Most of us hate the word wait. It’s a four-letter word that stirs up all sorts of negative emotions.
No kid likes to hear, “Wait your turn.” No adult likes to wait in long lines at the DMV. No husband enjoys waiting for his wife to do “just one more thing before we go.” No wife loves waiting for her husband to fix the toilet that’s been running for months. And I’ve never met anyone who appreciates it when they feel God is saying, “Not yet. Wait.”
In our minds, waiting ranks right up there with a root canal. Necessary, perhaps, but not at all fun. And waiting is often a hope-killer.
The most difficult challenge for me, and maybe for you too, is waiting for God. We pray. We fast. We search the Scriptures for a promise. We vow to God to be better and to do better, believing that somehow we can twist His arm into action. We desperately look for something, anything, to hang our hope on. We cry out to Papa God for answers, and we curse the heavens when He seems silent.
A dear friend of mine has suffered from infertility for years. She’s tried everything, read every book she could get her hands on, talked to multiple doctors and attempted several expensive medical procedures. She and her husband have the medical bills to prove it. And yet nothing has changed. No pregnancy. No baby. No answers. And hope is waning.
Waiting is hard. It hurts. We want to believe God has a plan. We pray for patience and perspective. But the passing of time is painful.
At the heart of this issue is more than just a struggle with patience.
We find it hard to wait because sometimes we find it difficult to trust God.
We lie awake in the darkness wondering . . .
- Has God forgotten me?
- Have I brought this pain upon myself because I’m a failure?
- Do I not deserve what I’m longing for, or am I being punished?
- Does God have my best interest in mind?
- Can He be counted on to make good on His promises?
- Is God even listening to me?
Sometimes our confusion, fear, and lack of trust immobilize us. We feel like a confused squirrel on the road, not sure if we should stop, go back or press on, only to find ourselves ending up as road kill.
Sometimes we humans are inclined to take matters into our own hands. “God helps those who help themselves,” we’ve been told, and that leads us to take action. Is it a premature, impatient, and foolish action? Probably. But we are tired of sitting on our duffs waiting for God to act, so we do.
Yes, waiting is tough, there’s no doubt about it, but here are some practical things I learned about waiting.
First, you have to determine now what you will do during a delay.
Don’t wait to the point of frustration to decide how you will handle the slowdown or you’re going to be in trouble. It’s best to understand early in the process that God’s sense of timing is radically different from ours.
Unlike we do, God sees the end from the beginning. Unlike we are, God is just as concerned about what happens along the way as He is the result. In fact, sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.
During the delay, allow your faith and character to be forged. God doesn’t help those who help themselves. God helps those who rest in and rely on Him. You may not always understand, the waiting may still be agonizing at times, and there may be many other moments of struggle. However, it will help if your perspective changes. Try to see waiting in the same way one might see the cooking of stew—the longer the wait, the better the stew.
Second, as you wait for God, try to engage in your present circumstances with joy.
Rather than miss what’s happening right now because you’re so preoccupied with your future, be fully present in the moment. While waiting for God to do the one thing or the big thing you desperately desire, don’t miss the thousand little things that matter too.
Instead of resisting and resenting the process of waiting, choose to find His purpose in the present.
And finally, for you to wait with patience and hope, it’s always best to have someone in your corner encouraging you to hold on.
Connect with a trusted friend who will frequently remind you that God is good, He is faithful, and He always has a plan. You will wait more successfully when you find a partner who will stand with you in the darkness and confusion and whisper into your soul, “It’s okay; we’re not alone…God is here and near.”
I love these simple words of Bob Goff, “It’s easy to trust God when he does what we want; it’s the other times we grow.”
So, don’t let the weight of waiting hinder what God is doing in you while you wait.
3 Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. 4 And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope.