“Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.”
“The waiting is the hardest.” I have heard that phrase so many times over the last few weeks. People in all sorts of circumstances: waiting to hear test results, waiting to find out about a job, waiting to see if they still have a job, waiting for a relationship to get better…
Why is it that the waiting, either in anticipation or in dread, creates within us such a tension? I have observed, especially in the anxiety-ridden situations, that it is not the fear of the outcome that causes us such stress; but rather, the lack of control over the situation.
We deal with our fears, as long as we can have some control over the process. For example, one friend shared with me that they could handle the bad diagnosis, “I just want to know what it is so we can get on with my treatment.”
Another, just a couple of weeks ago, “I can handle not getting the job, I just need to know so I can start working on another plan.”
Maybe you are like me, and many others, that believe they can deal with anything as long as:
1. We have all the information; and
2. We can create a plan to address the situation
In dealing with my own maddening situation of waiting recently, it occurred to me that the waiting is God’s gift to me. And to wish myself through it speedily, or to let my emotions overtake me in it, is robbing me of that gift.
For me, the period of waiting is all about trying to regain control of whatever situation I have found myself in. That is where my security is, my ability to control the outcome. Or, maybe, if I am having a good “faith day,” it is about waiting on God to intervene on my behalf. You know those prayers, I bet.
“Please Lord, give us good results.” “Please heavenly Father, resolve this situation – QUICKLY.” Or, my most frequent, “Where are You, Lord? I have been praying so long. Don’t You hear me? I need you to fix this – NOW!”
So here I am, anxiety-filled, seeking the Lord, day after day. Praying that He would move on my behalf. Praying that He would take control of this situation and wondering why He hasn’t acted already. Could it be that there is more to this than simply getting my wishes granted?
How often do I earnestly seek Him? How often do I make a point of spending quality time in prayer, especially when things are going well for me?
I am beginning to think that the waiting is God’s gift to me. It is a time in which I am reminded of my dependence on Him, so I chase after Him. I pursue Him, and sometimes, I even listen to Him (a novel thought!) And I do these things because I have no other options.
In the last twenty years, I have had some very long periods of waiting for God. And I reflect on those times as some of the best in our relationship. I can think back on the times in which I could do nothing about my circumstances, and His presence was such a comfort, a blessing, a manifestation of peace. He was there with me, not alleviating my distress, but walking through it with me.
In those times, my faith became real. I wasn’t just singing a nice song on Sunday morning about His love. I was living on His faithfulness and promises on a daily basis, even though I had no evidence of them yet. I was trusting in His Word, and not allowing worry to overtake me. And that is a very hard choice to make each day. So the time I would spend with Him was a priority and rich with interaction. Those are the times I can remember as being the most fruitful in my spiritual growth and my knowledge of Him. They were good times in the midst of bad seasons.
My friends, if you are in a time of waiting, I pray that you would allow Him to come alongside you, to minister to you, and to love you in a way that maybe isn’t possible when all is right with your world. Allow Him to shower you with grace, and manifest His love for you in a way that you may never have experienced. Maybe the miraculous act of God we are waiting for is not the end result, but the work He does with us in the in-between.
Blessings of grace and peace to you on this day.