Waiting is hard
Are you waiting for something?
Are waiting for God to act, lead, respond, direct, or provide?
Are you in a place where you feel pressed up against the unknown and you have no idea what will happen next?
Perhaps you find yourself praying to God for wisdom, knowledge, direction…?
Been there, I feel you.
Waiting is hard. Especially when it’s obvious that we lack the ability to control the results. If you are heading on a mission trip this summer, you’re probably in the midst of raising all the funds you need to go and waiting for God to provide. Or like many of my friends preparing to graduate university you are waiting for God to reveal that perfect job or graduate program. Perhaps you didn’t get accepted to medical school and in the pain and disappointment you are waiting for another direction, another path to pursue.
Waiting is worth it
I’m learning that waiting on God is actually very important in our relationship with him – and it plays a key role in our spiritual development. Waiting does not have to create bitterness, anger or loss of hope: it can establish a deeper trust and knowledge of who God is and his love for you. I pray that you would experience him intimately as you wait on him.
Here are five things that waiting on God has taught me:
1. I need to cling to the promises found in God’s Word (Psalm 130:5)
When I joined staff with Power to Change I entered into a season of trusting and waiting for God to provide financially so that I could work on campus. It wasn’t easy and at times I felt frustrated that reaching my goal was outside of my control. I searched the Bible for guidance and stumbled upon Psalm 130:5 which is now the framework for how I view my life, and specifically, waiting on God.
It says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope” (ESV).
As you wait on God, your hope needs to be in God’s promises and not in circumstances, people, or ourselves. Not even in what you hope will happen. The reality is, God’s Word will never change nor fade away. Whatever the Bible says (hopes and promises) will happen because God cannot be unfaithful to himself (Isaiah 55:11, ESV). The Bible is true, trustworthy, and dependable for all of life and it will not be altered.
Waiting on God feels scary because we lack knowledge about our future, but with the Bible as our foundation, we can be more certain of who God is in a very uncertain world. That always helps me feel more grounded.
2. God is with me in my waiting (Exodus 33:14)
Moses faced much discouragement in ministry. You can read about it in Exodus 32 and 33. He tried to lead the people through the desert, praying and talking to God on their behalf and saving them multiple times from destruction. He was confused as to who would be with him in the journey of being a leader; in the waiting, Moses felt incredibly alone. Moses needed to wait for the Lord to lead and direct him so that he could lead and direct those wayward people to the promise land.
God responds to Moses: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14, ESV). God reassures Moses that he is not alone in his leadership: God tells Moses that he will go with Moses. Moreover, God’s presence will bring deep rest to Moses who desperately needs it.
In the midst of waiting on God, we too can experience that same rest and peace that comes from God’s presence. We are never alone in the waiting, no matter how scary or isolating the unknown future feels.
If you have placed your faith in Jesus as Lord, you have been promised the Holy Spirit who dwells in you at all times. He gives you access to God the Father, refreshment, joy, and peace.
In times of waiting, God is always with you; he promises to never leave you, nor turn his back on you (Hebrews 13:5, ESV). As God is faithful and cannot deny himself, he can never withdraw his presence from you. That’s a promise to take to the bank!
3. I will look more like Jesus after this waiting (Philippians 1:6)
The moment you place your faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, you enter God’s family whereby he has predestined you for development and growth (Ephesians 2:10, ESV). God begins working in our lives to mature and grow us to become more like Jesus. This development begins when we receive the Holy Spirit at conversion, and Jesus promises that he will complete it (Philippians 1:6, ESV). Another word for the work that he promises to complete is sanctification (spiritual and character development). It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to make us more like Jesus, stripping away the old, sinful nature, and purifying us. God longs for us to grow to become more like Christ—wouldn’t it be awful if we never changed but stayed in the same broken and sinful place as when we first realized our need for the gospel?
I’m realizing that it’s the periods of waiting on God that my dependence and trust in God deepens. It’s in waiting on God where I experience him in fresh and intimate ways. When I turn to him and seek his guidance, I hear his voice more clearly.
It’s in the periods of waiting that my tangible sanctification takes place! Therefore I’m learning to be grateful and accept these seasons of waiting, because they are a spiritual investment in my future holiness, a future me that’s more like Christ.
4. God’s plans for my life are better than mine (Romans 8:28)
When I experience a period of waiting I am tempted to feel as if God has forgotten about my happiness. Doesn’t God want me to be happy? Shouldn’t he just give me what I want?
I need to remember the truth of who God is. In his wisdom and compassion he is dedicated to our sanctification. For God, the highest good and ultimate happiness is for us to become more like him. I am grateful for this! The truth is: God is a good father who longs to give us good gifts (Matthew 7:11, ESV). Often those good gifts come in a package different than what we may expect. The training program that God designs for each of us to become more like Jesus isn’t easy or carefree. Like anything of true value it comes with bumps, challenges, and unfulfilled desires. Just because you may feel disappointed or discouraged with the path God is leading you on, doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV) All things (even painful waiting) can work together for God’s good in us. God does not call us to brush off the painful, raw, and emotional aspects of waiting, pretending that to have faith in God we must ignore our heart. No, we are to choose to believe that even in the hardest moments of waiting on God, he can transform it into his good, for his purposes—which is always a blessing.
5. I can trust God to provide for me each day: Daily bread NOT life loaf (Matthew 6:11)
In Matthew 6:5-13 Jesus instructs his followers how to pray to God and there is one line in verse 11 that always stood out to me: “Give us this day our daily bread” (ESV). Essentially it means that we need to take life day by day, praying for God to provide just enough for what we need that day. This also reflects God’s daily provision to the Israelites when God would provide for them everyday in the wilderness by sending bread from the sky (Exodus 16, ESV). God doesn’t send us bread from the sky these days, but through the presence of his Holy Spirit he sustains us each moment, as we walk with him in total surrender.
Naturally I hate this. I want God to give me my “life loaf” of bread, the whole thing, not one tiny slice at a time. I want to know each detail of my life story so that I can know what’s coming. In a period of waiting on God, it feels painful to not know how things will turn out.
I think though, if God were to tell me my whole life plan, I would most likely run the other direction out of fear. Instead Scripture teaches us that we are to ask for and receive just enough for one day at a time. Having to wait and depend on God for an unknown future, in God’s grace, is the best thing for me to do.
Friend, You Can Wait Well
Waiting on God to provide, act, lead, and direct is normal and part of the Christian life. You have all the resources you need to wait on God well, through his Holy Spirit inside of you. Praise God! Waiting can bring pain and frustration, but waiting well and trusting God each moment of each day will birth new spiritual fruit and blessing in your life.
Identify: What are you waiting on God for? Write it out.
Pray: Ask God to provide all your needs and entrust your circumstances to him.
Trust: God is good, loves you, and will complete his work in your life.
Wait: Surrender each moment and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit’s power and ability. He will empower you to wait well for God’s glory.
Celebrate: When God answers prayer or leads you in your waiting, grab a friend and praise him together! God is worthy of all praises. If he answers your prayer in a way you didn’t expect, surrender your expectations and choose to trust God fresh again.