Everyone has a story to tell. When we make the connection between our story and God's great story, we come away with HIStory, which involves each and every one of us.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. -Romans 5:3-4
I waited patiently. I waited in doubt. I waited impatiently. How quickly it went south. I have been praying a very special request for the past two years. I started enthusiastically, patiently. How quickly it turned into worry and doubt that it was never going to happen. How many of us have prayer requests that we've been praying for months, years that have gone unanswered? I love how every time I reach this level of impatience, He reminds me of sweet, old Elizabeth (sweet, oh yes! and old, oh yes)!
In Luke 1 we read about Elizabeth and Zechariah and their barren situation. The Bible says they were "well along in years." I can only imagine how many years Elizabeth had been praying for a child. I'm certain it was more than two! But sweet Elizabeth did not give up. I imagine her as a gracious, loving, patient woman. The Bible describes Elizabeth and her husband as "upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly." (Luke 1:6) I imagine her the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman. Oh if I could model her faith then I would develop more patience.
While comparing ourselves to Elizabeth will only leave us feeling unworthy and like a total mess, I believe we are to learn a great deal from her. I believe the teaching in all of this is that God is glorified when we pray in persistence. The thought of praying over the next 50 years for one particular request sounds exhausting. But I believe the point is to be in radical, persistent prayer over our seemingly impossible situations. Jesus has shown us time and time again that He can make the impossible, possible. Elizabeth went on to have a very special son, John the Baptist. His birth did not come a minute too soon or a minute too late. He was the boy that would grow up to be the man who would "make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17b) He would be the one to baptize Jesus. What an honor. God's timing on John the Baptist's birth was perfect.
A few months ago I found myself in the radiology department at the hospital. Not a very adventurous ordeal. I had unfortunately missed my first appointment at the small and friendly clinic a few days prior and therefore found myself in the very large and intimidating hospital. I was quite annoyed when I arrived because it had taken me over an hour to arrive because of traffic (should have only taken me 20 minutes), upon arriving it took me 30 minutes to park and find the check-in desk. To top it off, I was arriving for an ultrasound appointment so if you're familiar with these they ask you to drink 4 cups of water before arriving. So you can imagine, my bladder felt like it was about to explode. I couldn't control the urge to dance around while I waited for what felt like an hour (honestly it was more like 20 minutes). Well, I was finally seen, albeit a bit late, but it all went well.
As I walked out of the hospital I overheard a couple discussing their appointment time with the nurse. They struggled to communicate because the couple didn't speak English and the nurse didn't speak Spanish. "Something" told me to walk over to them and offer assistance. So I poked my head in and asked if they needed a translator. Sure enough, the lady smiled from ear to ear and started speaking 100 miles/hour! Unbeknownst to the couple, they had arrived at the right hospital just not the right department or city. They were quite flustered by this point. As the nurse explained where they needed to go and I translated, I could have been speaking any other language to them because they were lost in confusion! You see, later in our conversation I found out that they had driven six hours to arrive at their appointment. So telling them to drive 15 minutes away to another city was not something they could easily do as they did not know the area well enough. Well, I had a list of errands to run that morning but I could not possibly just walk away and hope for the best. So I offered to show them where their appointment was by driving there and having them follow me. So I got in my car and drove. It was much farther than I had expected. But we arrived! We parked and got out of our cars and I showed them where to check in. But then I remembered they couldn't communicate well enough in English. So I stayed and translated for them. As I talked to the wife in the patient line, she had a chance to share more of her story with me. Her husband was suffering from Parkinson's disease and had lost his ability to speak. But the reason they were there was because he had been in a car accident a month prior and had suffered neck and spinal cord injuries. So this sweet man was now in a wheelchair, with a neck brace, unable to move or talk. In addition, they had left their house at 5am that morning with only one meal in their tummies and had planned to eat when they got home later that night at 8pm. They didn't have money to stop and buy food because they only had enough money for gas. Wow that pierced my heart. As they waited in line I ran to the cafeteria and bought them some lunch. The best cafeteria food I had ever eaten!
So what is my point in all of this? That God's timing is perfect!!! Now that I look back on this day, I realize I was supposed to miss that first appointment at the clinic, I was supposed to arrive late to my appointment so that I wouldn't miss this couple on my way out of the hospital, I was supposed to run into this family so that I could show them where their appointment was and so that I could provide lunch for them. This day started out as one of the most stressful but by the end I had been blessed beyond words. My heart was so overjoyed that God had used me in such a specific way. His timing is perfection and it reminded me that I need to embrace interruptions and circumstances that seem unfair because God is working His great will in our lives. The best blessing of all is that I was healed from the pain I had been experiencing (reason why I was at the hospital).
Let's allow God to lead our timeline instead of letting our frustrations cloud our hearts and mind. Let's allow Him to direct our lives and answer our requests not a minute too soon or a minute too late. His timing is perfect and if we let Him drive, we will enter His peace. What do you say we don't try and rush God's timing but instead trust that His timing in our lives is perfect? Let's remember we serve a perfect and holy God whom we can trust. Let's "live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)
My dear reader, let's pray this today:
"Heavenly Father, we honor You and praise You for your immense love and divine timing on our lives. We pray that you would meet us in our unbelief, that you would remove any doubt and replace it with faith. Grant us more faith that we may wait on your perfect timing. We need you Lord. We love you. In Jesus' name, Amen."
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
Damaris U. Avila lives with her loving husband and their two inquisitive and sweet girls. Through personal storytelling, she invites women to share and see themselves in God's story. She leads young girls through BeYOUtiful Girl Time, a sisterhood where girls are encouraged to become the women God designed them to be.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."