In our culture, we avoid waiting at all costs. We change lanes to get around slow drivers. At the grocery store, we choose the shortest checkout line and stand behind shoppers with the fewest items. We call ahead to order our already “fast food”; Disneyland offers FASTPASS; businesses automate return phone calls so we don’t wait on hold; two-day shipping is available on almost any product imaginable. Endless information is at our fingertips and we can ask Siri every question we dream up. We are not good at waiting!
It should come as no shock then, that we approach God in the same way, desiring His answer instantly. When we don’t sense a clear response right away, we feel abandoned or unloved. We are much like my children, who have a tendency to interrupt me incessantly when I’m working on a project, and quickly meltdown when I cannot immediately respond. Somehow asking them to wait ten minutes for a snack conveys the message that I no longer love them and they will likely never eat again. How is it that, as adults, we still hold on to this mentality?
In Scripture, we see countless examples of people made to wait—not only for their own desires to come to fruition, but also for the fulfillment of God’s promises in their life. The Lord promised Abraham his children would number the stars in the sky, yet he was required to wait over twenty-five years for his son to be born. God rescued the Israelites from slavery then allowed them to wander in the desert for 40 years before reaching the promised land. Noah was commanded to build an ark in preparation for a great flood, but then waited for decades for that flood to come. Story after story in the Bible reminds us that God is not interested in instant gratification. I can only imagine the questions and doubts the Biblical beacons of faith experienced as they waited upon the Lord.
CALLED TO SOMETHING NEW
I too experienced a difficult and painful season of waiting that stirred up many doubts. I had worked in my dream job for eight years. I felt called to my role there and felt passionate about the work I was doing. We were surrounded by an amazing community who had become our family over the years. We lived in an idyllic area close to beaches and Disneyland, enjoying amazing weather, and delicious food and coffee. Our lives were full and so were our hearts.
Each year we prayed and surrendered our time there to the Lord. Living on the University campus, as a requirement of my job, was fun, but definitely had a shelf-life—especially with two young kids! Yet year after year I continued to feel called to my ministry there. In my eighth year, however, I had reached my threshold, and though I had no idea what would come next, I knew we were supposed to leave. I was tired. I was burnt out. My heart longed for something different, but I was also confused. Why would I leave a job I loved so much? What would I do next? How would I live out my calling in another setting when this position fit me so perfectly? What could God possibly have lined-up for me and my family? It was easy to let emotions and doubt cloud the peace I felt about leaving—peace I knew could only come from Jesus.
As the transition neared, fear of the unknown tried to steal the peace I felt in my faithfulness to God’s leading. A flood of questions came pouring in from family, friends, and co-workers who wanted to know what was next. I had no answer to give them.
I would not have the answer to that question for another nine months. God was calling me into a season of waiting and surrender—one of the cloudiest, most confusing seasons of faith I have encountered. Walking in faith just doesn’t seem to make sense sometimes. We want all of the answers before we take the next step but God asks us to trust him while we follow Him in faith. He calls us to trust that He is who He says He is, even when we may feel like He is absent. He doesn’t line out all the details, but He is there in the midst of our doubts, questions, and fears. He walks in the valleys with us, all the while asking us to surrender to Him and follow His lead.
Not only did I leave my secure and comfortable job, but after prayer and fasting, we reached the difficult yet practical decision to move to another state. God didn’t provide a sign in the sky, nor a burning bush telling us where to go (wouldn’t that have been helpful?). There were only quiet, subtle whispers, and feelings that gave us peace and confirmation. Still, when we moved, there were missing details that we couldn’t yet see. I wanted our journey to lead to miraculous circumstances that wowed us once we settled into our new home. I hoped for a sense of joy and excitement because I had followed God’s lead.
Instead, I was met with more waiting and one difficult circumstance after another that only multiplied my questions. Why did God bring us here? Why would He have us leave love and support to go where we had no community? Why would He have me leave a fulfilling job to stay at home and feel purposeless? The questions were never-ending, as they often are in seasons of waiting and pain. I cried out to Jesus in desperation.
BRINGING DOUBTS TO JESUS
Active faith is full of paradox. Trusting God’s goodness but questioning our circumstances. Following Him, yet doubting Him at the same time. I used to be scared to have questions and doubts, thinking that they would eventually crumble my faith. I have come to learn that Jesus welcomes our questions. He doesn’t want us to have everything figured out on our own. He wants a relationship with us where we can ask him anything, and in response, He can reveal His heart. When we come to Him in honesty and transparency, we give Him the space to hold us, teach us, and remind us of the truth.
The Bible tells us that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). It surely isn’t talking about our own love—it’s the love of Jesus! Just as I hold, comfort, and share truth with my daughter when fear brings her to my room at night, Jesus welcomes us to come to Him and receive the same care.
The key to our faith is not pushing away our confusion as if it doesn’t exist; it’s bringing it to the feet of Jesus. It is continuing to take steps in the midst of all of our doubts. For there, in the confusion and fog, you will see God’s faithfulness and love revealed in the most unexpected ways. Our uncertainties can deepen our faith when we take them to Jesus. This doesn’t make the waiting less painful, but it does give us hope!
REMINDERS OF GOD’S FAITHFULNESS
In the darkness, we can ask for God to show us light to remember His faithfulness. As we shopped for houses, I had a wish buried in my heart that was so superfluous I didn’t share it with anyone. I have fond childhood memories of playing in a closet that was like a secret hideaway for me. As I thought about what I wanted in our new home, I pictured a fun space like that for my kids. Sure enough, the house we found has enormous closets in both of the kids’ rooms that represent my wish come true! I laughed in disbelief when I first saw them, knowing that God was using this silly wish to show me that He sees me, He loves me, and He will take care of me.
During the coming months when things became more difficult and it felt like there was no light at the end of the long, arduous tunnel, I would remember the closets. If God cared about something as minuscule as this, how much more does He care about my well-being? When we keep our eyes and heart open, God shows us, even in the smallest things, how much He cares for His beloved.
It took six months after we moved for things to feel like they were beginning to come together and make sense. We will never understand God’s timing or ways of accomplishing His purposes. I don’t know why that season of waiting had to be so difficult. However, I do know God was with me through it all. Through the crying, doubting, questioning, and trusting, He held me, comforted me, and through His gentle whisper, encouraged me to keep going.
As I walked through this challenging time, I discovered several practices that helped keep my heart surrendered and pointed toward hope. Perhaps these will help you too:
- Choose a day every week to fast and pray. (Your fast can be from food, TV, games on your phone, or any number of things)
- Be vulnerable with your friends, family, and community. God will use them to show you His love for you, but you must be honest about your circumstances.
- Ask God to show you how He is involved in the details. Keep a journal of the little ways God reveals His love and provision.
- Surrender the desires and longings of your heart to Him. Write a list of what you hope for and then offer that up to Jesus.
- Seek wisdom and counsel in the midst of your doubts and questions. Let a trusted friend speak into your experience and share the Holy Spirit’s wisdom.
Dear sister, if you are in a season of waiting or change, keep walking in faith. Even if it is just one baby step at a time. Ask your questions. Cling to Jesus. Take your doubts and fears to Him. Allow Him to hold you, to love you, and to remind you of His truth. There is room for both doubt and truth in our relationship with Jesus. In the midst of all of it, remember His promises to you! May the ways He loves you in the small things serve as reminders of how much He cares about the big things!
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