But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
Have you ever had the experience that when you pray for something specific and later you sense that God has granted your wish, but you have yet to see it come to pass?
I am not talking about just waiting for God to answer your prayer but the incident where somehow you know, you have that strong feeling in your heart and the peace that you know God has answered your prayer but it has not happened yet. You wait, and wait, and the anticipation starts to mount and set in, and little by little it starts to drive you crazy. You are no longer at peace. It becomes especially unbearable when there is a deadline and it is drawing close, and at the same time the circumstances around you all seem to go against you. It is almost impossible for you to imagine that all these will clear in time for your answered prayer to present itself.
It can be a real struggle, for in one hand you are sure the faithful and gracious God has given you what you have prayed for, but in the other you just cannot see through the shroud of mist in front of you and be confident that it will lift soon to reveal the amazing sight ahead.
Two years ago I was planning for a trip to Xinjiang, China but my boss refused to grant his approval for my 11-day leave application citing I should not be taking another long break after my 3-week holidays to the UK early during the year (that is just how bosses are despite of the fact that I still had many days of unutilised annual holidays and my firm assurance that the operations of the hotel would be in the good hands of my team of capable subordinates!). I prayed hard and I even mobilised all my friends to pray as not every day that one was blessed with the opportunity to visit Xinjiang, a landlocked province in the north-west of China thousands of miles away from tropical Malaysia.
After weeks of praying, I started to have the feeling that God had answered my prayer and the feeling grew stronger until I had absolutely no doubt that I was going to get on that plane and go to distant Xinjiang. But the thing was, I had yet to get a firm nod from my boss! Such was the reality of the life of an employee!
After the rather unpleasant exchange when the subject of my leave was first brought up, I had no choice but to let it rest for some time. In fact, I did not talk about it for about three months, I decided that a “cooling-off” period was necessary. Then I realised I was running out of time to appeal to my boss again as the departure date of my trip was fast approaching! It had to be a face to face talk with my boss and what I was left with in the end was his monthly visit in July, which was just a few days before my impending trip in early August. Talk about stress!
During his short trip here I only managed to get a few hours to have a proper chat with him before he was due to fly back to Kuala Lumpur. Things did not go as planned and not long into the conversation, we started to have huge disagreement over a certain work-related issue. Oh no, not good, I thought. With the way things were going, asking for approval for my holidays would be completely out of the question. At that moment I had absolutely no idea how God was going to turn the ugly situation around and allow me to talk about my travelling plan with an angry boss!
Before things got really heated up, thank God my boss had to go for his lunch appointment. I calmed myself down after he had left and prayed for peace as anxiety had started to build up and I was all up in knots! I had been so looking forward to my trip to Xinjiang and I was not prepared to let it go.
Two hours later when my boss came back from lunch looking cheery and relaxed, in that instant I knew everything would be ok. I brought up the subject, we still argued but in a more light-hearted manner. My boss also agreed that it would be a pity if I were to miss the trip of a lifetime, so in the end he signed my leave application. He signed it a little grudgingly but he signed and that was all that mattered. Four days later I was on my way to a land far far away!
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Looking back, it might have been just a holiday trip, but I learned a big lesson. I was not even waiting for my prayer to be answered, I KNEW my prayer HAD BEEN answered but deep down, I did not have the complete trust in God that He would make things happen as He had promised. When I saw the challenges in front of me, I doubted God’s power to clear the paths ahead for me! My faith was being tested and I failed! The struggle was real, I believe in God and His faithfulness but the human nature in me needed to see the answered prayer coming into form before I could be at rest. What little faith I had!
These last few weeks I have been facing something of a similar nature… a one-month overseas business trip threatens to upset my plan to attend a 2-day seminar that is crucial to a course that I am taking. My friends and I have been praying hard that God will make a way for me to attend the seminar before the trip.
When I heard last week of the planned date for my overseas trip, which would fall just a few days before my seminar, I was at peace. I was at peace because I knew God had granted my wish to attend the seminar and the overseas business trip would come later. I was at peace because this time, I no longer doubted.
True enough, when I saw my boss 2 days ago he confirmed that the business deal overseas was delayed again and we would only depart after I have come back from my seminar.
I have learnt my lesson, a very valuable lesson and a great reminder. I have learnt and been reminded that —
I pray, I wait, I trust. And… God listens, God answers, God delivers.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.