/ MULYALE MUTISYA
Our interaction with God is not transactional, but relational. The quicker one realizes that, the better. That is why we pray for days, months, or even years to receive a certain response from God. That is why we search through the Scriptures to find a single truth. We search, linger, and wait for answers that only take but a moment to arrive, and suddenly. We all know that, ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows’ (James 1:17), and so we beseech Him for them. We quickly realize that once we ask for whatever it is we want from God, we have not just opened a door to receive from Him, but a door to relate with Him. And since the latter comes before the former, many walk away and quit asking God because ‘He did not answer me’. Little did they know that God first had to prepare them to receive what they asked for. For before God gives us a thing, He ensures that we first have Him, and no Believer can ever come to a place and say that they have had enough of God. And so every time we go to God to ask for one thing, He first gives us another aspect of Himself. Whatever our circumstances, until we come to a point where we say to God, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing’ (Psalm 16:2), then all that we ask for are idols that we raise before God. Yet, He clearly says, ‘I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols’ (Isaiah 42:8).
In our natural disposition, we would prefer God to be transactional- we ask for whatever and then He gives it to us there and then. We hate the idea of waiting, but see the necessity of changing. Yet, change takes time. It is relational, not transactional. While we were once lost in sin, God had to painstakingly watch us take all the wrong roads and make all the wrong choices. ‘These things you have done and I kept silent’ (Psalm 50:12). But the time came when God was ready to act, and He says, ‘For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant’ (Isaiah 42:14). God waited for us, but we find it impossible to wait on the God who was patient with us all along. We fail to recognize that once we seek a matter from the Courts of God, a seed of inception grows in us. We walk about like a pregnant woman who waits and watches as the belly protrudes to accommodate the growing baby. Unfortunately, some abort the baby before they can even see the light of life by the pretext, ‘God did not answer’. But those who are patient enough wait for a bit, and when the time for delivery comes, the birth pangs begin. ‘As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in pain, so were we in your presence, O Lord’ (26:v17). However, at the moment of birth, some when they sense pain and discomfort throw in the towel and refuse to bring forth the child. Their narrative then becomes, ‘We were with child, we writhed in pain, but we gave birth to the wind’ (v18).
Many who terminate the child is because of unbelief, love for comfort, or hatred for pain and suffering. Some can wait, while others can wait for as long, but would not reach to a point of endurance. They simply give up at their birthing stage and so give birth to the wind. Whatever the case, such do not ‘let patience have her perfect work, that you may be mature and complete, wanting nothing’ (James 1:4). Perfection/maturity can only come through patience, because in the waiting, we build a relationship with God. We do not merely transact with Him, like an addict dealing with a dealer would – swift and prompt, till next time. Patience ensures that we do not merely swipe the tips of our hands with God’s as we receive what we want from Him, but that we have clasped hands with Him enough to feel His palpitations to the point that we never let go. It is at this point that we have built a relationship with Him to see that He is the only good thing we have. We then come to a point of saying like Paul, ‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:11-13). Clearly, patience is learnt, and it is only learnt when one lingers and builds a relationship with God, our ‘Teacher’ (Job 36:22).
When we learn patience, God gives us strength in order to birth out the seed that He deposited in us while we were waiting. Although this seed is unnoticeable to us, when we experience pain and discomfort it is then that we realize that we were with child all along. The question now becomes; Will you give birth or abort? At this point, we are simply not waiting for what we expected, but for what only God knows He planted. Those who in their groaning, writhing, and discomfort turn to God receive additional strength to birth out what has been in them. In their turning to God, they again build a stronger relationship with Him, then God deposits another seed in them, and so the cycle continues. One enters into a relationship with God, and since this relationship never ends, one only discovers different qualities of God in the delivery phases. The more a Believer goes through this process of refinement, the quicker they align with God who asks, ‘Do I bring the moment of birth and not give delivery? Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?’ (Isaiah 66:9). Surely not!
Nothing can prepare us enough for our delivery seasons, because not all deliveries are the same. We cannot really know what to expect, and so it is only patience in God that sustains us. That is why David notes, ‘I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry . . . Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust’ (Psalm 40:1,4). Our endurance in birthing out the different and many qualities of God is merely to prepare us for the great reveal. Jesus says, ‘A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world’ (John 16:21). He expounds, ‘So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away you joy’ (v22). What seems like waiting for requests is actually God moulding us to know Him deeper so that we can be perfect and entire when He returns ‘in his glory, and all the angels with him’ (Matthew 25:31). In the meantime, God uses every opportunity to teach us that, ‘In your patience, possess ye your souls’ (Luke 21:19). This is because while patience may bring forth what we had asked for, its ultimate goal is that our souls are intact in God.
So, in the delivery room of patience, we wait and endure, because ‘we know that tribulation produces patience; patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope does not disappoint us; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us’ (Romans 5:3-5). Thus, the final goal of patience for a Believer is not just to receive what we ask and desire, but to deliver the ‘fullness’ (Colossians 2:10) of God in us. But those who abort the baby at whatever stage pay for the consequences themselves.
‘Even the worst of women can learn from your ways. On your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor; I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. Yet in spite of all this you say, ‘I am innocent; his anger shall turn from me.’ But I will pass judgement on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned’ ~ Jeremiah 2:33-35
‘I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery and who shed blood; I will bring you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger‘ ~ Ezekiel 16:38
‘Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord‘ ~ Psalm 27:14