The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.Lamentations 3:25
Waiting on God can be difficult. Most of us don’t like to wait around for other things, so why would it be different when we’re waiting for/on God?
Well, the difference is that waiting on God is not a passive activity, like when you’re standing in line at the grocery store or stuck in traffic. Waiting on God requires an act of faith. Like the verse in Lamentations, just because one is waiting for God doesn’t mean he/she stops seeking Him. It is faith paired with action that makes all the difference in the waiting.
Often, waiting gets hard because the desire to take control surfaces and drowns out your trust in God. Other times, it gets hard because you see nothing happening. There’s no visible growth (kind of like an elephant ear plant I got earlier this year, which just barely sprouted!). And then, waiting gets hard when you aren’t hearing God’s voice. And that makes you question, maybe even doubt, and try to make sense of what you’re supposed to do on your own.
We have a hard time letting go. We want to control the process, from its speed to the ins and outs of the details. But when you’re waiting on God, and for Him, it’s much better to let go and let Him take the lead. Otherwise, I think it delays the process even more. It might be cliché to say, but we must learn how to let go and let God.
In this post I want to talk about how to wait on God when these things happen:
- When you want to control things,
- When you don’t see any growth, and
- When you aren’t hearing God’s voice,
Because I think it’s important to know that our waiting on God isn’t for nothing!
When You Want to Control Things
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6
It gets hard to wait on God when the desire to control comes up.
Personally, I struggle with wanting things to look and feel a certain way (or struggled, I should say, I’m learning to let go!). But because I love my routines, am particular about goals and planning, and battle the temptation to overachieve and perfect everything, I end up with clenched fists when I feel like I’m about to lose control.
I sometimes feel like a toddler with tightened fists, gripping dirt and pebbles, while God tries to pry open my fingers to let go. (If you’ve ever tried to pry open a toddler’s fist, you know it’s hard!). I’ll stubbornly hold on to certain parts of my life that had already turned into sand, hoping I can add to my sandcastle. And slowly but surely, God strips things away, like a crashing wave you can’t get mad at. To where I have nothing left to control other than my attitude when I wake up every morning.
Not that God wants to take away good things from your life; He is just making room for better things. Which makes me think of Abram and Sarai when they took matters into their own hands and used Hagar as a surrogate. They tried to control the situation and speed up the process by taking God out of the equation. But God will never be out of the equation. His purpose will still prevail (Proverbs 19:21).
Even when you try to take matters into your hands, God will make His promise come to pass. Abram and Sarai’s sin against God and their marriage didn’t make God change His mind about His promise, and the same goes for you.
When it’s hard to wait because you want to control the process and the outcome, it’s important to remember that His power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Controlling everything or even parts of your life can hinder His power to be made perfect in you. Your weakness, your submission, and your obedience are required for His power to flow through.
We must submit to God’s timeline and let go of the like the need to control our lives. Our prayer must be like Jesus’ when we are waiting on the Lord. Not my will, but yours be done. I love this quote from the Enduring Word Commentary for Genesis 16 which says:
When we impatiently try to fulfill God’s promises in our own effort, it accomplishes nothing and may even prolong the time until the promise is fulfilled. Jacob had to live as an exile for 25 years, because he thought he had to arrange the fulfillment of God’s promise to get his father’s blessing. Moses had to tend sheep for 40 years in the desert after he tried to arrange the fulfillment of God’s promise by murdering an Egyptian.Enduring Word Commentary, Genesis 16
Taking matters in your hands is an option, but it’s not the best option. TRUST GOD and don’t just believe in Him, believe HIM in your season of waiting. Pry open your tight-clenched fists and let Him clean the dirt from your hands so you can have room to take hold of what you’re waiting for.
When You Don’t See Any Growth
For still, the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.Habakkuk 2:3
It gets hard to wait is when we don’t see growth.
