"You did awesome things that we did not expect."
- Isaiah 64:3 NIV
Over the years in my walk with God, I've discovered that when we are in desperate circumstances, and we enter into fervent prayer, the Lord may choose to do something totally unexpected. For instance, about six years ago, I was earnestly seeking the Lord for a job. I had been a stay-at-home mom for more than 20 years, and my sons were now grown. My husband and I both agreed that it was the perfect time for me to re-enter the workforce. But as I tried my best to seek employment, doors kept closing in my face. I remember praying, "Lord, what's going on here? You see how hard I've been trying to get a job. And You know how desperately we need another income. Please help us!" A short time later, a door opened for me to join the staff of my son, John's, growing ministry. After seeking God's wisdom in the matter, and receiving a number of confirmations from Him, I became convinced that He wanted me to take advantage of this ministry opportunity. "Lord, that's not what I meant when I asked You for a job!" I recall telling Him. I expected a job with a regular income, and this one would be done strictly on a volunteer basis. As I continued to talk to the Lord about it, He gave me a promise from His Word to stand on. It was Proverbs 14:23 (NIV), "All hard work brings a profit." I was convinced. But now my husband had to be convinced, and I left that part up to the Lord. As it turned out, it was more than five years before I finally began to reap some financial rewards from my ministry efforts. And all that time, God met our needs and sustained us. As I look back, I'm so thankful that God answered my prayers in ways I never expected, because serving Him and others in this way has given me more joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment than I ever imagined.
When my husband, Joe, lost his job last year because his company was moving to another part of the country, he began getting anxious and depressed. He did his best to keep busy with projects around our house, and that helped to some extent. But the thing he seemed to enjoy most was eating the wrong kinds of food. Now my husband knew better than to eat unwisely. He had been getting warnings from his doctors for years. But the anxiety he was experiencing over his long-term unemployment was getting the best of him, and common sense seemed to go out the window. Though I was careful not to keep too much "junk" food around the house, my husband started bringing it home. Suddenly, it seemed like I was completely surrounded with every kind of high calorie, high fat food I could imagine. Out of desperation, I began pleading with the Lord for help. "God, You've got to do something! I can't go on like this any longer!" Then came the afternoon when Joe told me that he was having chest pains. As it turned out, he had a heart attack right after I got him to the hospital, and he nearly lost his life. I remember sitting in the waiting room feeling so guilty, while the doctors were fighting to keep my husband alive. "Lord, that's not what I meant when I asked You to help Joe to come to his senses about his eating!" That's when He brought to mind a Scripture that I knew only too well: "By means of their suffering, He rescues those who suffer. For He gets their attention through adversity." (Job 36:15 NLT) God really did get my husband's attention that day. And he has been like a new man ever since. His new, healthier lifestyle has already dramatically improved both his health and mine, and he's become an inspiration to others. I never would have prayed for my husband to have a heart attack, but I thank God that He answered my desperate pleas in ways I never expected.
Scripture says, "You did awesome things that we did not expect." (Isaiah 64:3 NIV) God delights in doing the unexpected and unusual, when we seek His involvement through fervent prayer. Many times, our prayers are too narrow-minded and short-sighted. The Lord doesn't only want to change us and our circumstances, but He wants to provide answers to our prayers that will impact others for good, too. When I prayed for a job, God put me in a position where I could touch and change lives for His glory. And when I asked Him to intervene in my husband's life, the Lord transformed Joe so completely, that he has inspired and challenged me and others to make similar lifestyle changes. What could God do in your life, and in the lives of your loved ones, if you sought His intervention in earnest prayer today? Pour your heart out to Him right now, and prepare yourself for the unexpected!
Prayer: Lord, I ask that You expand my vision, and teach me how to pray the prayers of Your own heart. Show me how to grow closer to You each day, and to invite You into every aspect of my life. Thank You that as I pursue You with passion, You will do awesome things beyond my highest expectations!
- J. M. Farro