Waiting on the Lord: Persevering to Have Hope
I am in a season of waiting. I won't go into specifics, but I am waiting for answers, direction, and long-awaited dreams to be fulfilled.
Waiting is often fraught with fear, worry, and stress. But what purpose does God have in our waiting?
Waiting is a form of suffering, and suffering produces perseverance, which produces character. And character produces hope. I fully believe that God uses waiting to refine our faith and our Christ-like character. Jesus didn't begin his ministry until he turned 30, although he had been wise beyond his years long before then. As Jesus's life shows, waiting is purposeful, and never wasted.
As an impatient person always looking for the next step to take, I struggle with long waiting periods. It is natural for me to grow anxious in my waiting and to question the goodness of God during this time. So much of our world today is built on instant gratification, which makes waiting an even greater struggle.
In these times of waiting, we are often susceptible to spiritual attack. Our faith, however strong, is always tested by periods of unknown and uncertainty. The Enemy will often challenge God's word and plant lies into our mind in order to stumble us and sin against God in our impatience. In my personal waiting, I often deal with imaginary voices telling me that I am not good enough for or not deserving of what I am waiting for. And even worse, these voices plant doubt into my mind about God's goodness. "Does God really want the best for you?" "What if God is doing this to spite you?" Although it seems so easy to detect these lies, it takes directed effort to identify and refute these lies.
From the very beginning of time, Satan has used lies and deceit to trick us into believing falsehoods about God. The biggest lie that Satan has used against humanity is that we should be our own God. In Genesis, Satan lures Adam and Eve to eat the fruit in order to know good and evil, and thus become all-knowing and God-like. However, this lie led to sin entering our world and destroying God's perfect creation from the onset.
Satan's lies are especially dangerous in times of waiting--when God seems to be far away. These lies tempt us to despair, lose hope, and doubt God's promises. In these times, it is especially important for us to hold onto hope--hope in Jesus, hope in God's faithfulness and goodness.
So what has God been teaching and showing me in this season of waiting?
To TRUST him. He alone is God, and I must release my desire for control into His sovereign hands.
Waiting has uncovered my deeply rooted idol of control and distrust in God. I have realized in my waiting that God is quietly waiting for me to give up control over my life and the external circumstances of the world to Him. As a natural control-freak, this is so incredibly difficult for me--and I wrestle with anxiety over circumstances beyond my control daily. But in my battle with anxiety, I am beginning to understand that my anxiety has less to do with God's trustworthiness than with my own idol of control. Scripture reassures us that nothing in this world happens unless God wills it to happen, because the world belongs to Him alone. Therefore, we can wholly trust that everything on earth happens according to His plan and purpose.
"The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths." Psalm 135:6
"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters." Psalm 24:1-2
That waiting is PURPOSE-FILLED.
As I described in my previous point, waiting has been teaching me many things about myself and my hidden idols. Therefore, waiting is totally purposeful. As scripture reveals, God causes all things to work together for good for those who LOVE Him and are called according to His PURPOSE. For those of us who truly love God, we can rest in knowing that everything in our lives--including this long, painful waiting periods, are being used for our good. Looking back on my own life, my times of waiting have been some of the most transformative and valuable years of my life. If God had just handed everything I wanted to me instantly, then I would not have had the chance to mature and grow into the woman I am today.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Roman 8:28
To hold onto HOPE.
As Paul writes, the ultimate end of suffering is HOPE. Our hope as believers is in something that nothing in this world can take away from us--our hope is in the risen Christ who will return to redeem us and this world. In our waiting, we are reaching this hope through perseverance. Notice that Paul writes that suffering produces perseverance before producing character, then hope. This implies that hope is something we need to work towards continually. I am beginning to understand this myself, because I often deal with moments of utter hopelessness in my waiting. Although God can easily give me hope instantaneously, He wants me to persevere in my faith and work towards achieving this hope. Persevere in prayer, meditating on scripture, and quiet time with God--and you WILL have hope.
"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?" Romans 8:24
To not DESPAIR and receive PEACE.
Finally, waiting has taught me to not despair. In my anxiety, fear, and worry in times of waiting, I am often tempted to despair. But in my waiting, God has graciously reminded me to not despair because He is always with me, and wants me to have peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, promised to give his disciples (us) his peace. He knew, having lived as a human, how our peace is so often attacked in this fallen world. Peace is so hard to come by--and we see how the secular world also struggles to find peace in these dark times. However, as believers we have access to peace that surpasses understanding through Jesus.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9-10
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27-28
So, as I continue in this season of waiting, I will persevere in order to have hope and peace. Waiting IS totally meaningful and being used for our good. And as believers, we have access to hope and peace that can withstand any trial or suffering we experience in this life.
Peace and blessings,