One of the most difficult actions that we may ever experience is waiting.
My husband has had to wait for me many times. Some have been out of frustration because I am waylaid for one reason or another, forgetting all but what is in front of me. Other times, too many to delineate, he has had to wait while I was in the OR. In these various circumstances a multitude of emotions can run across our hearts and minds, leaving us breathless, searching for peace.
You have had to wait as well, for different results, from varying sources: a physical test; someone’s health; an educational test; a court system; a response to your request; a child’s obedience. The waiting can be anywhere from easy to down-right painful.
What about the circumstances that leave us empty and alone, questioning if we are really loved, missed, cared for.
Quite a few years ago when my children were young, I experienced such a time. Not to bore you with unnecessary details, I found myself hospitalized for the second time within a few weeks. I experienced a relapse of complications to pancreatitis, which the doctors could not explain. In my weakened state, I was given a PIC line and monitored for several days before heading home.
If you have ever been in the hospital while ill and weak, you know that you do not always want visitors but would not say so. I was feeling super yucky and didn’t have the desire to talk to anyone.
A friend of the family came by to see me. Phil was my husband’s boss and a part-time pastor for a local church. He was and is a wonderful man, husband and boss equipped with a fantastic sense of humor. He stopped by only for a few moments.
The only thing I needed to do that night was to listen to Phil pray for me.
As I listened, I felt a little numb; then I got angry at his words that I deemed ‘insensitive’. “How could a prayer be insensitive,” you ask?
Phil had the nerve to thank God for my illness! Thanking God for my suffering, seriously?
Phil knew that I had already endured several medical procedures, leaving me unable to really take care of my children and husband, let alone myself.
And still he thanked God for all of it.
After my indignation of his prayer deflated like a helium ballon being drained by eager party-goers wanting to sound like a Wizard of Oz Munchkin, I tentatively asked God why Phil prayed this way.
The answer came in Philippians 4:4-7. It speaks on prayer, beginning with what our attitude should look like, rejoicing. We are to show others our gentleness, knowing the author of this attribute is God Almighty and that He is near to us. We are told to not be anxious about anything.
Remember the list of circumstances that cause us to wait?
So, even in our waiting we are to be patient? OK, I can try.
Then we are told further in verse 6 that in everything we are told in the NIV, “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
That is a mouth-full that causes a chain-reaction of mind-boggling, heart questioning confusion.
Prayer is simply speaking to God about what is on your mind and in your heart. He knows what is on your mind and what is in your heart already; prayer is an opportunity to spend time talking with Him about those things, just like you would do with your best friend.
The word, supplicate, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary means, to make a humble entreaty; especially: to pray to God. I looked at four dictionaries on-line and the key word in each of the definitions was a form of humility. Scripture tells us that, ‘by prayer and supplication,” we are to present our requests to God.
This word, humble, gets us to the point of the matter. To be humble is to be aware of who you are in relation to whom you are speaking or addressing. In this case, Phil knew who he was, a man in service to God, follower of Christ. He also knew to whom he was speaking: The Creator of my body.
We are then instructed to have thanksgiving as we make our requests known to God. Hmm, thanksgiving, huh?
So, Phil was acting out in faith what the scriptures told him to do.
Once I came down off my self-made pedestal, my prayer life and discussions with God have never been the same.
Because I realized that God understood the waiting game. He has waited and waited to be acknowledged by man on many levels; on many levels I am sure He has been disappointed at the lack of recognition of Who He is. He has waited for men to come to him with their weary hearts and minds, desiring to give each and every one of them rest as stated in Matthew 11:28 – 30.
I finally understood that my prayer, any prayer, was an act of worship because when I spoke to Him humbly with thanksgiving, I was recognizing Who He was and is and who I am not. I am not God.
I also understood that when I told Him I was thankful for difficulties, like my illness, I was being obedient and I was recognizing that it was because of my illness, or circumstance, that I was privileged enough to come before my Mighty God.
That is it.
A privilege to speak to God; to be recognized by God; to be accepted by God; to be listed to by God, Creator of all.
I finally saw that the waiting game posed a priceless opportunity in front of me, in front of anyone willing and able to see: the privilege to talk with God with thanksgiving for the horrible situation I found myself.
Every time since I have thanked God for the ugly, unkind, unforgiving, judging, unfair and what I deem as unnecessary in my life. I have then found what the rest of Philippians 4 says, I have received God’s peace in the midst of tragedy, heartache, confusion and suffering.
Possibly you are in a difficult situation and are waiting. The best type of waiting is done with the assurance that God, Creator of all, is listening, desiring to hear from you and respond to you. You may not always get what you want, when you want. For me and my illness, I had to wait an additional 30 days to recover from my illness. Doctors did not have any understanding of why.
However, I came out of that dark time with the knowledge that God loved me for exactly who I was and that He was for me, not against me. Ever since, I have looked at God and prayer quite differently than most people. I am so thankful for Phil Frye and the invaluable lesson God taught me through his obedience to God and compassion toward me.