Have you ever found yourself asking God for strength and wisdom? I know I have (quite often in fact). Whenever I’ve found myself facing a difficult decision and in need of some major clarity or when I’m battling a significant disappointment and need some serious mental muscle, I’ve prayed for strength and wisdom. Maybe you have too. If you have, think about the last time you did pray for these things and ask yourself how God answered them. Were you happy about response you got? Did you see the value it in? I think these are important things we think about.
There’s a big misconception that if you ask God for something like wisdom, He’ll provide you with an immediate boost right away. While that does sometimes happen, more often than not there’s nothing immediate about His response. In fact, I’ve found that He usually doesn’t response in the way we might expect. I can’t think of a time when I’ve woken up the next morning after pouring my heart out into prayer and found that I had what I was seeking. It takes so much more.
I believe there’s a reason for that. If God immediately gave us everything we asked for, would there be a need for faith? Probably not. That’s because faith doesn’t work that way. It’s not built with quick little victories, but with long, drawn-out grudge matches. So how does God give wisdom and strength to those who ask for it? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s always come from God working through a significant life event. Let me give you an example.
There was a time when I asked God to provide me with strength. There was a really important relationship that was breaking down I was desperately trying to fix. Unfortunately, everything I did seemed to make things worse. It was extremely discouraging, but I knew that I needed to strength that only God could give to make it through. God did respond, but it wasn’t in the way that I was hoping for. In fact, things for the most part got worse. Frustration, discouragement, and bitterness continued to mount all the while things were getting extremely stressful for me at work. It seemed that instead of throwing cold water on the situation, God cranked up the heat.
Fortunately, this past Sunday, I realized something about that situation as my pastor gave a sermon on Joseph in the book of Genesis. I realized that God had answered my prayer for strength. He used my difficult and challenging situation to build the strength that I was seeking. No, He didn’t crank up the heat, but He made sure that I was in a position to grow. There’s a verse in Romans 8 that I absolutely love and one that I highly recommend committing to memory. Verse 28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Here’s another translation I really like, “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”
In other words, God works through our situation, often in ways we really aren’t looking for and ways that aren’t particularly comfortable. Wisdom is the same way, it’s not imparted with ease, but usually with a tough lesson. I hope that doesn’t discourage you from asking God for strength and wisdom. I truly believe that they’re great things to pray for, it would just be foolish to pretend that they are acquired easily. God will answer your request, but be prepared for a bit of a holding pattern for a time. Be at peace and know that God is working in your situation.