How to Wait
Read about what it means to wait here
We know that waiting is an opportunity to be bound to Christ, wound tightly with him like a strong rope. Seasons of waiting are times that we can savor the character of God and spend time thinking on His promises. But how do we actually do this? How do we wait well and keep our eyes on Jesus in the midst of questions, unmet desires, and struggles? Here are three areas that I believe sum up how we should wait.
We wait with Christ
This is obviously the big one. We have to come to Christ in our waiting. As we talked about yesterday, waiting in the original language literally meant to be bound together. Don't miss out on an opportunity to be joined together with Christ! Even though waiting can feel lonely, scripture tells us that God is never far from His children. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 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 40:28-31
God is everlasting, He is never tired, He never needs a break from us. Through the Holy Spirit we get to have communion with God whenever we want. So don't believe the lie that you're alone. Preach the gospel to yourself, remind yourself that He is with you and that His Word says He'll never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)
How do we stay with Christ? We stay with Him through consistent time in His Word, through prayer, and through spending time in the local church. We can't run from Christ and think that we'll have the fruits of living with the Holy Spirit. The only way I'll have peace, the only way I'll fight discontentment, the only way I'll have joy in the midst of sorrow is by staying close to Christ. Period. It's vital that we spend time with Christ. I love this quote on prayer by John Piper,
"Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that He will provide the help we need. Prayer humbles us as needy and exalts God as wealthy."
We wait with the Church
It is so important to be plugged into a local church. Yes, you can be encouraged by online ministries but ultimately nothing could ever take the place of sitting down face to face with other believers and sharing your life with them. We need other believers to encourage us and point us back to Jesus when our eyes have wandered. We need people who will preach the truth of the gospel to us when we're weary and tired and can't seem to do it ourselves. We need people who will continually help us fix our eyes on Jesus, no matter what circumstance we might be going through. For me, this is an area I have to consistently practice vulnerability. It's really easy for me to want to withdraw and not fully let people in when I'm struggling through a season of waiting. But it's when I really allow myself to be vulnerable and honest that the Lord can use the community of believers around me to encourage me and challenge me. Sometimes I've had hard conversations with friends when my attitude hasn't been what it needs to be. Sometimes I've needed to be corrected and reminded to keep my eyes on Jesus. It's not always roses and butterflies when you live in community with other believers but it IS always worth it.
We wait in Expectation
We can wait in hope knowing that the Lord is faithful. Waiting in hope and in expectation doesn't mean that our hope is in our circumstance working out the way we desire. Waiting in hope and expectation is about where our hope is placed. Jesus. I can't place my hope in earthly things, my hope has to be set on Christ alone. I can wait with joy and expectation because of the truth I know about God. He is faithful. He is sovereign. He is all-knowing. There's nothing in my life that's slipping past Him, He is not late, He does not delay. His timing for all things is nothing short of perfection. My hope is in a God who doesn't change, a God that is trustworthy, a God who spoke the world into existence with just a Word. When I start to shift my thoughts and behold the wonder and majesty of Jesus I can start to see my own season of waiting in a new light. When I place my hope where it needs to be, I can have joy in the midst of waiting. This doesn't mean that everything is always rainbows and cotton candy and that you won't have hard days or ever feel wavering in your hope. But it does mean that in these moments you can preach the gospel to yourself, reflect on the character of God, and trust that He'll give you the faith you need to continue. I love these few paragraphs John Piper shared about grief. I feel like grief can be part of waiting seasons in some way or another based on individual circumstances and I think what he says here is so good.
Occasionally, weep deeply over the life that you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life that he’s given you.
The reason for that counsel is 1 Thessalonians 4:13, where Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed . . . about those who are asleep” — about those who have died — “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” So, there’s real grieving, which he expects, and there’s hope. Grieving is real, losses are real, pain is real — really felt, really expressed — and hope is real that changes it profoundly.
I have in mind two kinds of losses: those who had something precious and lost it, and those who hoped for something precious and never had it. It works both ways. Sixty years go by, and forty years on you think, “I’ve come to terms with that,” and then one morning it breaks over you, and you weep about a 40-year old loss, or a 40-year “never have,” and my counsel is, yes, go ahead, embrace that moment. Weep.
But then, say to your weeping after a season, “No. You will not define me, sorrow, because my God has said, ‘No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly’ (Psalm 84:11). Therefore, even though it was good in one sense, and I miss it in one sense, I trust my God, and he has not withheld anything that is good for me.” Yes, let there be weeping in those seasons — feel the losses. Then wash your face, trust God, and embrace the life he’s given you.
I find this to be such sweet encouragement. You can weep, you can mourn, you can pour out your sorrow before God. BUT. Then we grab hold of the promises of God and stand firm on who He is. You don't always have to be "fine". You can feel what you feel. But we can't stay there. We have to wash our face and preach the truth of the gospel to ourselves. I don't know about you, but this gives me so much freedom!
I really wanted you to be able to chew on these concepts for a day before I give out some practical resources for waiting well. I want you to really think through these questions and start to apply whatever the Lord might be teaching you!
THOUGHTS TO PONDER:
In which of these three areas do you see your biggest struggles? What aspect of these things is hard for you in seasons of waiting and how can you start to combat that?
What is one practical thing you can do today to move forward with the Lord in one of these three areas?
Share your struggles with a friend today. Cry with someone, ask someone for prayer, or just be vulnerable with where you are. We need each other!