As a child, I rarely had lofty goals of being a doctor, an astronaut, or a teacher. My dream was to be a mother.
When my husband and I married nearly seven years ago, I assumed that bearing a child would be easy, painless, and quick. But perhaps the most challenging season of waiting has been experiencing years of infertility.
Our expectations and our culture’s pressures quickly changed our perspective on the loneliness, pain, and fear that waiting for a child brings. We watch couples around us become pregnant, raise their children, and continue moving on with life. And though we praise the Lord for keeping us from bitterness, envy, and jealousy, we cannot help but feel the negative impacts that waiting apart from the Lord can have on our impatient hearts.
Have you ever recognized the impatience and thirst for instant satisfaction our culture offers? We live in a want-it-now, buy-it-now, give-it-now world. We pay extra for faster shipping. We receive better deals on products for buying them sooner. Marketing and advertising boldly and loudly bombards us with “Don’t wait!” “Don’t miss out!” “Act now!”
There’s no doubt that waiting has become foreign to our culture. I’d even say waiting seems to have become an unwelcome, unwanted, and undesired part of life.
But waiting is one of the most loving means by which the Lord uses to draw us closer to him – and this is nothing new to his character. Since the beginning of creation, humanity has waited. Yes, Sarah and Abraham waited for a child (Genesis 11-23). Moses waited for deliverance of his people (Exodus-Numbers). Mary and Martha waited for Jesus to come heal their brother (and then accused him of taking too long!) in John 11. But when we study Scripture, the majority of those who waited were waiting for the Lord instead of the tangible.
The Lord designed seasons of waiting to teach us that he is the foundation for our lives.
To make the best out of your season of waiting, ask yourself these five questions:
1. What is the heart issue?
Satan lives to deceive and lure us into believing that we need certain things in order to be happy. If you find yourself thinking, “If only I had ____, then I’d be happy,” you’ll quickly realize where your priories lie. The blank can be filled with endless idols: money, job status, bigger house, nicer car, spouse, children, a more desirable appearance, etc.
It’s important to note, however, that desiring pleasure, comfort, love, and security are legitimate desires given to us by our Father – the one “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). These desires alone are not sinful, but they become sinful when they control our lives and cause us to abandon God’s purposes and timing.
We tend to forget what Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Our hearts deceive us daily, so it’s important to reject the notion of “following your heart.” As our hearts grow deeper into impatience, we lose sight of God’s promises – and more importantly, we forget that what we’re trying to achieve can only be a blessing from the Lord.
2. Are you depending on and seeking the Father?
Waiting reinforces our dependence on God. It causes us to recognize that we have a limited control over our humanity, and dependence ultimately means relinquishing control.
But while you may be depending on him, are you also seeking him? Lamentations 3:25 says: “The LORD is good to those who wait for him, To the person who seeks him.” Isn’t it comforting to know you serve and belong to a God who desires for you to seek him, walk alongside him, and enter into fellowship with him?
We can actively seek him in this season easily and immediately through prayer, and reading and applying his Word. And because of our desire for immediacy, let’s rejoice that the Lord is available to us 24/7!
3. Is he enough?
As you examine your need for him, can you truly declare that the Lord God is your refuge and strength? Do you believe that he is an ever-present help in trouble? (Psalm 46:1)
If you aren’t actively believing these truths of who he is, you’ll end up falling into unbelief, control, complaining, bitterness, and jealousy – to name a few.
Ask yourself this: Are you trying to help God? If I fall into the trap of forgetting the Lord’s sovereignty, I tend to pray in a way that offers suggestions to God. In my pride and impatience, I believe that my suggestions for my life surpass any ideas he has for me. And when I get stuck in a “why aren’t you listening to this awesome idea?!” mentality, the Enemy starts licking his chops, awaiting my fears that he isn’t enough.
In Psalm 39:7, the Psalmist says: “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Where is he placing his hope? In the Lord! Not in his own merits, not in his gifts, not in his money or education – he dependently, confidently, and excitedly proclaims his hope in God. He alone is enough.
4. Do you have confident expectation?
When we wait, we have the option of choosing unbelief or confidence in our Lord. Our decision to wait in confidence shows that we expect good things from God. And expecting versus hoping is a tremendous leap of faith. We can hope, or we can expect. Expectation results in bold confidence.
Be encouraged by what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Are you fleeing from the temporary and the seen? Or are you running towards eternal glory in faith? If you are running instead of fleeing, you are displaying confidence and expectation in a holy, sovereign, all-powerful God.
5. What harvest of righteousness might God yield?
We may not receive what we desire or what we pray for, but we can be sure that we are becoming more like Christ while we lean into him.
Brother and sister in Christ, we may strive to do everything possible to move past this uncomfortable season of waiting, but the Lord’s sovereignty has the final say. And we aren’t left to wander hopelessly without guidance; the Good News encourages us to trust his sovereignty in our impatience and worry.
Take the bold step of going beyond the simple acceptance of what Christ has done for you in his incarnation, sinless life, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension – and live out the gospel. Search your heart, get honest about your sin, and ask yourself how the gospel speaks into this situation:
When you first responded to his Spirit and put your faith in Jesus Christ, his righteousness became yours. And by his Spirit, we have victory over the sin and pain of this season; we also have a future glory of total transformation awaiting us when Christ returns. So as we wait, let’s rejoice that our hearts are continually being transformed into Christ’s likeness and that we can claim his victory as ours.
What are you waiting for? What might God be producing in you as you wait?
PS: DOWNLOAD this free infographic with 9 Bible Verses on Waiting!
I wrote this article for Unlocking the Bible on 2.23.16. ©Unlocking the Bible. Used with permission. www.unlockingthebible.org. Unlocking the Bible is the Gospel-centered teaching of Pastor Colin Smith (Senior Pastor of The Orchard in Chicago, IL). The ministry challenges listeners to believe that their lives can be transformed by ‘The Power of the Open Book’ through consistent study of the Bible and a deepening faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.