Are you in the midst of waiting on something, someone? Have you petitioned God for a specific need, and not yet received an answer? Maybe it has been days, months, or even years.
If so, you’re in good company. Most of us are waiting for some specific answers to prayer – for a family member to know Christ, for a friend to be healed, for a child’s heart to change, for our own hearts to change, for direction, for clarity. I know we are not alone as we wait on our own answers for what God has in store for our family.
What I have found difficult is the question of what to do in the waiting. Does trusting God mean doing nothing? I don’t believe so. Perhaps even more so in seasons like this, there are definite things I have realized I need to be doing in order to wait in peace and with faithfulness. These are a few small actions I have found helpful in our limbo season:
1. Pray for my posture
Yes, we have covered the specific item we are needing in prayer, we have had many others praying with us, and we keep praying for resolution. But to pray for my own heart, for the peace of God to settle in my heart, for my mind to be fixed on Christ and not on my situation – I have needed to be careful not to neglect these aspects of prayer. That in my season of waiting, my heart and mind are correctly lifted toward God, that my posture is worshipful.
One of my favorites promises is found in Isaiah 26, “you keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” [v. 3]. It seems like every day there are many distractions that pull my mind away from Christ, that demand my focus. When I find myself particularly anxious about my situation, it is usually because I have not been fixing my mind on Christ. Especially in this season, I have needed to cling to God in prayer, to keep my mind stayed on him.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.Isaiah 26:3
2. Reflect on the character of God
How has God taken care of our needs in the past? How has he strengthened us through different seasons of difficulty, of waiting? Reflecting on how he has cared for us personally, and on his unchanging character, will strengthen us in our current seasons.
I don’t know about you, but in a waiting season like this, I realize my own weaknesses and limits in new ways. Jen Wilkin touches on what it means to be image-bearing children of God, “it means reflecting as a limited being the perfections of a limitless God. Our limits teach us the fear of the Lord. They are reminders that keep us from falsely believing that we can be like God. When I reach the limit of my strength, I worship the One whose strength never flags. When I reach the limit of my reason, I worship the One whose reason is beyond searching out.” [None Like Him -I recommend this whole book if you’re looking to reflect on God’s character].
When we see our own limitations more clearly, it ought to prompt us to worship God for his completely sufficient and unchanging character. While everything around us may be changing, he never will.
Fixing our gaze on his character, rather than our situation, is worshipful.
Years ago, while walking through a dark season with a friend, I remember hearing JJ Heller’s song Who You Are where she sings, “sometimes I don’t know, I don’t know what you’re doing, but I know who you are.” What beautiful hope! We often don’t know the plans of God, or what he is doing in our life or the lives of others, but thankfully we can know who he is. Fixing our gaze on his character, rather than our situation, is worshipful.
3. Lament with hope
There can be this sense in our Christian communities that discouragement is not allowed; that it is unspiritual to be downcast. That one who is trusting in God never wavers. Thankfully, a good portion of the book of Psalms teaches us just what godly lament looks like. Over and over, David and other psalm writers cry out to God in their discouragement, in their distress, asking for his deliverance, for him to come through for them again… and they wait.
Multiple times between Psalm 42 and 43 the writer cries, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” [Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5]. David writes in Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Friends, we can cry out to our God, who is full of compassion toward his children, who knows of our pain, of our discouragement, and who offers comfort in the midst of it.
In our lament, we cling to hope. We are not ones to cry out to God with forsaken hearts, but with expectant ones, looking in hope for what God will do for us. David continues in Psalm 40:2-3, “he drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” We have good reason to wait with great hope.
4. Cling to the promises of God
Several weeks ago, our pastor preached on the book of Joshua, and encouraged us that God is faithful to keep his promises. In fact, Joshua 21:45 says, “not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” What an encouragement! What a faithful God we serve!
This prompted me anew to make a list of “the good promises that the Lord had made” to me. How can I cling to them if I don’t even know what they are? Years ago, I had memorized quite a few, but this season called for new reflection. Here are a few that I have been clinging to lately:
+ God’s sufficient grace: “”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” [2 Cor. 12:9]
+ God’s never-ceasing love and mercy: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” [Lam. 3:22-23]
+ God’s guidance and protection: “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” [Is. 58:11]
“For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God – his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” [Psalm 18:28-30]
I would challenge you to spend time in God’s word, reflecting on what he has promised, and make a list for yourself. Cling to these good promises of God!
At some point, this particular season of waiting will likely end, and we look forward to that time. While we are still waiting, though, I am thankful for the opportunities to turn my gaze again and again to Christ, to be more deeply sanctified, and to learn anew what it is to trust him.
originally published on Dec. 3, 2019