I sometimes find it difficult to believe that God hears me and would want to have a relationship with me. After all, there are billions of people on earth and it’s easy to feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things. It’s easy to wonder if He’s really there, especially when we don’t get immediate answers to our prayers.
When we pray and ask for something we might get a clear “Yes” or a “No”, or it may sometimes seem like He isn’t responding at all. And sometimes He says “Not yet”.
Over time I can look back and see how certain no responses worked out better for me than a yes would have. It’s those no answers where I can’t see how things have worked out for the better that are harder to live with. I’ve had not yet responses as well, like the experience I’m about to share.
About six months after we had started trying to have a child, I was praying one day and asked God “Ok, this seems to be taking a while… what is going on Lord?” The next time I was reading my Bible I happened to read about Hannah, Samuel’s mother (1 Samuel 1:1-20). At the time I didn’t think too much about it. It was a familiar Bible story that I had heard several times before.
The next time I happened to read a passage about Sarah and Abraham, Isaac’s parents (Genesis 21:1-7) and again this was a familiar Bible story. It wasn’t until my third devotional time, which was about Manoah and his wife, Samson’s parents (Judges 13:1-24), that I started to think that this might not be my average devotional experience. I asked myself what these stories have in common and concluded that each of the couples had to wait, sometimes a long time, but eventually they all had at least one child.
I started to wonder how many similar stories there are in the Bible. I found six major stories including Elizabeth and Zachariah (John the Baptist’s parents), Rachel and Jacob (Joseph’s parents) and Rebekah and Isaac (Esau and Jacob’s parents). Having three out of about six stories put in front of me in succession seemed like more than a coincidence. After this all was quiet on this topic for about four years.
The silence was broken in mid January. We had just come back home from visiting our families for Christmas. Our first Sunday back at church the sermon was about not giving up and continuing to pray. This was the first time since those devotional readings that I had felt any prompting on this subject, so I prayed. At the time my 36th birthday was a few weeks away and I remember thinking a child would be a pretty amazing birthday present, then I went on about the rest of my day.
I didn’t realize it then but the timing worked out that my next cycle was supposed to turn over on my birthday. It didn’t. Three days after my birthday I took a few pregnancy tests and they each came back positive. On Valentines Day our doctor’s office called and confirmed that my blood test was positive as well and I was pregnant (without any medical intervention). After years of waiting it all seemed surreal at first. Eight months later we met our daughter, Eleanor, on Thanksgiving weekend and we are very thankful for her!
During those years of “not yet” there were times when it seemed like praying didn’t matter and God didn’t hear us. We tend to like immediate answers to our prayers but our timing is not necessarily God’s timing.
One of the reasons we chose the name Eleanor was because one of its meanings is “God is my light”. We learned in a much more tangible way that even though sometimes it may not seem like it, God is there, giving us hope, listening and guiding us as we wait on Him. We pray He will be the guiding light in our daughter’s life.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5 (NIV)