We have all waited for something. Whether it's for our coffee to brew or the stop light to turn or our doctor to call, we find ourselves waiting every single day. Research shows the average person collectively spends about an hour a day just waiting.
And not a single one of us enjoys the process. The not knowing, the "wasted time", the lack of control, the sheer suspense and, in some cases, agony of waiting can just about drive us stir crazy. Or, in more serious situations, to our knees.
Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I were waiting on the Lord to give us a baby - another child and a sibling for our only daughter.
Expectant and ready to grow our family to two or three kids spaced appropriately 24 months apart, I quit my corporate job to be a stay-at-home mom. We bought a house with an extra bedroom. And we became pregnant when our daughter was about 18 months old.
Right on time.
We heard the baby's heartbeat. We dreamed of names. We shared the news. We confidently moved our toddler to a big girl bed.
But then we had a miscarriage. And another. And another. And another.
For four long years, we learned the difficult but necessary lesson that our timing was not in our hands. We walked by the empty room, and we wept. The day we dismantled the crib felt like a day of defeat, a day of dreams indefinitely deferred.
We learned that we were not as in control of our lives and family planning as we once thought. And honestly, we were humbled and painfully frustrated by this.
Doubting God's goodness when waiting
We so often did not wait well.
The seed of frustration, watered by many tears, grew into anger and bitterness. Time seemed to be slipping away, the gap growing with each year our daughter celebrated another birthday without a brother or sister. It was difficult to not let our hearts harden as we waited on God.
Haven't we all felt frustrated by the timing of various circumstances and, perhaps, even doubted God’s goodness along the way?
The not knowing is what makes the waiting so hard. How will this turn out? When will the suffering end? Will God answer our prayer in the way that we hope?
And, of course, so many people wanted to know when we were going to have another baby. Even my yard man, at one point, innocently asked me in front of my three year old (who'd also been asking) when we were going to give her a baby brother or sister.
Without missing a beat, my old soul child quickly responded, "We're praying to Jesus about that, Mr. Jose."
On my sixth pregnancy, it finally seemed that we would deliver a healthy baby. We cautiously waited four months to tell anyone. (Looking back, we should have asked for prayer immediately, but our faith was fragile.) On Thanksgiving week, with gratitude planted deep in our hearts and control seemingly back on our side, we shared the exciting news with family.
It's so easy to leave the lessons of the valley behind when we think we've scaled the mountaintop.
But the next day, the nightmare of miscarrying started all over again. My husband called for an emergency visit to the clinic, and they agreed to see me the following day even though they were closed for the holiday. They knew our history and could hear the desperation in our voices.
Time was of the essence. Tick tock. Tick tock. Our hearts grew wild from waiting.
Seeking God's heart when waiting
Sleep alluded me and, for the first time in my life, I stayed awake all night in prayer and searching Scripture.
But instead of only praying for a solution, I sincerely sought the heart of God.
I prayed for Him to prepare my heart for what we would find the following day. I pleaded for the child inside of me and searched for a promise to hold on to. I gave my baby over to Him, whether she lived or died. I thought of all the things I'd done wrong that perhaps disqualified me from deserving another healthy child, even though I knew this wasn't the way God worked.
And then He led me to Micah, a previously disregarded book in my Bible.
"Now listen to what the Lord is saying:
Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice...
I am crying out to you from the deepest place in my heart, Lord.
My people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you?
I cannot handle another loss, Father. Please, no more waiting for a child.
What should I bring before the Lord when I come to bow before God on high?
Should I come before Him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves?
Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousand streams of oil?
I'll do anything God. Just tell me what I need to do.
Should I give my firstborn for my transgression, the child of my body for my own sin?
Is this because of past sins? Am I not good enough?
Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,
and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:1-8).
God wasn't punishing me. He wasn't ignoring me. He wasn't displeased with me.
He was leading me to a tenacious and transforming faith.
God wanted me to love faithfulness, because without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). He wanted me to walk humbly with Him, to abide in Him, especially when I was waiting.
What it means to wait
To wait in Greek is to perimeno. The prefix peri means "surrounding" or "enclosing", like a perimeter. The meno part means "to abide". Put together, perimeno means that God's abiding presence will be with you, cover you, protect and keep you within safe boundaries.
"You have encircled me; You have placed your hand upon me" (Psalm 139:5).
When God has you in the place of waiting, He is inviting you to draw near to Him. He is not putting you off but pulling you in to a deeper relationship with Him.
Do you feel frustrated, abandoned, ignored or punished by God because you've been waiting on something for so long?
Waiting is an invitation to abide in Jesus.
God loved me too much to leave me in my broken state, in my limited understanding of Him where I often put myself - my strengths and my weaknesses - at the center. He loved me too much to let an ounce of my pain be wasted. He was refining me, stripping me of idols and barriers that pushed Him farther away.
I was His beloved child, even if I never had another child of my own.
Wrestling with God in the waiting
That night, in the waiting, I wrestled with God. It was my Jacob moment that forever changed my heart.
Jacob (son of Isaac) was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until day break …
But Jacob said, "I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
“What is your name?" the man asked.
“Jacob," he replied.
“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” He said. “It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked Him, "Please tell me Your name."
But He answered, “Why do you ask My name?” And He blessed him there.
Jacob then named the place Peniel, “For I have seen God face to face,” he said, “and I have been delivered” (Genesis 32:24-30).
Don't miss this lesson: The struggle preceded the blessing.
Not letting go of God, holding on in faith even though you don't understand, don't like it and don't have guaranteed results, deeply pleases the Lord. It is the only way we can wait well.
If you are in a valley now, waiting and wondering if God even cares, don’t let go of God.
Maybe you feel as though you’ve miscarried a dream, a plan or part of your future. Your current reality does not look like you thought it would and you just can't imagine how God could redeem it for good.
Trusting God in the waiting
Trust in God and His promises:
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory..." (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Abide in Jesus, even (or maybe especially) if you’re disappointed, weary, heartbroken, angry, bitter or depressed from waiting. He will keep you and guide you and shelter you, and yes, bless you. He will deliver you from the waiting - at just the right time.
That night, as I wrestled with God, He spoke directly into my heart:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways. For as heaven is higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
I knew these things to be true. I could reflect back on many instances in my life where my way did not prove to be beneficial. My thoughts and perspective were limited. I was operating in a completely different time zone than God.
Delays and detours are often divine interventions. Part of the majesty of God is the mystery of God. There is a reason for the waiting.
When you’re staring into the face of uncertainty, you have a choice to abide in fear or, in faith, to abide in Jesus. Choosing to abide in Jesus will enable you to wait well.
That night, as I wrestled with God to know if my baby would live or die, He did a mighty work within my heart. Like Jacob who was renamed Israel, God changed my name from control to surrender, from fear to peace, from strife to contentment, from self-reliant to God-dependent.
The only thing I could cling to was Jesus, and I conceded that He was enough even if the report the next day showed another baby lost. I declared that God was in charge of my body, my family and my future, and His plans were for my good (Jeremiah 29:11).
Will you wait well? Will you wrestle through your struggles and let go of outcomes and control but never let go of God?
He is more than willing to bless you, because He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
That sweet sixth baby did live to see the world. She is now seven years old and loves Jesus with a deep sense of knowing that she was chosen by Him, prayed for by many, and born - at just the right time. A few years later, God gave her a baby sister and then another.
His ways are higher and so much better than we can ask for or imagine.
Abide in Jesus as you wait well on Him.