When my grandchildren were young, they would love to watch the automatic pool sweep move around the bottom of our swimming pool to clean it. If they looked and it was still, they would say, “He’s not moving!” or “He’s not working!” They were disappointed because they thought he should be visibly moving all the time.
All of us have times when we are looking for proof God is working and we think, “He’s not moving!” Or we think we have done all the right things without seeing the results we expected. We may have prayed, fasted, kept our integrity, taken the high road in situations, raised our children in church, tithed, faithfully served in the church, and have been obedient to what God has said, but we are not seeing the fruit we were promised. We are tempted to think and speak out these words, “It’s not working! I have done the right things but God is not moving.”
Many in the Bible had situations where it did not seem to be working. Here are three:
Abraham and Sarah’s promised child had not come despite years of waiting
Joseph’s purity seemed only to make things worse as he ended up in jail
Elijah’s radical obedience in defeating the prophets of Baal led into a season where he became suicidal because of the opposition he faced
When it does not seem to be working, it is wise to ask God what he is really doing in us. Delays deepen our character, which ultimately causes us to be able to keep the increased blessing He is bringing. Here are eight things God might be doing in us when it seems like it is not working:
You are learning to love the promise giver more than the promise – “(God) is a rewarder of those diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). When we are more interested in seeking His face than His hand, we are then positioned for the increase.
You are being called to think bigger – Many times we are thinking too small. We can be so frustrated with a door that is not opening that we cannot see the bigger doors that will open.
You are embracing a season of living by faith, not sight – “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). All of us need to be weaned from getting our beliefs from what we see instead of what we know.
You are seeing God’s need and committing to it – It wasn’t working for a frustrated Hannah in I Samuel 1 until she connected her need with God’s need. When she understood God’s need of a prophet and gave herself to that, the breakthrough happened.
You are overcoming the victim mindset – “Tell my people to move forward” (Exodus 14:15). The children of Israel felt helpless at the edge of the Red Sea. As they overcame the victim mindset and moved forward, the sea parted. Overcomers find ways to keep moving forward in life even when there seems to be major unfulfilled promises in their lives.
Your eyes are being opened to what you already have – The widow in 2 Kings 4 realized her solution was something she already had (the oil). There is something we currently have that God will use supernaturally.
You are learning not to quit – “We will reap if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
You are in a season of embracing your worth in Christ – We are only able to receive what we think we are worth in areas like favor, finances, and authority. If we are blessed beyond what they think they are worth, we will often self-sabotage our lives back to the level we believe we are worth. As we accept our worth in Christ, it will promote more breakthrough than all the Christian formulas we have.
When we think it is not working, God invites us to ask for wisdom (James 1:5). He will answer us with one of the above perspectives or something else. Once we believe we have heard from Him, we can confidently proclaim, “He is working! He is moving!” And, you know what? He really is.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.