Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:9-11, NIV)
I pitched a spiritual tantrum right there in the middle of my prayer time.
After praying for the same thing for years, I begrudgingly “reminded” God that a hard, cold stone wouldn’t do when I asked for some wonderful, soft, sweet-smelling bread. And He could give His snakes to someone else! Surely He knew my prayer requests were not for trivial stuff. So when I ask for something, I fully expected Him to answer as requested. My tantrum involved “reminding” Him of His promises to meet my needs and answer my prayers.
God gently placed me in “time out” with Isaiah 40:31. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Of course, my clue was the word “wait.” As I pondered that verse, I thought of two Old Testament people who illustrated the benefits of waiting on God – and the danger of running on ahead of Him.
God’s Red Lights
In I Samuel 1, we read how Hannah prayed for a son sorrowfully, yet expectantly, for quite some time. As she prayed, she waited patiently for God to answer. Ultimately, God granted her request by giving her a son, Samuel, the great OT prophet. Her waiting consisted of a humble, faithful heart that was fully dependent on God and His best answer on His time schedule.
In contrast, Abraham’s wife, Sarah, didn’t have time to wait. As a long time member of AARP, she became impatient with God’s promise of a son (Genesis 12) and decided to help Him out by offering her handmaid as a surrogate mother (Genesis 16). To this day, her impatience is seen in the ongoing hostility between the Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. Not waiting on God carries severe and long-lasting consequences.
Though not as globally impactful as Sarah’s impatience, when I’ve raced ahead of God, the results have been painful and regrettable. Yet, when I wait patiently on my Heavenly Father who knows what is best for me, I can trust Him to providentially answer and not surprise me with stones and snakes.
If I wait on God to work through all the “behind-the-scene” details, the running and walking of my life happen much easier. The secret is in the waiting – and not pitching a spiritual tantrum while I wait.