Last November, my sister and I distracted ourselves while waiting for good news on our mom’s hip replacement surgery. Her surgery went so well that we did not get as far down our scavenger photo list as we did when similar shenanigans entertained us years ago. We did it just so we would not go crazy with all the waiting. (You can see some of our “waiting game” pics below and at the gallery sidebar titled “While We Were Waiting”)
Confession: I don’t wait well. But I should, because according to scripture, as a follower of Jesus, I believed Him and received Him, so now I have the fruit of the Spirit which means I have patience. Supernatural patience. But I don’t always “walk by the Spirit” so I don’t always experience the patience available to me 24/7. I often run ahead of God, or try and figure out a workaround from any obstacle in my path just to get what I want as quickly as possible.
The hardest waiting is the kind that puts you on your knees, tissue box nearby. Waiting for God to do something truly important—and not seeing it happen. Week after week, month after month until years have passed and the answer to your prayer is still not realized. Soul crushing, faith-challenging waiting.
Think of Hannah or Sarah or Elizabeth, all women of faith waiting and wondering if they would ever become mothers.
Think of Abraham being promised he would become the father of many nations. PROMISED. He believed the promise but grew impatient and tried to help God out with that one, resulting in a whole lot of hurt.
There’s a lot in scripture about waiting—waiting FOR God and waiting ON God.
Perhaps the best strategy to not lose our minds or our faith while we wait FOR God is to wait ON God—to SERVE God while we wait FOR God. But we cannot possibly sustain a servant’s posture, especially when it is weakened by disappointment, without feeding our faith.
The enemy of our souls wants to keep us far away from everything that will help us in the waiting: worship, the word of God, the fellowship of other believers, prayer. These are weapons at our disposal against every enemy attack.
Yes, God is able, but He is not always willing to change our circumstances. His plan is often so very different than we ever expected.
Listen to this favorite song by Greg Long, In The Waiting.
Do we trust He is good? Do we believe He can redeem anything? Are we willing to serve Him even if He never answers our prayers and our entire life is spent in His waiting room?
Think of the hall of faith heroes who never realized the promises of God—in this life—but are noted for all of us as examples so that we will not be surprised or throw in the towel when bad things happen and do not change.
Think of modern day heroes of the faith, regular men and women who inspire us because they have overcome the temptation to “curse God and die.” (reading Job was instrumental for me when in a long season of disappointment with God; I realized that I was selectively remembering scripture—all the good parts and none of the difficult parts) In this world you WILL have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.
Do we forget what Jesus went through for us and that it was our good, good Father who sent His only son so that love and truth could be satisfied all in one fell swoop? If He willingly suffered for us, so that He could be in relationship with us, shouldn’t we be willing to continue walking with Him, “for better or worse?”
I have several friends who are in deep waters right now. A few have been there for a very long time. And yet they are choosing, day by day, to believe that God is good, “even if.” They ask for prayer, they are transparent in their pain, they inspire me.
I know that God will use their present circumstances, keeping their heads above water to bring hope to others behind them. One day they will be told, “well done, good and faithful servant!”
He doesn’t often write our story like a Hallmark movie—sometimes it’s more like Nightmare on Elm Street—but for those who have placed their TRUST in Jesus, there is comfort in knowing that heaven is real and that He will finally and forever make all things right.
Not all stories of waiting for God to answer a heartfelt prayer have a happy ending. This one does.
Rooted In Truth Scripture: Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord (wait for the Lord) will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:25-31 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth…These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:13, 39-40 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:11-13
Growing In Love Practical Application: Determine not to pitch your tent in Enemy camp but fight the good fight of faith. Whether it’s creating a new powerful, positive, and pointedly worshipful playlist or lining up faith-filled podcasts—feed your faith—starve your cynicism. Realize who your true enemy is and resist him with worship: I agree with John Piper and have long counted 2 Chronicles 20:1-25 as a favorite passage to confirm the value of worship-filled singing in winning a spiritual battle:
spiritual worship and spiritual warfare should be carried out with singing. In (2 Chronicles 20) verse 19 when all the people fell down to worship, the choir stood up to sing. And in verse 21 when the people went out to meet the enemy, the choir went before them with songs of victory. And even more than that, I think that the writer wants us to learn from verse 22 that the enemies of God are thrown into confusion by the songs of God’s people. Or to put it another way, God has appointed the use of spiritual songs as an effective weapon against his archenemy Satan.
Ask God to show you some things you can do to “wait well.” The pain and frustration you are experiencing is your guide. You can now empathize with someone else. Reach out to them, serve them and bless them with the compassion you gained when you walked a mile in their shoes. And if you’re not currently in God’s “waiting room,” go sit with someone who is. Just showing up is really valuable. Sometimes words are best left unsaid; offer a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a warm hug or any practical resources to show your support.
Preach the truth of God’s word to yourself. Dig into scripture and the fellowship of the faithful by joining a good Bible Study small group. The discipline of a weekly study with others will help you to stay in God’s word.
When you don’t feel like talking to God, tell others that they need to pray for your heart. God may NOT change your circumstances, but He CAN change your perspective and attitudes—if you let Him. Sometimes we just can’t do it without the earnest prayers of others.
Ask God to give you a sanctified imagination. How can this bad thing be transformed to bring honor and glory to Him even if the situation is not resolved?
Read the Book of Job.
Remember God can use anything for your good and His glory. He will never abandon you. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...Isaiah 43:1a-3a