Persist: continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure.
Persevere, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, show determination, press on/ahead, plod on, plow on, stay with something, not take no for an answer
The Israelite’s wandered in the desert for 40 years.
Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac to be born.
Lazarus was dead for 4 days before Jesus healed him.
David waited over 20 years before he became king.
Job waited months to be restored.
Jonah was in the belly of a whale for 3 days.
Waiting is hard.
I will be the first one to admit that to you. I am kind of a patient person. But then again, I’m really not. I can wait. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated (to say the least) while I’m waiting.
I know that I should wait on God. But that doesn’t mean I like waiting on God.
The Bible gives us many incredible examples of folks who waited, and waited, and waited for God to answer their prayers. The above stories are just a few of the more popular or familiar stories. There are many, many, MANY more examples.
In all of these stories, we know how the story ends. We know the conclusion. We know how God redeemed everyone in these stories. How he fulfilled the prayers. Yes, we know that they waited for what probably seemed like an eternity. But we also know how they turned out.
What we do not always get a clear, full picture of is what it was like for everyone while they waited. If there is an exception, I would say it was Job. But nonetheless, I’m sticking by my statement that the waiting period, the anguish and heartache and fear that everyone experienced during the waiting really isn’t truly laid out.
We know that they struggled. We know that in their impatience for God to answer their prayers that they did some stupid things. Abraham and Sarah got impatient, and tried to answer their prayers in their own way, by Abraham having a child with Sarah’s servant. And the Israelite folks worshiped other idols, and tried to make their own way in a lot of different areas. Job remained faithful in his claim, despite his friends urging to do otherwise, that he hadn’t committed any great sin.
There are lessons to be learned here.
Huge, important lessons.
First of all, waiting is hard. Yes, absolutely, part of the lessons that we learn from all of the stories about waiting in the Bible is that waiting is hard. It is difficult. It is challenging. It is a struggle. I often feel like we don’t accurately understand from the writing in the Bible just how difficult the waiting is for the folks in the Bible. If everyone accurately described the day to day struggles during their waiting period, the Bible would easily be 17 times longer than it already is.
Because of that, the magnanimity of the time of waiting truly isn’t felt.
As a result, there will be times during our own waiting periods that we will struggle. And we will feel like there is no end to whatever suffering or struggle or difficulty or challenge that we are facing.
And sometimes, just sometimes, knowing that eventually there will be a conclusion to our waiting period isn’t all that much of a comfort. Because in our human-ness, we don’t want our suffering to end someday. We want it to end RIGHT NOW!!!
Second of all, don’t do stupid things while you’re in your waiting period. This one should be a pretty clear lesson from the Bible. In our impatience, we want to solve our issues on our own, because we feel like God is just taking way too much time. So we then compound the bad-ness of the situation by trying to do things our own way.
Yes, we make things worse.
Instead of being patient, and letting God’s plan play out how He intends it to be played out. We screw things up, and try to force our own plans to happen, and we just make things worse. So very, very much worse.
Friends, I know how difficult it is to wait on God’s timing. But if one thing has been made clear to me lately is that we should never give up.
I truly believe that if God has put something on your heart, or put you in the middle of a challenging situation, He has planned a way out of it for you. He already has all of the little details worked out.
We just need to trust in His plan, trust in the purpose for his plan.
We must persist.
Let’s unpack the passage from the notes in my Bible pictured above.
“To persist in prayer and not give up does not mean endless repetition or painfully long prayer sessions.”
There are times in the Bible where we are commanded to “pray without ceasing.” I get that. And there are certainly times where a prayer vigil is called for. But I also believe that while we are called to pray without ceasing, that doesn’t mean that we stop doing everything else in life. “Painfully long prayer sessions” doesn’t sound like something that glorifies God. At all.
“Always praying means keeping our requests constantly before God as we live for him day by day, believing he will answer.”
Keeping our requests constantly before God can be a method of praising God. We trust in His plan. We honor His plan. We have faith in his plan for our lives.
“When we live by faith, we are not to give up.”
Years ago, we were introduced to Dory. The awesome, and hysterical, yet forgetful character in Finding Nemo, who always reminds us to “just keep swimming.” Over and over again, we are to persist, just keep going, because we trust in His plan. We will not give up on His plan. Because we have faith.
“God may delay in answering, but his delays always have good reasons.”
Unfortunately, for us, God doesn’t answer our prayers by following our timeline. Yes, we wish he would sometimes. But there is absolutely no instance where our time frame would supersede God’s timeline. There may be times of coincidence, and it just so happens that God’s plan for our life, and His plan for our life are the same thing. But I promise you, it was God’s plan for it to happen that caused whatever it is to happen.
“As we persist in prayer we grow in character, faith and hope.”
When we choose to live in faith, and trust in God’s plan, trust in God’s timing (even if we don’t always like it) we grow stronger. We grow more faithful. We life in hope. And we can find joy in the waiting. In fact, we should choose to live joyfully during the waiting time. Even though it’s difficult to do sometimes. When we choose to live in the joy of waiting, we find more joy along the way.
Dear friend, I feel the pain you may be feeling during the waiting times God gives to us. I feel the struggle, the impatience. The desperation in wanting this to end. I get it.
It can suck.
But persist. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward. Keep trusting God. Because there is not one instant that God’s plan for our life won’t turn out to be the absolute best thing for us.
I could promise you that fact.
But even better, God promises us that fact.