Question: I’ve been looking for a new job, but so far without success. If I have prayed and am doing my part, why isn’t God helping me?
Answer: The way God works in our lives and the way He chooses to do things is often past our comprehension. It’s mysterious, it’s humbling, and it usually takes faith and patience. His purposes and timetable are often different from ours.
When things are rough, when you feel that they’re not turning out the way you had hoped, when you feel your prayers aren’t being answered, when the trials of life seem too much to bear, when the battle seems too long, when your faith is under attack, when you’re feeling weary and aren’t sure if you can endure much longer, you can climb up onto the foundation that God has provided for your faith—the many promises and encouraging words contained in His Word—and rest in that safe haven.
One such promise is that “you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours”1—but God doesn’t promise that it will be yours instantly. His timetable is not always the same as ours. There are times when He does bring instant answers to prayer, but there are also many times when He allows time for our faith to mature and develop, like fine wine. Patience is the mark of a vintage faith, one that is deep and rich and full-bodied.
Throughout history God has tested and tried people’s faith through not granting immediate answers to their prayers. The Israelites waited thousands of years for the Messiah to come, and doubtless they often prayed and pleaded with God to send Him, but God waited until His timing was exactly right.
Patience is not an easy virtue to cultivate. In fact, it goes entirely against the way the world today operates, which is all about getting quick results. We can experience instant miracles and answers to prayer when God knows that’s what’s best, but sometimes He may want us to experience the tests, trials, and challenges of life that arise when His answers don’t come immediately.
Faith isn’t manifested only in our ability to receive immediate, miraculous answers to prayer; it is also manifested in endurance, longsuffering, and the patience to hold on even when we don’t see immediate results from our prayers. So “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”2