We don’t like waiting do we? Whether it’s in a line, at the doctor’s office, sitting in traffic, or being left on hold, we become easily agitated and impatient. What’s worse is we act as if such inconveniences give us a free pass to project our now foul mood on whoever crosses our paths.If this is how we are affected by the relatively small occurrences of daily life, no wonder the big things really rock our boats. You know, the waiting on God things? Those things that consume our thoughts and can change the trajectory of our lives. Perhaps it’s waiting for Mr. Right, a job offer, a promotion, a pregnancy, a test result, healing, the conversion of a rebellious loved one, the depression to lift or a longing to find purpose. Whatever it is, it is hard to wait.
But have you ever asked yourself why? Why waiting makes you so stressed, anxious or fearful? Why you can’t be okay in the midst of the waiting? And what would that even look like?
Giving Up Control
Over the last few years as I’ve wrestled with these questions I have come to realize that my problem with waiting is really a problem of who is in control. I say I trust God and believe he will work all things for good, but the truth is I don’t trust him very well. What I really believe is I have a superior plan and know better than God what is good. My plan would require no waiting and consequently no stress, fear, or unanswered prayers.
The waiting for months on end to hear back from the publisher about my first book proposal would’ve been eliminated with an immediate positive response.
The church-plant we moved out of state and out of our comfort zone to start would’ve smoothly expanded from the start. There would’ve been no rollercoaster of intermittent despair, or wondering and waiting to see if God would build his church.
The like-minded friends I longed for would’ve always been present instead of me lingering in loneliness.
And certainly for my daughter, there would’ve been no waiting for relief and healing from her long battle with an eating disorder and depression. There would’ve never been this struggle at all.
These are some of my recent things. We all have our stories, big and small, of what we've endured (or are still enduring) waiting for God to act. How easy and stress-free life could be, we think if only we were God.
But as God has been chipping away at my heart that yearns to run the show, I’ve come to see my angling for control as sin. It is not easy to call it for what it is, but it is necessary and good. He could’ve made us instantly holy upon salvation, but instead deliberately left us in sin so we could see our deeper need for a Savior. He could’ve also blessed us with the perpetual happiness we want, but instead he shows us through trials and suffering that in him alone is our hope, and even in the waiting there is joy.
Could it be then that it takes “waiting” to see more of God’s goodness?
Not Giving In To Fear
In my growing realization of my true condition and seeing his grace toward me in spite of it, I am learning to trust him better. And in the waiting, he is teaching me what it looks like not to give into fear.
Did you know “Do not fear” is the most given command in Scripture? Clearly, God knows our tendency to forget he’s got us in his hands. To forget that in him we are not only secure, but he has our best. So over and over again we are reminded of this truth in his word.
But in our waiting and wondering if there is an end in sight or if our circumstances will ever change, how is it possible not to fear?
What God has been showing me is himself. He is the answer. I know that sounds cliché, like a Sunday school answer, but with my eyes fixed on him is the only way I can stand secure even in the seemingly unending waiting moments of life. To get this straight, I must dwell on the one story of the Bible; the unfolding story of a conquering king who came to rescue and redeem his people. Who he was for Israel – faithful, patient, long-suffering – despite their sin and circumstances is who he is for me. He lived the perfect life for me and went to the cross on my behalf so that God’s love for me would be secured for all eternity.
Who he is for me is the foundation of my peace that surpasses understanding and the solution to my fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).” Perfect love - the answer to my fear, anxiety and waiting - is only found in Jesus.
Waiting on and Resting in Him
Practically speaking what this looks like – the living without the fear, the resting and waiting on him – is not a one and done sort of thing. No, I still fear and feel stress. I still hate to wait on the Lord and try to control things myself. I still struggle with his goodness to me. And because this is true, I must constantly hear the good news of the gospel of who he is for me (not to be mistaken with good advice on how to live the better Christian life). I need the word about Christ preached to me and I need to preach it to myself. I call this my gospel self-talk.
We all talk to ourselves throughout the day and whatever it is we say easily and quickly becomes our reality. So the only way I will ever be okay with not being okay, be able to experience joy in the midst of hardship, and be still in times of waiting is to flood my mind with Christ. Who he is for me is who I am. This matters – daily. When I forget is when I crumble under the weight of unknowns, the whys and the waiting of this world.
But when daily doses of gospel self-talk seep into my heart and I remember who he is for me that is what I cling to so I can rest in him even in the waiting. If we could just hold on to that and know in him is truly where life is found.
I now have two published books and my daughter is (mostly) in a better emotional and mental place than she was. Having been delivered to the other side of waiting with both these significant and consuming issues has been a relief that I am thankful for. But neither one had the power to completely satisfy. There are still other things I’m waiting on – the continued growth of our church for one and on some days to know I have a friend who cares. If those are ever answered in the way I want, there will still be something else that burdens my mind. So I’ve come to see the answer to waiting is not as much in the end result as it is learning to rest in him.
Who he is for me is the anchor for my soul, and the answer to my anxious heart.
KRISTEN HATTON is the author of Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World for teen girls and the teen devotional, Get Your Story Straight. Kristen discovered her passion for teaching, speaking, and writing about grace and growth in the gospel through many years of leading a teen girls Bible study. She resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with her pastor husband and their three teenagers. To learn more, visit www.kristenhatton.com.