'This is the waiting. I anxiously wait. As I hold onto love that will never let go.
And in these times when my patience is tested, won't you remind me that I'm not alone here in the waiting.' Jamie Grace, 2014
In the middle it's painful, chaotic and emotional... very emotional. Well meaning and thoughtful friends and loved ones send you verses. And even though you know the Word of God is useful and God-breathed, it doesn't always speak to you the way it's designed to, or maybe it's not what you're ready to hear. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take a look. Because it's how God most frequently speaks to us and that seems like a pretty smart thing to do if you're waiting on Him. Let's take this one in Romans...
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Rom 5, NIV).
The thing is, if your experience is anything like mine, we've had enough suffering! We've had enough heartache, sickness, grief, injustice, unfulfilled desire... waiting. Perseverance isn't fun - no matter what the outcome! I believe the key is to turn our eyes upon Jesus. He loves us. He brings hope. As the GNB puts it, '... endurance produces God's approval and his approval brings hope. And hope [or dare I say, God] does not disappoint us'. I don't know about you, but I've learned some valuable things during this season. I think I'm learning, no matter how much I fight it, the first step is always surrender. God knows me and loves me. He knows my deepest desires better than I do. I need to let it go. Sometimes daily. Sometimes it's even moment by moment surrender.
At times, I struggled with believing that even though God has answered so many of my prayers, maybe he wouldn't answer this one. And I asked so many times to just hear a 'no' if that's what he was saying. Any answer seemed better than none. This kind of waiting caused me to trust in a God who has proven throughout history that He is good. That he has a plan, plans to bring about the future I hope for (Jer 29:11 MSG). It was not easy. Those who journeyed with me can testify. And to be honest, even though I was surrounded by amazing people, they didn't always get it right. Sometimes they added to my pain. Yet another reason to surrender again and trust in Him alone.
During these times, it seemed God was far away. I sang these lyrics by Brooke Fraser (2006) many times, through many tears:
'When I can't feel you, I have learned to reach out just the same.
When I can't hear you, I know you still hear every word I pray.
And I want you, more than I want to live another day.
And as I wait for you, maybe I'm made more faithful.'
I was so busy focusing on God not being faithful to me [...yet - and I wasn't even sure I thought he would be], that I missed out on what he had for me, in the waiting. Or as Pastor Lee Burns challenged me to think recently, what if when Jesus asked Peter to walk on water, Peter had thought, 'Maybe the presence and power of the storm is greater than the presence and power of God?' (Mt 14). Friend, I wish you could skip the pain and go straight to the wisdom that comes from hindsight, for this is where you see what God was doing. Sometimes, you just need to get out of the boat. If not, how much will you miss out on?
This part of my story has shaped who I am, or as Romans says, developed my character. It
causes surrender and increases trust. It has encouraged in me, genuine gratitude for God's faithfulness; His faithfulness to others, but also to me. I am His. The more grace God gives me on my journey, the more grace I have available for others. And that's how it should be. For it is grace and hope that set us apart... hope in Jesus.
Image credit Craig Mooney :: Girl Waiting Light Room