When you pray for something for a long time, and God's answers come slowly, you can get discouraged.
A thousand years might be like a day to God, but a slowly moving timeline can be like a traffic jam on I-95 to us, feeble little creatures that we are. Have you ever been stuck on I-95? I should just ask, "Have you ever been on I-95?" Because if you've been on it, you've been stuck on it.
While we're on traffic analogies, here's another one. Have you ever been a parent, in a car, on I-95 headed to Florida, or perhaps Cape Hatteras or Myrtle Beach? And have you had a gaggle of young ones in the backseat, eagerly anticipating their fantastic vacation? And have they ever asked, over and over, "Are we there yet?" Of course, as you sit at a standstill while the fuel fumes rise around you, and you try to calculate the likelihood of death by heat stroke and asphyxiation if you turn off your car (and thus the car airconditioning) against the likelihood of running out of gas and being stranded forever on this congested corridor, your anxiety is already high, and you are wondering the same question as the kids, although in different terms, and every aspect of life seems tortuous. In fact, you berate yourself for ever imagining that going on vacation was a good idea, anyway.
Aren't you so incredibly thankful that God is not like we are? We must be, to Him, like those impatient children in the back of the vehicle, whining for the journey to be over. But God is not like the frazzled, discouraged parent. God is calm, compassionate, capable and completely in control. Yes, He is.
Still, even though God is who He is--wonderful, merciful and powerful beyond our wildest conceptualizations--waiting is hard. Continuing to pray while we wait is hard. As baby steps result in tumbles and bruises, it can be tempting to give up hope that these feet will ever be fit to run a marathon.
But Jesus told His disciples always to pray and never give up. We must do the same.
He is good.
He is attentive.
He is not only resourceful, He is actually The Source of everything.
He is gracious. He pours out grace bountifully.
He delights in bringing His will to pass.
He delights in delighting us with His glory.
He loves us.
He is for us.
He is for us.
"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31 NLT)
How do we know God is for us?
"Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won't He also give us everything else?" (Romans 8:32 NLT)
And that's not all! No, there's more!
The Holy Spirit intercedes for us before God the Father --
"Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words . . . the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Romans 8:26, 27b ESV)
The Holy Spirit is not the only part of the godhead advocating for us as we pray. Jesus Christ Himself, at the right hand of God, is also interceding for us. If God is for us, who can stand against us? And if Jesus Christ is interceding for us, who can condemn us?
"Who is to condemn?" asks the Word of God, going on to explain: "Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." (Romans 8:34 ESV)
This points back to Romans 8:1 -- "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Jesus deflected our condemnation by dying for us, and He stands at the right hand of God as a remembrance of this victory.
The price has been paid. The death was died, the blood shed. Jesus did it. It's settled. God triumphed. Jesus rose from the grave to eternal life, and the devil, sin and death have no power over Him or His.
Since God is for us, and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are actively interceding for us, we will absolutely experience the goodness of God's unfailing love.
God is invincible, and we belong to Him, so everything is going to be okay.
"Everything is going to be okay." That doesn't mean trips to Hawaii or fancy houses or delicious steak dinners or good grades or sports victories or financial blessings or escapes from calamity or healing from diseases. Maybe sometimes those things will happen, but they definitely won't always happen, because although those are all nice things, they are not important things.
Important things are things like knowing God, understanding how Jesus' death and resurrection made our forgiveness and salvation possible, growing in faith and holiness, being filled with the Spirit, and advancing the Kingdom of God. These are some of the things that God deems important.
God desires for all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (see 1 Timothy 2:3-4)
If we share in His desire, and we labor in prayer for that desire, wouldn't that be what He's talking about in Romans 8:32? If He gave His own Son for us, did not spare His own beloved Son, how would He not also give us "everything else"? If He purchased our admission into Heaven at the price of His blood--paid for it in full--He's going to help us get in. Our God is mighty to save!
As we labor in prayer for the souls of those we love most, let us also remember what Jesus told His disciples just before He was crucified:
"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
(John 14:13 ESV)
"If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."
(John 14:14 ESV)
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you."
(John 15:16 ESV)
If there is anything that we can believe is according to the will of God and the name of Jesus, it is this: That the triumph of the blood of Jesus shall be made known when the Holy Spirit shines the light of truth into a formerly darkened heart, unmasking deception, trampling down evil and saving a lost soul.
Thank you, Lord, for Romans 8.
(And all the rest of the Bible, but today I am especially grateful for Romans 8.)