What are you waiting for? A new relationship? A better job? Your first house? An injury to heal?
When we're young we can't wait to grow up, and when we're grown we're constantly looking ahead to the next chapter in life: When will I finish school, get married, have children, start my own business, write a book, and more?
We always seem to be waiting for something to happen—or not happen.
Sure, it's hard to wait. And yes, it would be great if things happened in our timing. But there are larger forces at play.
What does God have to say about waiting—and how can we learn to do so with a joyful heart and good attitude?
First, waiting can be a time of preparation. God is getting things ready, and getting us ready for His blessings.
Also, waiting refines us; it builds character and teaches us to exercise our "trust muscles" so they get strong and firm as we learn to trust God more.
Here's the thing: Just because there is a delay, it doesn't always mean the road is closed forever.
In Romans 12:12, we are admonished to "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Oh, if only it were that easy.
When things are taking entirely too long (in our estimation), we may begin to take matters into our own hands and take control. But when we do, there are consequences.
For example, if you put a cake in the oven and remove it before the right time, you'd get a hot, gooey mess. But if you would have waited, you'd have a luscious, freshly-baked cake that was done and ready to eat.
Waiting makes a world of difference.
How do we relinquish control, and let God work in our lives as we wait on something—or someone?
Here are six ways to learn to wait well:
1. Know on whom you wait. As you wait, learn to trust God. He is the One who loves you most. He wants the best for you. He is good and He is faithful. Always. Look to Him, not the answer, or thing or person on whom you wait. Any other way and you will be disappointed. "My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken." (Psalm 62:5-6).
2. Wait with hope. You can choose your attitude: to fret or have faith. Ask God to help you with your outlook. Ask Him for patience and peace. Only He can do what we cannot do. As you wait, God is building in you strength, courage, fortitude and stamina. "I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope." (Psalm 130:5).
3. Pray and obey. Waiting is not a time to do nothing. It's the time to pray and to act—to be about the Father's business as He leads you. Share your disappointment and frustrations with the Lord as you pray. And follow His lead. We wait in hope, believing even when we cannot see. "But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Romans 8:24-25).
4. Surrender and hold on. Appreciate where you are in the process—even if you are at the start of a new venture, there is hope ahead. Small beginnings can yield large results. Surrender is like releasing a seed into the soil and trusting God to grow your dreams, even when you don't see anything happening.
5. Remember what God has done in the past. As you begin to let go of your grasp that things should turn out the way you think they should be, peace comes. Fear subsides as you look back on what God has done in the past—His mighty power and miracles—for those in the Bible, for others, and for you. Remind yourself that God has worked, is working, and will continue to be at work in the future.
6. Live in the now. Where is your focus? Are you looking so far into the future that you're dropping the ball on what's happening today? Hope with future eyes, but keep your hands on what you are doing and who you are becoming in the present.
Lesson from a Bamboo Plant
Bamboos are fast growing plants. But before they grow tall, they grow deep. It's a lesson in patience and faith, because once you plant a bamboo seed you don't see any grow for four years. Nothing seems to be happening.
Nothing at all.
You may get discouraged or frustrated; you may even begin to lose hope that anything will ever sprout from the seed you planted.
And then, finally, in the fifth year the bamboo plant shoots up a whopping 80 feet!
Such incredible growth could not have been possible without the extensive root system created during those first formative years—a strong support to hold the plant growth that was coming.
The waiting was for a reason.
When You're Tired of Waiting
Do you feel like nothing is happening in your situation? Don't give up just because you don't see any movement in your life. God is at work, always at work, behind the scenes.
Keep the faith. You never know when your day will come, and things begin to change. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time."
In God's timing, things happen.
Winter's snowy blasts turn to fragrant spring blossoms.
The baby is delivered.
Your boyfriend finally proposes.
Your husband returns from military deployment.
You get the job.
We may not always know the reasons for delay, or like them, but we can trust God is working all things together for the good—and for His glory. Have courage. Have faith. God is in control, and His timing is perfect.
Take your hands off and trust God—even when you do not understand.
The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it.