I’m taking a chance today that as I sit and wait for the promises God has given me, some of you are waiting, too.
Waiting is hard.
There are a few stages we go through when God doesn’t immediately do what He says, or when we pray for something for a long time:
God gives a promise ————-> Time passes without fulfillment ————-> Disappointment ————-> Doubt (Maybe I heard it wrong. Maybe I am foolish for believing. Maybe that promise wasn’t really for me. Maybe that verse in the Bible can’t really be counted on, which now means I can’t really count on any of them…) ————-> Offended with God (You are mean. You are not really good. You aren’t upholding your end of the deal. You can’t be trusted.) OR ————->Decision to go it alone (Since You are not doing what you said, I will just figure this out and depend on myself.)
There are many examples in the Bible where we see these reactions:
- John the Baptist – “Why would I be in prison if Jesus is the Savior? Did we get it wrong? Should we be looking for someone else?” (Paraphrase, Matt. 11:2,3)
- Gideon – “If God is really with us, then why has all this bad stuff happened? Where are the miracles that our relatives told us about? He abandoned us!” (Paraphrase, Judges 6:13)
- Sarai – “God hasn’t kept His promise that I would have a child, so either we heard Him wrong or this is supposed to happen another way.” (Genesis 16: her thought process is not recorded, this is my imagined version) Her decision to take matters into her own hands has had earth-shattering implications even to this day in the nations of the world.
I could go on. I don’t think the issue of our human tendency to doubt surprises God. The issue is what we choose to do with doubt in the waiting.
In my last article, Truth > Experience, we discussed making sure that our circumstances don’t dictate what we believe. Here are four other suggestions to help us make it through:
- Refuse to become offended with God. It is a choice that goes against our natural inclination and the run-away nature of our emotions. But being offended with God will result in nothing good. Trust me on this one.
- Refuse to come up with another plan that isn’t His. This also can be tough. We are a Fix-It-Now society. There must be an answer, there must be something we can do. Trust me on this one as well. Nothing good comes of this choice either.
- Do focus on what God IS doing in your life. In my personal experience, the thing that keeps me going is that I can see God working in other areas of my life, even if it is not in the ONE area that I desperately want Him to.
- Do value the power of testimony. Maybe if you can’t see Him bringing your personal promises to fruition, you can ride for a while on the testimonies of others. For me this looked like making a deliberate, verifiable list of people who had been radically healed from severe digestive illness. Over a couple of years I accrued at least fifteen of them. Nothing “sketchy” made it on the list… I needed the truth. (If someone told me they had a friend whose brother-in-law’s father’s cousin was healed after someone prayed, that didn’t make in on my list.) This meant for a time I was a bit of a stealthy private investigator, sometimes stalking total strangers. I shamelessly sent Facebook messages to people to introduce myself and ask about their experience. Overwhelmingly, when I found these precious people with amazing testimonies, they were more than happy to encourage and tell me anything I wanted to know.
Why is this important? By remembering what He has done for others, our hope and faith is built for our personal situations. If you have a powerful testimony, then you might be the one who can keep someone else from losing hope. Please share it!
Let me be clear, none of this is easy. I had at least four crying, heartbreaking discussions with God just yesterday. Sometimes it’s an hourly decision. Yesterday He said lovingly: I know this is so hard. I need you to hold on a little bit longer. I promise it will be worth it.
Sometimes my weakened son will sing worship songs quietly with his ear buds in as he lays in his hospital bed, not realizing I am listening. (If you are unfamiliar with our son’s health battle, you can read more here.) He is taking in the maximum allowable amount of narcotics that are not enough to cover the pain… we’ve been in the hospital for six weeks, with no end in sight. Even still, he is demonstrating to me in the darkest of situations that he is making the choice to keep running to Jesus, the only One who can change this for him. Watching this takes my breath away.
If he can make these hard but powerful choices while he waits, then I can, and you can too.
God is working, even as you wait.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. (Psalms 62:5)