wrestling and waiting

“Father, teach us all how to wait.”
Andrew Murray

(shelf fungus / Julie Cook / 2017)

I must confess that I’ve been in a prayerful desert as of late.
Meaning I have been petitioning God long and hard…
yet it seems that my pleas just fall upon a vast emptiness….
as in…deaf ears.

However I know that I am not alone in my frustration or perplexity
of this seemingly one way spiritual conversation.

I am not the first nor will I be the last to beat upon the gates of Heaven
only to hear…what is perceived to be…..nothing.

Yet on and on I pray with little to show for my diligence.

Or so it seems…I go unanswered.

There are tears.
There is anger.
There is frustration.
There is indifference…
and there is a sense of hopelessness….
It all begins all over again….
As a determined penitent rolls up her sleeves, continuing on, unabated.

It is because I will not be deterred…
not by the whispered doubts and naysaying….
not by the one who would like nothing more than for me to quit,
give up and walk away in disgust and frustrated anger.

And the truth is that somedays are indeed much harder then others…

And so today, as I was continuing to walk through the desert,
focused and imploring….
I actually stumbled upon a small respite of wisdom.

For I learn just how old my plight actually is….
As the wisdom of those who have trod this path before offer me a cup
of refreshing living water….

My child, hear about another delusion.
There are also other monks who work on all the virtues together,
and trust in their works. And when they pray and ask something from God,
they do not seek it with humility, but with insolence and pretension,
as if they have obligated God with their toils and therefore He owes it to them.
When they are not heard and the Lord does not do their will,
they are troubled and greatly grieved.
Then when the Devil our enemy sees them with this ignorance,
he attacks them with twisted thoughts and teaches them saying,
“See? You are struggling so hard even until death to work for Him,
and He doesn’t even listen to you!
So why do you work for Him?”
Then he pushes him to blaspheme the name of God,
so that he may enter inside him and possess him,
and then people bind him with chains….

But you, my beloved child in the Lord, since you are obedient,
and confess everything openly, do not be afraid.

excerpt from Elder Joseph the Hesychast.
Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast.
An Epistle to a Hesychast Hermit. Chapter XII.

For the full reflection see the post:

There are times when our prayers seem so one sided.
On and on we pray, beseeching and imploring and yet….we hear no movement..
we see no results.

We often expect, or if the truth be told… we actually demand,
that after we’ve demonstrated an unrelenting persistence of time, energy and focus…
then surely God will move Heaven and Earth in order to show us how much He cares
and just how well He listens and just how much He agrees with each
and every component of our prayer…never mind if there are others involved in
said prayer…

As it is all just so utterly frustrating when we believe that all we see and hear
is merely empty silence.

No movement, no shifting, no little glimmer that things are working in the direction
of our desire, need, hope, want….

And for many, it seems almost cruel…this silence.

Yet we are told that no prayer goes unheard.

I once heard it put that God answers prayers in one of three ways….
Not now….

And more often then not, it is the ‘not now’ that is most vexing.

And so we pray on…

Because He knows and He sees and He is listening…

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end,
so that what you hope for may be fully realized.

Hebrews 6:11

16 comments on “wrestling and waiting

  1. lorriebowden says:

    Ah! Yes…that thing called patience…and faith that it is all exactly as it should be.
    I understand!
    Many blessings this Sunday morning ❤

  2. @vapor_sage says:

    Knowing we’re not alone in this dessert doesn’t help the frustration, we can’t see our fellows wandering aimlessly demanding an answer. For me, I’m immediately given peace when I remember “if it be your will”

  3. David says:

    Julie have you come across a book by Pete Greig entitled ‘Dirty Glory’ – I am reading it at the moment. Pete Greig founded the 24-7 prayer in the UK. I have been really blessed by this book. David

  4. You are in a transition time and they are never easy. God has not left you or turned a deaf ear to you, it is just that it takes time to get us ready for the next phase or purpose. And it all comes down to the dread “P” word, patience. Toward the end of my teaching career it became inscreasingly harder and harder to keep going. I was tired, I was burnt-out, and my health was deterioriating. So I put a CD with ‘ONE DAY AT A TIME, SWEET JESUS” and often listened to it on the way to work and then on the way home. And just staying focused on that one step, one day at a time helped. I often wondered If I’d survive the year or die in my classroom. Now it has been nearly 17 years since I retired. I wish I could help in some way other than to reassure you that this too shall pass and once again you will find a measure of joy and happiness and peace in your life again. But it’s always easier to believe that when it’s not oneself in the “eye of the storm!” Hang in there my friend. You are strong and made of stern stuff, and you will make it through this.
    Love, N 🙂 ❤

  5. What a wonderful, heartfelt post, Julie! Yes, waiting on God is difficult for all of us. Your post encourages me that I’m not alone in this… and then you inspire me to persevere in prayer. I love that, and by the way, the reading is beautiful. Thank you. ❤ and hugs!

  6. Lynda says:

    God is not only with each one of us, God is within us. God lives within our hearts. We are never abandoned. Yet at times, we feel that our prayers are not heard; however, in reality God knows our desires before we express them. During the times that feel spiritually dry, all that we are asked to do is to show up, to continue to communicate with God even when we don’t feel heard for God is always there. Spiritual desolation, as Saint Ignatius called it, is a challenging time but we are asked to hang onto the times that we were in consolation and that will help us through the desolation. Advent is a time of waiting for our Lord to come; this year for you it will take on special significance as you mourn the losses that you have experienced this past year and look to the future life being carried by your daughter-in-law. Blessings to you and your family Julie!

  7. Melissa Zelniker-Presser says:

    I hear you friend, I am there too…

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