Trusting God in the longing and the waiting
Life is full of different seasons. Seasons of certainty and seasons of uncertainty. Seasons of joy and seasons of sorrow. Seasons of things falling into place and seasons of waiting and longing.
This year I have been living in the longing and the waiting as I developed a significant generalised anxiety disorder. Much to my surprise the anxiety didn’t resolve quickly, actually it kept getting worse. Days turned into weeks which turned to months of me being almost constantly anxious. Anxiety impacts me from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I go to sleep at night and frequently disturbs my sleep. As I am writing this I would love, and long, to say that this is all in the past, that the longing and waiting is over. For now that’s not my story, not yet. I know it will be, but at the moment I continue to wait.
It is through this that I have been thinking about how do we keep trusting God through seasons of longing and waiting? What do we do when the longing and waiting lasts weeks, months or even years? Do we continue to cling to God when he doesn’t seem to answer our prayers of the deepest longings of our hearts?
As I sit in this tension and with these questions I wait and long for a day without anxiety. A day where my chest doesn’t ache, where my heart doesn’t pound, where my hands and legs don’t tremble and my fingers don’t tingle. There is adrenaline coursing through my body day and night, all in an attempt to keep me safe from perceived danger. I wait for medication to work and for medical professionals to help ground me again. I wait to believe the things that I logically know to be true and not believe the lies in my mind. I long for a day where I feel completely myself again and I can do the things I love. I long for a day where I am not exhausted from just trying to do everyday life. As I sit in this season of waiting, I have times where every fibre of my being just desperately wants to be well. And I have other times where I am more ok that it will take time and I can accept the season of waiting.
Even though the waiting is incredibly hard and I am doing all I can with the help of friends, family and professionals, I continue to have hope. Hope that I will get better. It may not be as quickly as I would like, but I have confidence (mostly) that it will come. I also have the eternal hope that through Christ I will receive complete healing on that day when Christ returns and all things are restored and made new. On that day there will be freedom from sickness and pain and death and even my mind will be renewed. So in this season maybe more acutely than others, I deeply long for that day.
It is because of this hope that I can keep clinging to God each day, trusting in his everlasting love, faithfulness and goodness. I turn to God in prayer, through reading his word and asking others to intercede in prayer for me. I wish sometimes that there was a simple solution, that just thinking positively or praying enough or just having enough faith would fix my anxiety in an instant. If that was the case then I would already be well. I would choose wellness over anxiety every time if I could. But I sit in the longing and the waiting and continue to trust God no matter what, for he has not forsaken me.
In this time the book of Psalms has become my lifeline and my comfort. It enables me to cry out to God when I feel forgotten with words like: Psalm 13 “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Or Psalm 88 “Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.” Or Psalm 130 “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy”.
It reminds me to keep lifting my eyes to God and look beyond myself. Psalm 121 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
The Psalms enable me to see that I am not alone in my waiting and that others have desperately waited for the Lord to act. Psalm 130 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
Lastly it shows me that no matter what season and even when I cannot see it or feel it, God is always with me. Psalm 23 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 46 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
So if you are also going through a season of longing and waiting just remember that you are not alone. Know that as I go through this season I lift up to God others who are in the same season. So I am praying for you. And remember that God is ever present even if you can’t always sense it. You are deeply loved more than you know. As we wait, we do not wait without hope, our hope is sure for Christ has overcome all things!
Louisa lives in Carlingford, Sydney with her husband Simon. Louisa is currently studying a Masters of Divinity at SMBC. She has a heart to see women and men being faithful to God and pursue lives of service wherever he calls them.