Apart from the need to control things, we sometimes try to squeeze something into existence. If you’ve followed my blog and received some of my newsletters, or know me personally, you’ll know that I really want to write a book. This desire started a long time ago, and the topic I want to write about is good and should be straightforward. But I tried to write it with a future perspective I didn’t have yet, and that was VERY difficult to come to terms with.
Everything has a season. Everything is made perfect and beautiful in God’s timing. When you aren’t seeing growth, it’s as if you’re trying to squeeze juice out of an orange, but there’s nothing left to squeeze. You crush and wring when instead you should pick up the seed that fell out, plant it, water it, and wait for God to grow it.
If I’m not mistaken, Abram waited some 25 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise to have a son. During these years, he did things that seemed out of line. One of the first was when he lied about Sarai being his wife, saying she’s his sister because he feared for his life. This was right after God promised him to be a fruitful man in the promised land! But what’s very important to note happened after. He went back to his first place of worship, the first altar he built immediately after God first made the promise to him. He realigned and recommitted himself to God’s promise.
Because we can’t speed up time or growth, or any process, we need to submit to God’s timeline instead of trying to push our own. Don’t focus so much on the end-result of your growth, go back to your last place of worship, and realign yourself to God’s Word. 2 Peter 3:9 reminds us that, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” The slow process could be the means to growing in Christ, mind renewal, and the shedding of your old self.
“If we seek to change our circumstances, we will jump from the frying pan into the fire. We must be triumphant exactly where we are. It is not a change of climate we need, but a change of heart. The flesh wants to run away, but God wants to demonstrate His power exactly where we have known our greatest chagrin.”Donald Barnhouse
When You Don’t Hear God’s Voice
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word, I hope.Psalm 130:5
And last, it gets hard to wait when you don’t hear God. And this is something we’ll experience throughout life continually. Not because you’re worse than another, or God forgot about you, or because you’re doing something wrong, but simply because God’s at work. He’s busy pruning and trimming and working. Just because you don’t hear God doesn’t mean He’s not doing anything. In fact, that’s when He’s doing the most work.
When things fall out of control and you have to shelf your timetable, and then you struggle to hear His voice, you can always know to do this to get more familiar with His voice — reading the word and being around the right people.
After Hagar got pregnant, ran away, and then returned to Abram and Sarai, there wasn’t a record of God speaking to Abram for 13 years. (My personal theory is that Abram was raising Ishmael, but that’s an opinion). When God reappears and restates His covenant promise, He commands Abram to walk before Him and be blameless, which also means whole.
God wanted ALL of Abram to walk wholly and holy before him. He wasn’t idle about Abram’s promise, but working behind the scenes for those 13 years. He even changed his name, too, to encourage Abraham’s faith. But during that wait, Abram didn’t hear God as far as we know. Things were really out of his control, his timeline, but he still remembered and meditated on what God promised him. He still looked back on the last thing God said. (Imagine not hearing from God for 13 years!).
Yet, God didn’t stay silent forever. He reminded Abraham of His promise again and again. And His Word is chock full of them! When you aren’t hearing His voice, just know it’s not for long. He will speak to you yet again.
You must stand strong and stay true to what you know. If it’s literally one verse, like John 3:16, let that be your anthem to carry you through. Let it be that you are more than a conqueror. If it’s that His thoughts are higher than your thoughts, stick to that. But DO NOT deviate from the truth just because you don’t hear His voice in your season of waiting. Stand firm in what you know. Stand tall in your identity in Him. And don’t let lies become louder than the truth.
- It’s hard to wait when we want control.
- It’s hard to wait when we don’t see growth.
- It’s hard to wait when we don’t hear God’s voice.
But it gets easier when you let go of that need to control. It gets easier when you understand God is the one who does the growing. And it’s easier when you spend time in the Word, familiarize yourself with His truth, and surround yourself with the right people to encourage and help you through the waiting seasons.
It sure is a process, but it’s worth it! Waiting on God never gets wasted because His plans are higher than ours 🙂