David is often called "a man after God's own heart," but that doesn't mean he was perfect; we know that, too. One of his greatest sins involves a woman named Bathsheba, the wife of another man. David saw her, desired her, pursued her, and impregnated her, then he had her husband killed in battle so that he could have her. And when his child was born, God spoke and told David in no uncertain terms that he couldn't keep the boy; the child would die.
David tore his clothes and fasted and prayed, hoping to change the mind of the Lord. Repentant of his sin, he didn't want the child to die on account of his sin, so he did all he could to show how contrite his heart was. He paced the floor and threw himself prostrate and cried and prayed and begged. His servants were starting to get worried about him.
And then, the child died. Just as the Lord had said that he would.
The servants didn't know what to do. Here was David, hopelessly forlorn and severely distraught while his son was alive; how could they tell him that his son had died? They start to whisper among themselves, trying to figure out what to say. Trying to figure out who should say it. Remember, this is the same David who has killed men for bringing what they thought was good news; his servants know this is bad news, and he's already in a bad place.
But he's a smart guy and he figures it out when he hears all the whispering. "My child has died, hasn't he?" David asks, and his servants confirm it. Probably standing with one hand on the doorknob in case they need to make a quick exit. Probably standing with one foot already turned toward the door. Probably holding their breath.
Then David does something unexpected. He gets up, cleans himself up, and sits down to eat a meal. Everyone is confused and asks him how he changed his attitude so wholly so quickly, and his answer is quite simple: until it came to pass, there was room to pray. But God had acted according to His promised word on the matter, and now, it was time to move on. Time to live a new reality. Time to get going.
We're faced with these kinds of David moments all the time, even as persons of deep faith. God speaks, and we know what He intends to do. Or we have at least an inkling. But we spend our time in deep mourning, praying for something different. Praying for something else to happen.
When God acts, however, we become less David-like. We often continue our grief. We often intensify our prayers. When our child dies (metaphorically), we fall on our knees and refuse to get up until our child lives. God resurrects the dead, right? Well, let's go, God. Get on that already. We double-down on our sackcloth, double up on our ashes, stomp our feet, and become more insistent, absolutely convinced that if we just throw a big enough tantrum (although we wouldn't call it that), God will listen and do exactly what we wanted him to do in the first place.
But that's not faith. I say that knowing that that's a hard truth for a lot of us, who are taught so strongly to believe in the power of God to do anything. We're taught that if we just keep believing, just keep hoping, just keep praying, then Lazarus walks out of the grave and rainbows and unicorns and all that. We're told that's what faith looks like - it never gives up. And in some sense, that's true.
Faith never gives up, but it does give over. It gives God the authority to act as God has determined to act, and it adjusts itself accordingly. It learns to live in new spaces all the time, based on what God has done and is doing. It accepts that God can change who we are, how we live, what we do, what's going on, anything at any time and it embraces when He has.
Faith is persistent, raw, and real, but it doesn't stomp its feet and raise its voice and throw a tantrum until it gets what it wants. It accepts what it has, knowing that it comes from a good and gracious Father, and it learns to live accordingly. Faith prays and mourns and grieves, but then it gets up, dusts itself off, and sits down for a meal.
Faith holds on, but it doesn't hold out. It moves on. What do you need to move on from?