New Hope Notes

When God Puts You On Hold

Pastor Elwin Ahu
June 24, 2007 - W0725

Sometimes life can seem so unfair. It is so frustrating to be put on hold by God when you have a burning question or desperately want to move on with your life. It is almost like calling a business but constantly getting a recording that says, “All lines are busy, please hold.”


My assistant was calling to order fans for the Children’s Ark but she was put on hold and transferred to another department over and over again for about an hour! It is so frustrating when you want move on in your life or have God answer an important question but He puts you on hold. When we pray to God for guidance, sometimes a simple yes or a no answer would be great but to be put on hold by God seems bad. We should remember though, even Biblical hero Joseph was “put on hold” in a prison cell. So everyone is put on hold at some time.


Back in Jesus’ day there was a Canaanite woman that He put on hold for a while.  Canaanites were pagans or considered Gentile by the Jews. The Jews of that time divided the world into the chosen ones, which were themselves and then everyone else. Canaanites were pagan and worshipped many gods. As the Bible says, “And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.’ But He answered her not a word.” (Matt. 15:22-23 MLKV)


Canaanites were considered outside the good grace of God. So what do you do if God puts you on hold? This is what the Canaanite woman did: “But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me … even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ tables.’” (Matt. 15:25,27)


So when God puts you on hold …





She used the Jewish term “ Son of David” perhaps because she wanted to posture herself as a Jew to gain Jesus’ favor. Don’t we posture ourselves before God in order to get His blessings? We do good deeds just to impress God and others around us rather than from our hearts. What is your motivation behind your posturing?


The disciples said to get her away from them because Jesus was thought to be only for the Jews. But the Canaanite woman changed when she bowed down before Christ. She changed the posture of her heart into humility before God. She was telling Jesus that even if she were treated like a dog she would still accept Him as her master.


As the Canaanites, we too have other gods.  Our gods are things like money, fear of failure, insecurity and so on. God will test our motivations and us by putting us on hold. Hopefully, while we are waiting we will cleanse ourselves of the wrong motivations for our prayers.


When I was a judge, there were three types of defendants that came before me.  First, there were the “whatevers”. They were the ones that did not care what they were sentenced because they knew they were going to jail for a long time already. Then there were the “mercy me’s”. They were the ones that claimed to be born again Christians because they had heard that I was a Christian judge. Finally there were the “totally submissives”. They were the ones that admitted guilt and were willing to accept judgment for what they had done. New Hope prison chaplain Roy Yamamoto was a total submissive. He was willing to accept whatever judgment God had for him.


God tested the Canaanite woman’s posture and humility by making her wait because “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble … Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:6,10)


Also, while waiting for God, you still must …





 It can be discouraging to be put on hold by God and some of us give up on our other duties because of that. But we have to keep the faith and continue doing our duty to God and those around us.  Despite God putting her on hold, the Canaanite woman still tried to live up to her parental responsibilities by trying to save her daughter.


Husbands, I know that you keep praying that your wife will change.  But while you are on hold waiting for that, you must still live up to all your responsibilities.  You still have to love her, raise the children and lead the family.


Wives, I know that you keep praying that your husband will change. But while you wait for that, you must still live up to all your responsibilities. You still have to continue doing God’s work.


Even Jesus was put on hold as it is written, “He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will done.’ And again He came and found them sleeping … And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.” (Matt. 26:42-44) Jesus still faced His responsibility to walk to the cross and be crucified.


And while waiting and continuing to live up to your responsibilities …




He wants your persistence. According to the Bible, a judge ruled in a widow’s favor because of her persistence:”’ … yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.’ And the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily.’” (Luke 18:5-8)


The Canaanite woman won because of her persistence. God wants our persistence. Being persistent will not change God’s mind but it will filter and cleanse our motivations so that they will be the right ones when we pray.


I had the opportunity to play with that new Wii game which is a combination video and live action game simulation. With the attachments and TV you can play tennis, bowl and even box with almost the real body motion of actually doing those things. It was fun but frustrating because I lost at everything!  Even my son Jared was beating me! I constantly prayed to God to let me win just one game but I kept losing. Finally, while boxing, I happened to knock Jared out! I was so happy that at last my prayers had been answered. But when I looked at Jared, he was crying! I was devastated. That was not my prayer’s intention.


We do not realize that our prayers affect others. But God does. He sometimes will not answer them immediately because of how it will affect someone else at that time. God wants us to keep praying and asking Him though so that our motivation becomes clear and right.


And then …





“Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once.” (Matt. 15:28) Jesus was impressed with the Canaanite woman’s faith and persistence. She was a Canaanite, which meant she was an outsider and she was a lowly woman (by ancient standards) so the odds were against her. But she was still willing to wait for her chance with Jesus. Sometimes the odds seem so much against us and so we quit but not this Canaanite woman because she had faith.


So what is faith?




Sometimes God’s answers take time.


When we began the process to adopt Jared from China it took so long and we prayed and prayed over that time but still the process dragged on with God apparently putting us on hold. We wondered what was wrong? We both were somewhat old to adopt a young child already and Joy had never been a mom. But during that long wait God was preparing us for being parents to Jared. When we finally brought Jared into our family it was not like we imagined.  It was hard and the adjustment almost broke us because Jared would not accept us as his parents to the point of screaming, kicking and rejecting us violently. But we kept the faith and persistently prayed. So this past Mother’s Day was such a joy for us because Jared woke Joy up and wished her a very heartfelt happy Mother’s Day!

God knew of the adjustments we had to make in our hearts to prepare us for the initial difficult bonding with Jared.  That is why he put us on hold all that time.


How many of you believe God knows your future? Because He does, He will sometimes put you and your prayers on hold as a test to prepare you for it. As the Bible says, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Is. 55:8-9) So we may not always understand why God does what he does but that is because our minds are limited.


We have a good God. Even faced with the toughest challenges, He will be there for us.  We just need to trust in Him.


When God seems to put you and your prayers on hold, you have to check your posture to make sure you are humble before God, continue to live up to your responsibilities while you wait and trust in Him. Sometimes the discouragement of God putting us on hold can lead us to giving up on our responsibilities but we must keep the faith and continue doing our duties before God and we must keep talking to Him. He wants our persistence and our faith. Sometimes the waiting is God’s test of our faith and humility. Sometimes the waiting allows us time to prepare our hearts for the future. Sometimes the waiting helps us cleanse our motivations for our prayers.





1.      Why did Jesus put the Canaanite woman on hold?

2.      What happened when you failed to live up to your responsibilities, while on hold?

3.      In what areas of your life do you think you need to change your posture?

4.      In what part of your life have you not been persistent with God? Why?

5.      What is a good example from your life where your waiting and trusting bore fruit?

6.      Why did God put you on hold?

7.       What would have been the unintended consequences if God had answered your prayer immediately?

8.      What do you understand now that you did not before God made you wait?