Slow deliverance, fruitful testimonies
By QuaWanna Bannarbie
Singer Toni Braxton released a song titled “Seven Whole Days” in 1993. The song’s lyrics are about a lover who mistreated her. I am thinking Ms. Braxton’s lyrics would be so fitting to sing about coronavirus.
“I can’t take it, won’t take it,
Can’t take it no more.
I had about enough of you.”
But the song’s title would change daily, as it has been well over 390 days since we first heard of this unrelenting heartbreaker. We wonder when this pandemic will end, if it ever ends. One thing is for sure — we have all had enough of it.
When I begin questioning God, “why so long?” my thoughts turned to several examples of long-awaited deliverances in the Bible. There were 13 years that Joseph was wrongly imprisoned in Egypt before a cupbearer remembered him and he was released (Genesis 39-41). The Israelites were slaves in Egypt for 430 years before Moses became the deliverer and led them through the Red Sea (Exodus 14). The prophet Samuel’s mother Hannah was barren for many years before God granted her and Elkanah a son together (1 Samuel 1:2-22). It was more than 700 years between the prophecy of the birth of Jesus (Isaiah 7:14) and His coming (Matthew 1:18-25). Surely, we know of many other biblical narratives when God has been slow to deliver, but do we understand the purpose of His delay? Did the characters in these stories understand something about slow deliverance that our impatient and ignorant generation does not?
Perhaps Jackie Hill Perry explains it best in one of her YouTube videos. Of God’s delays, she says, “At times we suffer long because God knows that the glory that He will receive and the faith that we are going to have will be significant. There are times when God will leave us in our suffering for an extended amount of time because He cares more about our sanctification than He cares about our comfort. God wants us to look like Him.”
Whenever I hear or see something via the world wide web that speaks to me, I acknowledge God’s creative way of delivering a message by way of my social media scrolling. It just goes to show that He can use anything (Ephesians 3:20). I just happened to open up YouTube and Jackie Perry’s video was there. As soon as I began to listen to it, my memory went back to a note that I wrote during a session of Bible Study Fellowship nearly three years ago. It read, “God’s concern is for our maturation because we are appointed to grow, bear fruit and that our fruit would remain” (John 15:16). I understand these words in John to mean that sanctification is designed for our identity with Christ to bear fruit and that we have a resilient identity for eternity.
Long times of awaiting deliverance were designed and specifically designated for resiliency and growth to be accomplished. God develops us and our faith in hard times. Jackie Perry points out two things that are definite while trials linger: God’s glory remains, and faith produces fruit. Deliverance of any kind is a process of growth. For example, natural fruit does not ripen overnight.
I believe God cares less about getting rid of coronavirus than He does about getting rid of the ungodliness in each of us. Those deliverance stories in the Bible reveal testimonies of fruitfulness. I can examine fruit that was produced in nations, families and leaders. Deliverance is taking a long time because God’s glory is revealing something that will be a sure monument of His work in our faith journey. Examine your own life for its fruit. What will be your COVID-19 testimony of how God revealed His glory in your life before deliverance came?
QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of Nonprofit Leadership and Management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Connect with her via firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.