A few years ago, God answered a prayer of mine and finally said yes to my request for the Big Thing.
It doesn’t really matter what the Big Thing was — maybe it was healing, a financial breakthrough, a spouse, a job, or some other change in circumstance. Regardless, I’m sure you can relate to needing something, then praying, waiting, and nothing happening. It leaves you feeling like God is either ignoring you or punishing you for wanting it too badly.
When I told my friends that God had finally answered my prayer for the Big Thing, several of them said I was being rewarded for my faithfulness during the long wait. I understood their sentiment, and I probably would have agreed at one point. But something changed during the long wait.
As the days, months, and then years passed by, I began to see that I wanted the Big Thing because I believed it would make me happy, and I felt entitled to that happiness. I also noticed that the harder I worked to get the Big Thing, the more frustrated and miserable I became. Basically, it had become an idol, and God was being kind enough to protect me from getting the thing I was lusting after.
I very frankly told God, “OK, I get it. You’ve resisted my requests in order to show me that I’m selfish, an idolator, and a control-freak. Thank You. I appreciate You making me wait — seriously. I think it has made me a better man. So um — now that I’ve passed the test, can I have the Big Thing I’ve been waiting for?”
And in a hundred different ways, He essentially replied, “No, you can’t have it, and here’s why: I’m jealous for you, and I love you with an everlasting love” (Exodus 20:4-5, Jeremiah 31:3).
I had hoped He would be thrilled that I was handling things maturely and, as a reward, give me the Big Thing. Instead, all I got was His repeated assurance that He loved me. But that wasn’t enough — not yet. As the months then years went by, the pain of waiting multiplied. And the only thing that eventually made me feel better was to give up on the Big Thing and believe that if God wanted me to have it, He would do it in His own good time.
Granted, I still did what I could to make the Big Thing happen, but I stopped striving. And as I began waiting on God, rather than anxiously waiting on the Big Thing, my joy grew deeper, because my joy wasn’t dependent on His giving me the Big Thing, it was dependent on Him.
And then quite suddenly, out of nowhere, He gave me the Big Thing in a big way. And although I was grateful — actually, shocked — at how perfectly it all turned out, I was at peace. I didn’t feel validated by it, because it was a gift, not a trophy.
No, the Big Thing wasn’t my reward for waiting. As I waited, He had become my exceedingly great reward (Genesis 15:1). And that was more than enough.