to respond to that prayer. You look around and see that life seems to go perfectly for other people. Sometimes you may have a tendency to look and wonder why everything looks like it’s prospering for those who live wicked lives. They don’t seem to have a care in the world, while your prayer is not answered even though you live a godly life.
The more time passes, the more it hurts. You start having a pity party, start asking questions like “why me?” You want to give up. You want whatever it is to come to an end. You want God to answer you. Why isn’t anything happening?
My family and I also have been praying for many years for a specific request and still nothing happened. Yet.
I say yet, because I know God will answer our prayer. But I am reminded that many saints in the past have also gone along the same path we have. I am reminded that it is part of the Christian life to go through trials. It is part of the sanctification process to go through long periods of waiting before God brings a promised blessing. I realized this fact while I was with my daily devotion in the book of Job, and the pastor at church was preaching from 1 Samuel chapter 1. Two people in two different time periods. Hannah and Job. What is the connection between the two? Long periods of waiting while watching the wicked prosper.
Read how Job pours out the hurting sorrow of his heart:
Why do the wicked live,
reach old age, and grow mighty in power?
Their offspring are established in their presence,
and their descendants before their eyes…
They spend their days in prosperity,
and in peace they go down to Sheol.
They say to God, ‘Depart from us!
We do not desire the knowledge of your ways.
What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’
Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
(Job 21:7,8, 13-16a)
Job had indescribable trials that never seemed to end. But God brought him out to a prosperous end.
The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning (Job 42:12)
Hannah waited many difficult years under the persecution of Peninnah before she received Samuel.
It happened year after year, as often as she [Hannah] went up to the house of the Lord, she [Peninnah] would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. (1 Samuel 1:7)
She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” (1 Samuel 1:10-11).
The Bible is full of examples of saints who waited long years before God granted their request.
Abraham & Sarah
They waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise of giving them a son.
Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:5-7)
And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 6:15)
Joseph in prison
Joseph was sold into slavery, and later put in prison. Based on the information given in the Bible, some commentators say that Joseph spent about 2 years in prison, others calculate it to be 11 years either in prison or serving in Potiphar’s house based on what age he was when he was sold into slavery and when Pharaoh brought him to power. No matter, we know that for nearly 11 years total, Joseph had to endure hardship before he became a ruler in Egypt and later got to reunite with his family. It was a long and difficult journey, but then God raised him to an important position in a crucial time and blessed him.
Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
And to Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” And the name of the second he called Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Gen 41:50-52)
Moses in the desert
After the glory of Egypt, Moses spent 40 years in the desert in harsh conditions before being called to the position of the leader of the nation of Israel. Imagine how difficult it must have been for him to go from being a prince in Egypt, to an anonymous shepherd for 40 years.
Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons. “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.(Acts 7:29-30)
Samuel anointed him as king, but David had to wait about 15 years before being able to reign as king. During that time he was constantly on the run, and endured numerous persecutions from Saul.
To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.”A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge,
Until these calamities have passed by.
Zechariah and Elizabeth
This couple was already advanced in years, and they had no child. They had to endure a lot of stigma, because in the Jewish culture, being barren was like being punished by God. Yet they were righteous people and they probably could not understand why this was happening to them.
“And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years” (Luke 1:7)
“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (Luke 1:13, 14).
The most important example in this lesson. We tend to overlook this, but even our Lord Jesus went through a period of waiting. At the age of 12, He went to the Temple with His parents and was there discussing with the religious leaders. His parents did not understand at the time that it was normal for Him to be in the Temple. Yet, He did not argue with them, and lived in submission to them. For 18 years, the Son of God in flesh, lived in obscurity in Nazareth, before He started His earthly ministry at the age of 30 as was the custom in the Jewish culture.
And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast…Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. (Luke 2:42)
Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph…
And Christ still displays that patience in waiting for His full rightful blessing at the end of the age, when all people will come to judgment.
The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” (Matthew 22:44)
So, when you are losing heart, and the trial seems long, remember Christ…remember the saints…and know that God will provide the blessing soon!
Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise (Hebrews 10:35,36).