I went to the Bethel Worship Night on Wednesday, and let me just start by saying: WOW. I went last year and God definitely blessed me, but this year He absolutely blew me away. First of all, I prayed to have a friend to go with earlier that week and randomly ran into an old acquaintance from DBU who just happened to be going (which also strangely happened last year). We then ended up finding each other at the very front of the line when we both got there (which is crazy because that place was PACKED)! I was already extremely expectant, but during worship, when Josh Baldwin started singing his new song “Get Your Hopes Up,” I UNexpectedly became a bawling mess. I couldn’t contain the fact that I felt God speaking something deep within my heart I didn’t know I needed to hear.
It was in that moment that, almost without thinking, I heard myself say this genuine prayer:
“Lord, I don’t want You to take my disappointment away, but take away every ounce of my disappointment with You. Take away every accusation from my heart that You are not good. I want to worship You in the midst of my disappointment.”
Where did this come from? Well, Bill Johnson spoke on many things that night, but the one thing that stood out to me over everything was the fact that in the here and now, the middle stage between desire and fulfillment, heaven and earth, the one gift I get to give my Jesus, the One who gave everything to me, is the gift of my faith and affection in the midst of disappointment. You see, in Heaven, I will not be disappointed. But on earth, “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). There is absolutely no sickness in Heaven, but on earth, most of the time that is all that we can see. We’re praying and praying, and nothing seems to be changing. Sometimes, things may actually get worse. But does that mean that God is not good? Absolutely never. I loved what Bill Johnson said about how we can be trusted with the weightiness of Jesus’ anointing for breakthrough ONLY to the degree that we navigate through our disappointment. So, how do we navigate through disappointment? It comes through seeing our disappointment, deferred hopes, and unfulfilled desires through the filter of His love. He will always answer us with a yes, no, or not yet. It’s up to us to rest in His answer and trust that He knows best.
If there are some prayers that you have been praying for a long time that have yet to be fulfilled, I want to encourage you with how the Lord encouraged me as to why His answer has been “not yet.” Here are three reasons why that could be for you:
- He loves you too much to allow you to settle for a halfway relationship with Him.
- If you are allowing yourself to stay in a pit of discouragement because you feel like He hasn’t given you what you’re praying for yet, you are missing out on the fullness of what the Father wants to do in you, and how He wants to bless you right now…with Himself! If you are praying and seeking Him for something specific, or you have been for a long time, you may find that you have opportunity to grow or you already have grown closer to Him in a way that you wouldn’t if He just went ahead and answered your prayer right away. You find Him as you genuinely and desperately seek Him! He allows us to feel our need sometimes so that we can realize how desperate we truly are for Him above anything else, and so we can receive the comfort that He brings when we are forced to rely on Him, and not the fulfilled desire. What is so crazy about this, is He truly wants to bless us with the fulfillment of the dreams that He has put inside of us. However, He alone knows that our true fulfillment comes from Him, not those dreams. He loves us so much – enough to delay our desires so that we can grow in our revelation of the sufficiency of that love. He does not want to give us something before we are strong enough to handle it without taking our eyes off of Him, which leads me to my next point…
- He loves you too much to allow you to make what you’re praying for an idol.
- It is the grace of God for Him to not always give us what we want, when we want it. This is because when we begin to want it more than Him, He knows that we will destroy ourselves! Why? When we desire something SO much, we begin to be blinded by it. That thing becomes an idol and it is like physically taking a veil and placing it over our eyes. We become so focused on it, and so unable to think of anything else that it hinders our sight for God and what else He may be doing in our lives. This is idolatry! When the Lord causes us to wait, and we begin to submit to His process and seek Him through praise, the veil begins to be lifted, and we can now see and have the ability to differentiate what is good from what is best. He is always best. A “not yet” answer to our prayers allows us the time to realize the greatness of Who and what He has already given us, and to not make more of what we are praying for when He ultimately gives it.
- He loves you too much to allow you to miss out on the fruit and blessing of your current ministry.
- If you are wondering why the Lord hasn’t automatically shifted your season from one to the other by answering your prayer, it may be because He is still pulling the greatness out of you in the current season that you are in…for you as well as for others! Ultimately, our greatest blessings come when we learn how to take our eyes off of ourselves, and focus on BECOMING more of a blessing to others. You may think that you would be so much more effective if He would just go ahead and give you what it is you are asking Him for, especially if it is a good thing and a part of His will, but He may have even bigger plans right now. In fact, He always has bigger plans. Everything the Lord does is on purpose (see Ecclesiastes 3). He is giving you a testimony while you are waiting for your prayers to be answered, and the lessons that you learn in this season will extend far beyond the moment you receive the fulfillment (like Abraham and Sarah with the son of their promise!). You are called to show others what God is showing you in this season! Sometimes, we feel that He is holding out on us, but in reality, He is wanting to pour His love out on us in an even greater way through His using us to be an even greater blessing! Whether you choose to encourage others who are in the very same place of waiting, or if you simply choose to worship Him before He has answered your prayers, others are watching. You are being used by the Lord more than you even know, and it’s simply by being obedient to Him in the season that He has placed you in. He is showing you how to rest in what He has already given you, and to use it for His glory exactly where you are, and that in turn, teaches others how to do the same. That way, in His lovingkindness, He can bless you with even more than what it was you originally asked for because He is enabling you to reap where you have now sown – in places it may not have happened in if He hadn’t given you a “not yet” answer. Do you see how wonderful He is?
Let’s face our disappointment with the love of God and the faith and trust that He will complete the good work that He began in us (Philippians 1:6).
Here is a song I wrote called Hope Deferred to help you do just that…