Last night we had to let Charis cry herself back to sleep in the middle of the night. She has been waking up at 2 a.m. every night for last few weeks, mostly because we have been on the road, and now that we are at home we want to get her back on schedule. It wasn’t easy though. As I lay in bed and listened to her go from whimpering, to wailing, to moaning––as though she were in the throws of some terrible agony, I wanted so desperately to go and pick her up and give her a bottle, which was all she really wanted. But I knew, because of the advice of countless friends, that if we continue to let her do this we would be getting up with her at 2 a.m. until she was practically in high school.
And so, I lay there and did nothing, except pray for her (and for us) that we would all soon go back to sleep. And it occurred to me that this is probably the way it is with some of the things we adults pray for.
Often, I suspect, we ask God for things that are neither good for us in the short-term nor that bode well for our future. We are infants crying out in the night for another dose of formula, for more food in our bellies, when in fact what we need is rest and the discipline that comes from learning to wait patiently for the Lord. Even as my not responding to Charis’s cry, was an intentional act on my part, done out of my love for her and concern for her future, so too is God’s silence most often an act of grace and compassion. By not giving us what we want, God often gives us something much better––namely, what we need. Or, as David Platt recently put it in a sermon, “What a terrible thing it is when God gives to sinful creatures exactly what they want.”
My encouragement for you today is to remember then, that no matter what it is you are crying out to God for, be assured that He is listening. Though, like Habakkuk we may say “O Lord, How long shall I cry for help and you will not hear?” (Hab. 1:2), we can rest assured that not only does God hear, but that He is ever at work in the lives of those who trust Him. And it may very well be for us, as God said to Habakkuk, “Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your day that you would not believe if told.”