Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 ESV).
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty crummy when it comes to waiting. I despise long lines, long cooking times, and basically any type of long wait. Our “on demand” society hasn’t helped me out in this area, as I’m guessing it hasn’t helped you, either.
Unfortunately, waiting plays a starring role in the life of faith. Following Jesus could oftentimes be described as a “hurry up and wait” kind of walk. The process of refining hearts and capturing minds is a slow one, and one that is occurring essentially every day that we live and breathe on this planet.
It’s funny how God often works: so much of what I’ve been reading and studying lately deals with faith and how walking faithfully with God is a daily, hour by hour walk. Our path is lit just enough to see the next step. Jesus says follow me—but not to where or to what purpose. We rely on God for guidance in the day ahead, not worrying about tomorrow and borrowing trouble from future days (see Matthew 6:34).
When I’m reading and meditating, it all makes perfect, lovely sense. It spreads out before me like a mesmerizing dance of Jesus and follower, and my heart cheers out yes!
When the rubber hits the road? Not so much. I find this slow dance excruciating at times and sometimes downright maddening as I squint my eyes to see past the step in front of me … is there a sign in the darkness ahead? Can I figure out a way through the fog?
I’ve written a little before about our son’s speech disability and how each week we’re in 3 days of some type of therapy or focused work on his speech. We’ve been at it now for about 6 months, and as the weeks go by, it’s becoming clear to me how desperately I longed for this to be a quick, easy “fix.” Just a few months of therapy and **poof** the problem is gone!
That is, however, not the case. Isaiah has done tremendously well in therapy, making a great deal of progress for which we are so thankful … but it’s painfully clear that we still have a long road ahead of us. When I step back and take in the big picture, my heart sinks at how much farther we have to journey this road. What’s harder, I have no idea how long the journey will last. I sense the powerful grip of fear around my throat—which typically sends me to Googling and reading all kinds of articles (which, let’s be honest, usually turns out to be a bad idea). No therapist or article or even other mom’s experience can tell me what my child’s experience will look like.
Every fiber in my being wants to know the answer and the outcome. Every cell cries out for assurance that everything will be OK. The soft, small flame lighting just the step or two in front of our path seems woefully inadequate, and the mom in me wants to crawl out of my skin in search of something to make it all better.
In these moments, it feels as though the waiting threatens to break me apart. I am convinced that my here and now could not possibly be as good as my there—wherever “there” may be.
Yet the problem with this attitude is that it causes me to lose sight of all God is doing in my here. God is always, always working—in us, through us, around us, for us, and for the benefit of others. Learning to wait well is a crucial link in the walk of a Jesus follower, as it is only in the waiting that we will grow and stretch and learn and emerge from the refiner’s fire equipped and prepared to be a part of God’s work.
My friend, I’m afraid there is no way around the waiting: faith requires it of us. God teaches and blesses us through it—if we can only sit still, hold on, and endure the gnawing madness of our own desire to predict and control outcomes … outcomes which, truth be told, we could never predict or control anyway, despite our heartiest blue ribbon efforts.
What would it look like to wait well? To persevere through frustrating or painful circumstances while holding onto our assurance of things hoped for and standing firmly rooted in the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)?
In the fleshing out of all this waiting, I am reminded and drawn to a beautiful, familiar passage in Isaiah:
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV).
In the excruciating game of waiting, these verses hold the key: hope in the Lord. This hope—this choosing to hope—paves the path to the supernatural strength required to continue waiting, day and week and year after year, until the story is told. Until the answer comes—perhaps the one we desired, perhaps the one we didn’t.
The amazing truth is that, while all this waiting threatens to weigh us down and drag us into the depths, God provides a way in which we can soar. We can run, skip, and walk calmly while we wait and hope in Him, knowing that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NIV).
What are you waiting for today? A job? A spouse? A child? Physical healing? Relational healing? A better season of life overall? Let me challenge you, as I challenge myself, to wait with hope and assurance that God is faithful, even when we don’t have the answer. Even when there is no roadmap or plan of action. Even when all is pitch black beyond the one step in front of us.
We have no idea what hangs in the balance while we wait, what lessons must be learned, what character must be forged, what puzzle pieces God must move into place as only He can. There is so much good to be gleaned in the here, while we’re waiting to arrive there.
So practice waiting well, my friend—and enjoy the eagle’s view.