Two exerpts from my reading found their way into my journal today. The first was from the gospel reading of the resurrection of Lazarus. We get a glimpse of Jesus' deliberate pause in the face of urgent prayers for rescue. The story also provides valuable insight to the mind of God:
"Now, Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He still remained in the same place two days."
The evangelist makes certain we understand that it was no lack of affection, no ignoring of the pleas. Jesus knew. He cared. He cared so deeply that upon seeing Mary's distress "He groaned," from His heart and wept with her. It wasn't indifference that caused Him to tarry. It was love. He loved them therefore He still remained.
The two sisters once more have different responses to their circumstances, as we all do at different times and places. Martha has resigned herself to the will of God and presumed He willed her brother's death. Mary cries out to God in frustration for not coming sooner when He could have helped. Both of them have great faith yet, both miss the mark a bit. There was a plan but they misinterpreted what that was and when/how it should have unfolded - as we all do at different times and places.
Patience. We tend to think of it as a passive, helpless stance on our part. Reverend O'Reilly explains it differently especially when it concerns God's delay in answering our prayers for those dear to us. The hard cases. It may be a wayward child, a spouse, a close friend. He tells us to be patient:
"Not only when you are suffering from aching limbs and heart, but WHEN YOU DO NOT SUCCEED in making your dear ones all that you would wish. There are certain dispositions and characters which seem naturally to defy all control or teaching or improvement. They will learn more than you think, much more than you can see, by your lessons and especially by your example.
Even should a son or daughter of yours turn out to be everything but what you trained them to be, the memory of their gentle, patient, loving mother will remain in their souls to their dying day, like a silent voice from the past bidding them to return to God and the paths of their childhood."
Sometimes the answer to our prayers is: Hold Fast. God does not always act within our preferred timetable but He is always active in response to our needs. He will not ignore our pleas, but He may well tarry, even long past the time any natural solution seems possible - because of love. He may choose us to demonstrate steadfastness and patient intercession, to be the face of Christ to those who hold such a dear place in our hearts.
If your momma heart is breaking, or your prayers seem to fall on deaf ears, take courage. You may never know what impact your faithfulness has this side of heaven, but be assured it is tremendous.