It all feels a little surreal.
Last week I was in Uganda with my little family, waiting in uncertainty regarding our two adoptions. It’s a familiar place. With every turn, another thing is compounded into the pile of an already overflowing mess of grief and heartache. And I know I’m not the only one struggling to live through seemingly endless transitions and countless unknowns.
But today, I’m hidden under a canopy of oak trees, their leaves falling. I’m sitting on the bank of a river surrounded by thick woods, somewhere in Pennsylvania. It feels like absolute comfort with a pumpkin spice latte in hand (cliche I know but soaking the fall vibes up before my return to life on the equator). The breeze cool, but hinting a crisp fall is just around the corner. I keep pinching myself because surely this is a dream.
It’s been such a heavy season.
I feel myself beginning to come undone. It’s an answer to prayer that I’m even here, but as I begin to breathe in deep, I feel that all too familiar ache with the heaviness of all the countless prayer requests that aren’t yet answered (or at least answered the way I’d like them to be).
A verse comes to mind as I glance along the shoreline to all the oak trees towering over the riverbank. There’s a small stream that runs over the stones and the roots of a mighty oak are stretched out as if to lap up that cool, crisp water.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
– Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)
The leaves begin to rustle and acorns fall from the trees above. I pick up a small one that has rolled towards me. Holding this seed in my hand, my heart begins to beat softly as a gentle whisper speaks to the deep and aching parts.
There is a promise hidden within this tiny acorn that has not yet come to pass. A promise, that if planted and waited for, can grow into a strong and sturdy tree. However, there are many growing pains in the process of the becoming. So many hardships must be endured.
It takes patience.
It takes perseverance.
It takes surrender.
It takes absolute trust in the One who causes the seed to grow.
I’m not yet at the place where I can marvel at how the Lord has been working all of this out for the good. I’m still in the middle of the mess, grappling with the waiting and wrestling with the unanswered prayers. And yet, I desire to wait this season out well. One hand holding tight to hope, while the other surrendering my expectations of how it should look.
Yet, despite all of it, God is still so good.
Psalm 34:18 promises that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit”. He doesn’t promise that we won’t have the pain. Just like the mighty oak must weather the storm and root deeper in dry times, those moments of chaos and struggle produce an inward growing. Time passes and eventually we see the promise that was hidden within that small acorn once planted in the ground.
In his perfect timing.
I long to be like one of these giant oak trees with my roots outstretched, reaching daily for the source of life. Strong enough to withstand the winds that howl and heat that threatens to wear me down. Despite the circumstances towering over me like mountains, I desire to remain steadfast.
To root a little deeper.
To reach out a little wider.
To rest a little longer.
To hold fast to the truth and promise of His word.
Isaiah 61:3 says, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
And whether we pray with words, with tears, or with aching, He is with us. Immanuel.
And He is using our unanswered prayers to grow us and draw us closer to Him.
He can be found on the rocky terrain of the mountain.
He can be found in the heat of the desert.
He can be found by quiet and calm streams.
He can be found in the weariness of the wilderness.
He can be found in the mess of the mundane.
And He can be found in the ache of the waiting.
When we receive the promise, we must also trust him in the process.
And everything passes through his hands. Even when we don’t understand.
Especially… when we don’t understand.
What is the promise you are holding onto? How are you walking out this waiting season while those prayers have yet to be answered?