It was my daughter Layla’s ninth birthday last week, but if you’d asked her, it was more like her birthday season. Five months ago, Layla not only started talking about what gifts she wanted for her birthday— she began developing a meal plan for the big day (donuts, a Lunchable, and tacos). Layla deemed the day before her birthday, “Birthday Eve.” She went around talking about it to anyone who would listen, including a Target cashier, who thrilled Layla by correctly guessing that she was turning nine.
When I stopped by the park for a visit the other day, there were only three people there: a father, his preschool son, and a middle-aged guy walking his dog. Not long after I arrived, I overheard two conversations that left me intrigued.
It was my dear friend Aaron’s birthday and he had no idea what surprise was in store for him: My family and I were going to drive 12 hours and show up at his house unannounced (don’t worry, we planned it with his wife, Laura). The visit was a long time coming. Aaron and I hadn’t seen each other in person for three years. The long distance, expense and our growing families made it hard to do more than talk on the phone.
I know someone who’s trapped in a dead-end job right now. He’s been there for years and he’s trying to make the best of it, but realistically, his resume is probably far too stale for him to get a different job for which he’s qualified. I know a woman who has an ongoing chronic condition that doctors can’t fix. You’d never know it if you met her — the embarrassing symptoms, the limitations. She longs for some medical breakthrough that will fix the problem, but there’s little hope for that and for whatever reason, God hasn’t healed her.
Last Friday night, my two-year-old son had a cold that suddenly started getting worse. He began coughing harder and harder, and eventually, he started wheezing. I normally would’ve deferred to my wife on something like this, but she was out of town, so I decided to wait it out. When his breathing became progressively shallow, I drove him to the emergency room in the middle of the night. They told me that a virus had provoked a severe asthma attack.
I wanted the job. I wanted it badly. And a few weeks after making it to the final round of interviews, I learned that I had just missed the cut. I called my friend Shon to share the bad news. “Is the door totally shut?” he asked.
My seven-month-old nephew Canaan was dying and nobody knew it, including his doctor, who had misdiagnosed his digestive issues. The real issue was Hirschsprung’s disease, one of the leading causes of death for kids like Canaan, who has Down Syndrome.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” says Scripture. A lot of us feel sick with unmet hopes and unanswered prayers right now. I know people who are waiting on jobs, babies, marriage, healing, and restoration of relationships, among other things. The needs are as unique as the people and their circumstances. I’m in my own race right now, and yesterday I wrote some thoughts to put words to what it feels like. Maybe you can relate.
“Gross.” That’s typically not the word I think of when contemplating a miracle Jesus performed, but there’s one exception.
Ten years ago this month, I started the day by getting on my face before God and saying, “Lord, I’m getting down on the floor because if I get up, I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid.” I had good reason to be concerned.
I have a friend who was once known for her strength, and now she’s becoming known for her weakness. Rachel Wilhelm, a popular guest writer here, has felt her body break down over the last year. The only diagnosis doctors can offer is fibromyalgia, a mystery illness known for pain, acute weakness, and frequent sleep disturbance. Yet somehow in the midst of it, God has taken Rachel’s weakness and made something strong out of it. Here’s her story, in her own words:
My wife and I did not intend to have another year of sweeping changes in 2016. We never do. We told ourselves this year was going to be different. The roller coaster was finally going to stop. No more big transitions like the previous eight years of marriage.
Last week I made an unexpected phone call to an old friend, and five days later, countless thousands of people had heard about the conversation.
There are a lot of people out there who are waiting for Big Things and they can’t seem to get a breakthrough. I got the chance to hear from some of those people this week when I shared an essay at Boundless called “So Grateful God Made Me Wait.” Many responded, some whose hearts are aching as they wait, others who are grateful the wait is over.
Last year, God finally answered yes to my years-long prayer request for the “Big Thing.” It doesn’t really matter what the Big Thing was. Maybe it was healing, a financial breakthrough, a reconciled relationship, a job or some other change in circumstance. Whatever it was, my waiting experience was like that of so many other people: a constant fight with the lingering fear that God was punishing me for wanting it too badly.