Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

In the Waiting

One of the most painful feelings has to be that of being in waiting. It's a great vulnerability to just sit in the unknown. In her book Passion and Purity (my current read), Elisabeth Elliot wrote: "I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts." We enjoy knowing answers and guarantees of the future so we can plan. All people strive for order of some kind, and waiting strips us of that which we can prepare for. When we don't have the answers of the exacts, often times, we prepare for the worst and hope for the best. However, when we emotionally prepare ourselves for matters not to turn out the way we want or try to jump ship of what we are waiting for at any chance we can find in order not have to deal with discomfort, it can take away from that of the present and from the opportunity to trust God.

I think about Genesis 22:2 (ESV), when God said to Abraham: "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” If you don't already know the significance of Isaac, Abraham and his wife Sarah were of old age and childless when God promised Abraham many descendants. Isaac was the result of the beginning of that promise, a miracle and only child that Abraham and Sarah would conceive. God was now asking Abraham to surrender that which he loved deeply to Him. Although this shows us a glimpse of what God would later do with His own Son to a greater, fuller extent, this event also demonstrates what to do with what we are waiting: give it to God. Yes, even something as "small" as to what you're waiting for is great material for "sacrificing" and giving over to God. T.C. Upham once wrote: "The leave the dearest objects of our hearts in the sublime keeping of general and unspecific belief that God is now answering our prayers in His own time and way, and in the best manner, involves a present process of inward crucifixion...".

In faith, Abraham obeyed and took Isaac to the mountain. When Isaac asked where the sacrifice was, Abraham told him, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son" (Genesis 22:8 (ESV)). Abraham trusted God that He had a purpose in what He was asking Abraham to do. When God asks us to wait, we must trust that He has a reason for it. In all trials we endure, it produces character that makes us more Christ-like (Romans 5:4). There is a certain reason, which we may not always understand, as to why we need to wait or learn things a certain way. What we can rely on is that it is always to our benefit and to His glory that God orchestrates trials in our lives (Romans 8:28). As Abraham was about to go through with the sacrifice, God stops him and says: "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me" (Genesis 22:12 (ESV)). In the end, God did provide that sacrifice because the surrendering was a test for Abraham. However, sometimes, God does not provide us with what we wait for or takes us down a different path than we thought, but the purpose for the waiting was that we grew closer to Him and have been sanctified through the waiting, better off than before.

What if the waiting is God preparing us for that which we hope to receive or to happen? We can trust that He knows the outcome to our future, and that His Sovereign hand purposely orders our every step (Psalm 37:23, Proverbs 16:9). He knows every choice we will make and the outcomes of all situations. It is comforting that we are not left to chaos or chance. We also know that God sees the pain that comes from the waiting, and that He does not leave us or forsake us while we are in that pain (Deuteronomy 31:6). Instead, He takes that pain and turns it into a strength. When we give our season of waiting, whether or not we will find what we seek, He will give us something better, even if it is not what we would have considered or expected for ourselves. His will is always going to be better than ours because His ways and knowledge are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9), so our biggest prayer should always be: "Thy will be done,"

Waiting is not something that ever becomes easy, but there are ways to deal with it. Besides surrendering it over to God, we can also learn to not rob ourselves of the present by focusing too much on the future. To put it in metaphorical terms, when we focus on wondering what book we will read next, we miss out on all the small details, lessons, and joy of our current read. We can focus on the good of the every day, instead of the accompanying frustrations to waiting, and give our full selves to God and be good stewards to what God puts in front of us for that day.

Another quote from Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity addresses this: "We were being asked to trust, to leave the planning to God. God's ultimate plan was as far as beyond our imaginings as the oak tree is from the acorn's imaginings. The acorn does what it was made to do, without pestering its Maker with questions of 'how?' and 'why?'. We who have been given an intelligence and a will and a whole range of wants that can be set against the divine Pattern for Good are asked to believe Him. We are given the chance to trust Him when He says to us, '...If any man will let Himself be lost for my sake, He will find His true self.'

'When will we find it?' we ask. The answer is, 'Trust Me.'

'How will we find it?' The answer again is, 'Trust Me.'

'Why must I let myself be lost?' we persist. The answer is, 'Look at the acorn and trust Me.'"

Matthew 6:34 tells us to take things day by day because each day has its own worries. Our everyday is one step more towards the answer to the "what ifs" and being present allows us to not make waiting into an idol. We can prevent falling into idolatry by seeking God first and foremost and by praying and asking for strength, wisdom, discernment, comfort, peace, and of course patience daily, sometimes multiple times a day or any time you begin to think on that pain from waiting. Before we talk about it with others, we need to talk to God about that in our hearts. When we are seeking the Lord and His will above that which we desire and wait, He will always give us His peace and comfort that surpass all understanding (Philippians 4:6-7).

If you are in a season of waiting, you are in good company because many before you have endured the same, and from Scripture, we can see that God was working all along. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV): "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end." I end this post with one final last-minute Elisabeth Elliot quote: "We are always held in the love of God. We are never wholly at mercy of other people--they are only 'second causes,' and no matter how many second or third or fiftieth causes seem to be in control of what happens to us, it is God who is in charge, He who holds the keys, He who casts the lot finally into the lap. Trusting Him, then, requires that I leave some things to be decided by others."

By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG: @bibleandhotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves. In any free time, she loves to read, study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is King David or Paul.

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