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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Joy As We Wait

“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks,
and send some to those who have nothing prepared.
This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve,
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Today I decided to have lunch in the garden. The sun was high in the sky and the huge fluffy clouds reminded me of the white filling that is used for stuffing soft pillows. The autumn air had a chilling nip that caused me to zip up my jacket. Nonetheless, today the flowers were exceptionally beautiful! The wonderful thing that I love about the garden of my heart is that all species of flowers bloom every single day for my enjoyment. As I sat down on the garden bench and began to eat my sandwich I seemed to sense a tug on my heart to move closer to an area of the garden where the peace lilies bloomed profusely. I immediately got up and started walking toward the peace lilies. These pure white lilies seemed to be stretching their long slender necks toward heaven in joyful praise to their creator. I especially loved looking at the peace lilies today because my heart seemed to be at peace and joy seemed to be bubbling inside my spirit. Yes, today was a “no worry” day.

Satan tried his best to spoil my mood by reminding me that I still had many unanswered prayers. He also reminded me that I hate waiting. I didn’t like those thoughts so I shouted, “Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ, be gone!” He left.

After Satan left I felt the presence of the Master Gardner but he seemed to be staying out of my sight. That was not a major concern because I again began to feel joy bubbling up inside of me. I was amazed that I was so happy when I still had so many unanswered prayers sitting on God’s desk.

The truth is that I am waiting for God to answer many prayers. I am praying for my friends who are in need of jobs. There are prayers for successful surgeries and for good medical test reports. There are prayers for the healing. There are unanswered prayers regarding my family. There are at least a hundred unanswered prayers for people who do not know the Lord and seemingly don’t want to know him. There are many prayers for people who are walking away from God instead of walking with God. There are specific prayers for provision, reconciliation, and emotional healing. There are so many seemingly unanswered prayers and yet I am still experiencing the joy of Jesus. Even with the burdens I carry I am experiencing peace and the joy of the Lord and that is where I find my strength.

Waiting for God’s answers is hard. I have found that when I focus on the waiting I become discouraged. Today in the garden I begin to read God’s Word. I am reading and rereading the words of Nehemiah and I am finding them especially meaningful. Nehemiah had some very good advice regarding how I can make the most of every day I live, even if it is a day of waiting or rejoicing. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy some choice food and sweet drinks.” Now I don’t know about where you live, but here in North Carolina that means barbecue and sweet tea! Then Nehemiah said, “Send some to those who have nothing prepared.” I have yet to knock on someone’s door with muffins or a casserole and have them send me away. No, it’s just the opposite. Folks respond in joy when someone brings them food that they don’t have to cook themselves. When I experience their delight then before I know it I’m smiling too! Sharing is always something that breeds joy. Nehemiah also said, “This is a sacred day to our Lord.” No doubt this was a very special day for Nehemiah because he was reading the law to the Israelites. The law had not been read to them for the many years that they were in exile. For them it was a day for rejoicing. As for me this event is also a reminder to me that all my days are sacred in God’s sight. I am lavishly loved by my Father. This is a reason for incredible joy.

Nehemiah now waves the red flag of caution and tells the people DO NOT grieve. God was with them. If I remember that I have an unanswered prayer it is not because it is in the trash basket or because it has been lost. No way! I can be certain that God has my prayer in his “in box” and that some day he is going to move my request over to his “out box.” Wow! That is one more reason for joy. Nehemiah’s words also remind me that the joy of the Lord is my strength. It is good for me to remember that grief is common after loss, but prayers in process do not qualify as loss.

Without a doubt, Satan will try to be a joy buster! But how I wait for an answer to prayer is my choice. I can wait in frustration and fear or I can choose to wait patiently and in peace. But I must believe that God is completely able to accomplish what I have asked him to do. If God’s final answer is “no” then I must believe that God will be my strength and that his grace will be sufficient.

So today I am in the garden dancing the dance of joy! My delight sends me twirling around in circles until I fall into a cluster of bright golden lantana. What a coincidence, the flowers that I have landed in remind me of a “basket containing gold.” It has been my experience that when I joyfully wait for an answer to prayer and when that answer is finely delivered it is like receiving a basket of gold! This blessing is so incredible that it shines in golden radiance because it has God’s name written all over the answer. Usually, God even throws in a bonus surprise making the answer even more precious. God loves to make his answer so exceptionally unique that he often goes above and beyond what I have requested. God does this so that there is absolutely no way that I could ever doubt that the answer came from any source other than my heavenly Father. It is also God’s way of being glorified!


What prayers do you have sitting in God’s “in box”?

Are you experiencing joy or frustration as you wait for answers?

How do you feel about Nehemiah’s antidote for waiting?


Dear God,

I pray that you will teach me to wait joyfully. Thank you that you do not want me to waste my days sitting around in fear or pacing back and forth in impatience. What great ideas Nehemiah had for celebrating as I wait for your answers. God you want me to eat and drink and to continue living my days in a spirit of joy. You want me to share with others from my resources. You caution me not to grieve for grief is the salve for loss. I am comforted to know that my prayers are not lost but rather they are a work in progress. God, I thank you that all of my days are precious to you and that not a single hair on my head goes unaccounted for. God this day I pray that you will give me a fresh anointing of your oil of joy as I wait. Protect me from Satan discouragement and help me to remember that he is a “joy buster”. May I never forget that your joy is my strength as I wait for your perfect answers.

In Your Son’s Name I Pray. Amen.