A long-time friend recently confided to me that she and her husband are struggling to conceive a child.
“Being patient is the hardest thing for me right now,” she said to me. “I believe I will get a baby, but my heart wants it now. I know it will be sweeter in God’s time, but it’s so hard to watch others getting what I want so badly.” I grieved – and I hoped – with her.
I too know what it means to long for something – or someone – so much that my heart seems to physically hurt. The pain of longing is real, and certainly reinforced when watching those around us receive what we yearn for most.
What do you wait for? Do you peruse Single Matters Magazine because you wait for a spouse? Did you marry years ago but now wait for the restoration of your marriage? Maybe, like my friend, you desire a baby. Or perhaps you parent a child and now await their return from an emotional far-off place. Whatever the need or desire – healing, financial breakthrough, freedom from despairing emotions – we all wait for something.
Often coming to the place of waiting is a process itself. From the boxes stored in the deep corners of our emotional closets, we unpack the dusty desires of our hearts stowed away long ago amidst fear, failure and inadequacy. One by one, we unwrap the desires from the fear, examining each of the fragile figurines and setting them out in the light as we recall dreams that never came to pass.
Now fully in the light, there’s no going back into boxes for these delicate darlings. Fears exposed and vulnerability tangible, we articulate our hopes to God. We pin them to our vision boards, tape scriptures to the bathroom mirror, and pray for faith as we fix our eyes on things unseen.
And we wait.
We wait hopefully, expectantly.
We wait hopelessly, despairingly.
The roller coaster jerks upward and plunges downward. I wake in the morning with confidence for the thing hoped for. At midday I pen encouragement on a Post-It. By evening the tears flow as I cry out, “Lord, my faith is fading. I can’t handle this anymore! How long must I wait?”
The Lord asks me to trust Him with the fragile yearnings of my soul, but in my desperation, I quickly place my hopes in the hands of mere mortals unable to handle with care my delicate dreams. Inevitably, the dream ends up in a million pieces on the floor.
Then my damaged pride gathers the shattered fragments of my dream, makes a haphazard do-it-yourself (DIY) mosaic, and I call it “good.” My lack of patience causes me to concede God’s best for my mess.
Patience. “Hopeful forbearance,” as some oxymoronically define it. The fruit of the spirit I seem to need most yet pray for least. After all, it’s far more gratifying to pray for the faith to move mountains than to admit I might endure a waiting period before the mountain actually moves. How often I forget that God’s timeline does not always correspond to my understanding.
But if my steps are divinely ordered, God must have purpose for me in this season of waiting. To merely cope through the waiting, rather than journey through it intentionally, would forfeit blessing.
What is the purpose in my waiting? How do I wait intentionally? And how do I change my mindset to see waiting as an opportunity and not an affliction?
Teach me to wait for you, Lord.
A year ago, I held the DIY mosaic of my dreams. But when it shattered this time, I didn’t pick up the pieces. I was too exhausted to sweep the fragments off the floor. So instead of clearing the mess, I just sat in it, and trusted God to do what only he can do.
As I continue waiting on the Lord, I learn to trust him more, to rest in his presence, and to prepare for the season to come. Like my friend trying to conceive, what I wait for depends utterly on God. I cannot control or manipulate my way to the evidence of things unseen, and certainly no DIY mosaic will substitute for destiny.
Whatever it is that you wait for today, don’t pack up the dreams. If they’re shattered, don’t settle for the DIY mosaics. Wait for the Lord, for only He can take our shattered hopes, piece them back together, and make them like new. And in the process, He’ll do the same for our souls.
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” –Psalm 40:1-2
“Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” –Isaiah 30:18
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” –Psalm 27:13-14