“You need to wait for Mommy to finish.” “Not right now sweetheart, maybe later.” “Wait for your turn.” I feel like a broken record saying some version of these sentences over and over all day long. Our kids don’t like waiting. And I can’t say I blame them. How many times when calling a doctor have I been asked, “Do you mind if I put you on a short hold?” and think, “Yes. I do mind, I have other things I’d much rather be doing.” Waiting is not something any of us enjoy. But I’m learning it is an unavoidable part of life.
Now I’m not just talking about waiting for your food at a restaurant or in line at the grocery store. I’m specifically talking about the waiting that comes when the One saying “Not right now.” is our Heavenly Father. I have discovered all of life is cycles of waiting. And even though I have been through many such seasons, I still find them to be the hardest times of my life.
Hate to wait
Why do we hate waiting so much? Well for one thing, it’s hard. It’s hard not knowing if the thing you’re waiting for will happen tomorrow, next week, next year, or if it will happen at all. It’s hard because it leaves us (or at least me) feeling I’ve no control over anything. It’s also frustrating because it means we aren’t getting what we want when we want it. And finally, something I’ve recently discovered, waiting tends to make us anxious. It doesn’t matter how many seasons of waiting I go through. I still find myself repeating the same pattern and mindset, and believing the same lies that I’ve subconsciously told myself. Lies like “I need to do something now” or “I need to know so I can plan”. Or “God is going to say no and that’s going to be hard to go through.” All of these lies result in a feeling of anxiousness with no sense of control.
Waiting on God, whatever that means.
I think that, unfortunately, the phrase ‘Wait on the Lord’ has become a Christian cliche. You hear people say it all the time with little understanding of it’s meaning because it sounds like something a good Christian would say. I know I am guilty of doing this.. But in this current season of waiting I’ve found myself coming to a better grip of what it means to wait on God.
- It means letting go. My struggle with waiting on God lies in the fact that I don’t want to relinquish control (which is funny because that implies I had some form of control to begin with). It means I have to accept that my plans were not in line with God’s or that my timing wasn’t His timing.
- It means praying with confidence. I must confess that I often pray with very little faith. I ask for things like patience, wisdom, self-control, and humility without really thinking about what those things are and how they look in my current season. But waiting on God means praying for these virtues and others with confident hope that God will provide them as needed.
While you wait
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation, and my God.
Psalm 42:5 ESV
I came across this verse recently as I entered another waiting season. And it couldn’t have come at better time. I was so anxious and “cast down” that I couldn’t sleep. I seriously felt myself at war with God. But when I read the second half of this verse, my heart began to still. I realized I was like Peter, focusing so much on the waves (all the negative outcomes) that I had forgotten about the One who calms them. But when I took my eyes off my circumstances and stopped questioning God’s plan and just focused on HIM, I was able to surrender to His will so much easier. I still don’t enjoy waiting, but it’s less worrisome.
Overcoming worried waiting
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.
I know I’m not alone in this struggle with waiting. It seems like God has us wait for so many things: a baby, a new job, a new house. But I just recently discovered that I’m much more prone to anxiety and stress when left to my own thoughts. So I’ve come up with a few ways to combat these feelings and truly wait on God.
- Worship God. Just a few weeks ago, I went through all the songs I had on my phone and created an “Anti-anxiety” playlist. I compiled about 20 songs that focus not only on trusting God in seasons of waiting, but that focus on His character. When I’m reminded of how awesome and loving my God is, it’s easier to let go of what I couldn’t control anyway.
- Remember His faithfulness. Right in the midst of this battle with anxiety, one of our pastors taught on Philippians 4:6-7. And he said something that stuck with me. “Remember that God has been faithful in the past. He’s faithful now. And He will be faithful in the future.” I spent the next week just letting that statement sink in. And any time I felt tempted to doubt that His timing was good or I felt myself trying to find a way to seize control, I would stop and remind myself that every circumstance He’s put me in, He not only brought me through but He made me stronger because of it.
- Pray for His will to be done–and mean it. This has always been a hard one. I pray “Your will be done.” But always tag on what I want His will to be. But I will say, it has been much easier to pray for His will when I focus on His goodness, love and faithfulness, because I know He will do only what is good for my growth and sanctification, and ultimately, His glory.
He is God and You are not
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
None of us like to wait or be told no. We don’t like our plans to be derailed. We all like to have some control, and in doing so we pile on more stress and worry. But when we take the time to just be still and praise Him for being a loving Father and faithful God, our focus shifts from the waves of the storm to the guiding hand of the Shepherd. So whatever your storm is, whatever has you worried and stressed, let me encourage you to be still dear soul, and remember that HE is God, and you are not. And thank Him for that!