I don’t know about you, but my emotions can wear me out sometimes. On any given day or even hour, I can go from feeling lonely to fulfilled, from frustrated to content. Through all of these emotions, my faith is regularly tested.
I think God gave us emotions as a gentle but firm reminder that we are not in control; that ultimately we need the peace that only He can bring.
Last week I wrote about unanswered prayers. Any time I write, I continue to reflect long after the words are written. Since that post, I have been thinking a lot about answered prayers.
Just this last week, I started keeping a list on my phone of times that it has been obvious God has answered a specific prayer. In just a week, I have added 5 different events that have happened in my own life. Some of them are small, but some are bigger such as being offered more tutoring hours to help with some of my financial needs that have been a major struggle this last year.
I read a quote once that talked about the fact that it was easier to see God in the rearview mirror than right in front of us. For my life, this has been so very true. All the big events in my life, both good and bad, become more clear with time and space.
I think back to one of my first struggles in the adult world, and how God showed up, even when I didn’t recognize Him. When I landed my first teaching job, I had not even officially graduated college. At the time, God and I were on pretty rocky terms and our relationship was basically nonexistent. But even then, when I wasn’t faithful to Him, He was being faithful to me. He knew I would be less likely to move to Alabama without a job, so He purposefully arranged everything just so.
Not only was it a job I wanted, but it was in the best school district in the state. But since life isn’t perfect, there’s more to the story. That spring, as I was getting ready to think about my second year at the school, my principal called me in and told me there would not be a position for me the following year. It was nothing I had done; the numbers simply weren’t there to have enough classrooms. Basically, at what I thought was my dream school, they ran out of space for me.
I searched for months. It was scary and confusing and I dealt with a lot of rejection. At the time, I didn’t have God or prayer in my life. I imagine if I did, it would have been a little less scary. I ended up with a job in the same district, at a school I fell in love with. But after I interviewed, I was originally told I didn’t get that job either. There goes that rearview mirror thing again.
God does give us love and hope and opportunities. Sometimes it just takes patience and trust. I can look back on so many of my life experiences, and see where God was teaching me lessons or giving me opportunities. Some of those lessons I listened to and some I chose to be stubborn with and ignore.
What amazes me most is how faithful He is, even when I mess up. I know God is faithful. I have seen it in my life over and over again. But yet, I still doubt.
This is why I need the answered prayer reminder list on my phone. I need to remind myself over and over again, that when it feels like I am in the dark, when it feels like He might have actually left me this time, or maybe I did something that disappointed just too much, He is still faithful.
God never actually leaves us. But it sure is easy to convince ourselves that He does. This last year is when I needed God the most and when He allowed my faith to grow the most. Although He didn’t answer my original prayer of saving my marriage, He gave me something better: Himself. That will be the best answered prayer I will ever receive.
When He didn’t save my marriage, I knew I had a choice. I could choose to think He wasn’t real or faithful. Or I could choose to believe something better was being planned.
What He has ultimately shown me is that the best and most necessary answered prayer is a relationship with Him. That has to come first. The rest of life will follow.
I still don’t know His plan for my life, but I am learning to trust Him more and more. But, I also still doubt Him way more often than I care to admit. However, I continue to see His faithfulness to my prayers over and over again. The catch is that it is on His timeline, not mine. But when I begin to doubt His timing, I just look back over my life. Because as one of my dear friends reminds me over and over again, His timing is perfect.