I hate waiting. Always. I can’t think of a time when I have enjoyed waiting for something. I am such an action person and this is no bad thing but it does mean that in times of waiting I struggle.
I have been on a waiting journey recently and as I have been reflecting on this I realise this is the story of us all particularly right now as the world battles COVID 19. Some of us do better with waiting than others and you can guess where I am on that spectrum. However, we have all come through waiting times, are in them now or are about to go through them. Whatever stage you are at … waiting is part of life. But choosing to wait well is a choice.
Right now, the world we live in is waiting for what for many is a nightmare to pass and for dawn to break. Our hope it that we will get through it and that as many people as possible will be unaffected or impacted negatively and I pray this is the case. But sadly, the likelihood of no one being affected is both unrealistic and not the case. We will all be effected by this.
Many aspects of waiting are painful as many of us can testify right now and the challenge of not being in control of this or the outcomes of what we are waiting for is really tough. However, that doesn’t mean that waiting is wasted time or that good things cannot come from waiting.
Everyone knows the quote we all get sighted when struggling with the journey to a result we want to see happen now of being told ‘it’s about the journey and not the destination.’ But what does that mean for the tough stuff? For the waiting periods in our lives and the times of uncertainty? The idea that the more important thing rather than the end destination of breakthrough is the journey of difficulty to it has caused me questions and as a result got me thinking about how the Bible views waiting.
Waiting in the Bible is a key part of the process where God works in people’s lives and where he helps them to learn about his love, grace and provision for their lives. Most of the bible wouldn’t exist and the stories of triumph over evil come from times where people waited on God and waited for their breakthrough. Often this was in the midst of adversity and huge challenge. This has challenged me as I have been struggling to wait well and believe for the breakthrough I need to see in my life. Will I choose to wait well or spend my waiting time fighting it, refusing to accept it and see the goodness in the space before something happens? Is it even possible to find goodness in the midst of a terrible disaster like COVID 19 or waiting for something you are certain isn’t going to end well? How do we find Gods goodness and provision for us when we cannot see how the end will turn out?
We all want the story of breakthrough, we all want to know about how someone overcame a challenge, how the darkest story ended up in light and goodness but for all those stories of triumph there were dark times, waiting times, hardship and pain. We can forget this part especially when we are going through it. Until we are out of the pain we forget that the story of breakthrough starts in a prison. That may be physical prison or a metaphorical one, but freedom comes through leaving our chains and breaking free. There is a defining moment when we walk free, when we move on or when we can face our fears and can see triumph but all those defining moments were prepared for in the prison, in the waiting place that was hard and painful. Often this has been behind closed doors, in our minds, in private conversations, private battles that others cannot experience or see that is our battle ground and our defining place.
It’s that place that the Bible records countless examples of where God called his people out of darkness into light, from slavery into freedom, from bondage to breakthrough. The waiting place is never wasted with God no matter how bleak or messy it is.
So, how do I find Gods goodness and provision for me when we cannot see how the end will turn out?
Remembering Gods goodness.
As I’ve been struggling with waiting for breakthrough these past weeks I have been reminded of previous examples where I have experienced breakthrough when things have been dark and uncertain.
An example that came to mind was when I was in hospital after giving birth to my son Joshua. I had expected to be home after an easy birth and enjoying the new realities of becoming a family of three however these expectations couldn’t have been further from the truth. Instead I found myself stuck in hospital feeling ghastly and fighting for my life. I remember asking where God was in all of it and how unfair it all felt. My perspective saw my problem and that was it. Reflecting back on this and knowing in hindsight how God was working for my good on so many levels I realize that there is something I can take from this experience now. It says something into the uncertainty I feel and the challenges I face today and puts them in a different light. It taught me many lessons, but amongst them that no matter what I see God is always doing more than I can see and is for me, with me and will not let his promises to me go forgotten even in the face of difficulty.
He also taught me that he is always good, that he has my life in his hand and is in control even when I cannot see. He taught me that often he has way better plans then I have for myself and that out of the worst pain and heartache he brings his joy, peace and love to my life in life changing ways that I wouldn’t change for anything…with hindsight.
Today I feel fearful, I feel that my calling is in question, my strength feels weak and my spirit doesn’t feel very bold and courageous. Many parts of my last couple weeks have been full of uncertainty, things I cannot change or control. I have felt overwhelmed at what I face as I try to manage my role as a Mother, as a Director of a charity going through a new focus and trying to navigate a new church plant and the challenges that brings. I have found myself in the early hours of the morning up unable to sleep and questioning it all. In that place of desperation, I have been reminded to reflect on how God has been faithful up till now through other difficult things and that in anything I have ever faced he has never let me go and has always worked everything for his good. Always.
This past week I found myself on my knees crying out to God and asking why? Why this way? Why now? Those prayers and cries haven’t been answered yet and the waiting hasn’t ended. But God hasn’t left me and he has reminded me to go to his word to find his truths and promises for me again. To remind myself that my life is not my own, like the day I was in hospital asking a midwife whether they knew if the medication I was on was working and what would happen if it didn’t work. Her answer was just that she hoped it did work. I remember feeling like the air had been knocked out of me. Was this it? I had never thought ‘my time’ would look like this? I remember texting Tom my husband asking him if he thought I was dying (poor guy) and being so very afraid when he didn’t reply with ‘no’ but that he too ‘hoped’ the medication I was on would work. Being told you have severe sepsis is never great news. In that moment I couldn’t see God and everything felt like it was going wrong. Very wrong.
But God was working and brought supernatural healing to me in many different ways. Not because I prayed the right prayers, said the right things or did the right things, on the contrary I felt far from God, I was annoyed and was questioning everything in my life…maybe similar to now when the whole of life has been turned upside down and has left me questioning what the future holds and how I will ever get to ‘walk in the dreams’ again or see the promises that God has given me of his Kingdom here. But is he finished? No. This story has just begun.
Focus on Jesus and not my problem.
This isn’t to say my problem isn’t important or that this is easy but as fearful and uncertain as it is I am challenged today to look to Jesus and let him fight my battle for me. It isn’t, mine to fight and it is his to win. He in fact has already won it.
One of my reasons for hating waiting is it often requires me to do nothing. This is hard on a number of levels for me. One, because I am a ‘doer’. Second, because the result or outcome then is not in my control and may not be what I hope for or want. But it is a place of hope. If all the hardship in life was down to me fixing it, doing the right thing or saying the right thing I would not be here and most of the good things in my life wouldn’t be either. So, I have to learn to sit and wait and trust that he is working for my good even if I cannot see it. In this place I am reminded that Jesus tells me that his burden is ‘light’ and that most of the ‘weight’ I feel is often my own doing and not his.
This time is defining…not in how good a job I do of it but on my response to lean into him, to sit and wait, let him look after me. He asks for my heart, my willingness to trust and he promises to do the rest.
In the hospital ward I learnt that God was in control when things looked like they were spiraling out of control. I didn’t have to do anything other than wait and choose to trust him.
So today I am challenged to choose to trust God with my life, everything in it and all the dreams and hopes I have. I trust that he will pull me through because he is good and cares for me no matter how much my life is together or not.
Sometimes things have to get so bad that we have no choice but to totally refocus, letting go of everything so we can refocus our priorities on what I am called to do and what God is called to do. I am not God and therefore I don’t hold control…that is his job. The pressure therefore is off. So, whether that is me looking after my kids, doing my job, leading a church as flawed and imperfect a job I may do he is in control and these things belong to him.