The lectionary readings over the last few days have been from 1 Samuel, the story about the birth of Samuel and his dedication to the Lord. Hannah and Elkanah had no children (although Elkanah's other wives had children), so Hannah would pray for a child every year at the temple and told God that she would dedicate a son to the Lord. And, when Samuel was born, she did send him to the temple to be dedicated to a life of service to God. I Samuel 2:21 says, "21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord."
When I was growing up, I heard the story of Samuel as an example of staying faithful to God so that then God would be gracious to us. If I did my part, prayed, and stayed faithful to God, then, eventually, God would come through on whatever it was I was waiting for.
After all, that's how it happened for Hannah, not to mention Abraham and Sarah (and they didn't even wait all that patiently - remember Hagar and Ishmael) and Elizabeth and Zechariah. They were great examples of waiting on God. Even when it seemed like there was no way it could happen, God would come through.
But, for the rest of us, it doesn't seem to work out that way, does it? I've had chronic migraine for 13 years and haven't worked in 12 years. I've done all the things that Christianity told me to do: prayed, waited, been prayed over, memorized Bible verses. You name it, I probably did it. But, here I am.
I'm not the only one. The Apostle Paul also waited. He had a "thorn in his flesh", some kind of physical problem, we assume. He asked God to take it away, but God chose to leave Paul with this limitation, saying “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Sometimes our waiting is rewarded with answered prayer; other times, God chooses a different path for us. What do we do? We get up every morning and thank God that his mercies are new. We may feel like we want to "curse God and die" like Job's wife recommended. But, let's take all of that pain and hurt to the feet of Jesus. He'll walk with us through this, because his power is made perfect in weakness.