My wife and I recently returned from South East Asia, where we were picking up our adopted son to bring him home. I wanted to share a rather significant moment I experienced while there, related to our call to persevere in prayer.
Around 2007, I felt a rather significant shift in my life. My personal goals radically changed, and I began to deeply desire fulfillment in life in new ways. Particularly, I craved to be in full time pastoral ministry and I began to seek God on how to reach that goal. Over the next 6 years, I stayed in prayer constantly about this. In that time, I had around 5 opportunities that I was certain were going to come together and make it a reality. I went through the process each time, and each time it ended with a closed door. Great disappointment followed, but by the grace of God alone – I continued to persevere – not only in prayer but also in faith that God could be trusted in my disappointment.
Two weeks ago, my wife and I stood on top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, looking down on the city. I was contemplating how incredible it was to be in this country; how God had provided every cent for the trip; the incredible and tangible ways he had moved in the previous year and specifically in the previous 10 days to make it happen; how our adopted son was in this city and how God could have chosen anyone in the world to do what we were getting to do; and how I would have never see any of this coming years ago. And in that moment, God spoke a verse to me:
For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! Isaiah 64:4.
God laid it on my heart at that moment: we were living out a reward of perseverance. It is not a reward we expected; it was not even what we were praying for. It was a fulfillment – but not the fulfillment we thought would come. But I would not trade it for anything. It is better than what I wanted. It is better than what I asked for. If I had received what I requested when I requested it, I would have missed out on something greater.
I believe we are called to persevere in our requests, if God delays an answer. And I believe that perseverance needs to be long-suffering; we have to be in it for the long haul. I think along the way, we may face disappointments. But by God’s grace – we keep going; we keep praying; we keep hoping; we keep trusting. Because we are praying to a good Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). Our perseverance will be rewarded. And when the reward comes, we will look back and be grateful that we never gave up.