MOST OF US HATE TO WAIT. WE CAN ACCESS TECHNOLOGY TO AVOID WAITING; WE CAN ORDER OUR JEANS ONLINE to avoid the agony of long lines; we can ask Google our questions instead of waiting for an answer from a person; we can even hop on the internet to schedule dinner reservations to skip waiting for a seat at our favorite restaurant.
We sometimes think of wait as a four-letter word. And it is, of course, but “wait” is not a cuss word. We must wait in a doctor’s office or for test results … and that makes us feel out of control. And we are. But what if our attitude was adjusted to focus on how we wait?
The apostle Paul understood how to wait. Imprisoned numerous times throughout his ministry for preaching the gospel, he spent years waiting behind prison bars. Remarkably, Paul’s physical restrictions did not stop the momentum of the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact, the spread of the gospel message was actually enhanced.
The most notable imprisonment is found in Acts 16, when Paul freed a female slave of a spirit who predicted the future, putting her owners out of business. Paul and Silas, stripped, beaten and flogged, were thrown into prison and locked into stocks. But they chose to pray and sing praise to God. Paul could have spent the wait-time pining, complaining, wishing and wasting his opportunity; instead, Paul showed us how to invite God into his waiting room.
Did you know that 80 percent of our problems stem from how we feel about ourselves? We might not be locked up in a jail, but may find ourselves waiting on something or someone that seems like an irritating and impenetrable imprisonment.
I’ve learned, in a few of the circumstances I’ve moved through, that how I wait makes a difference in the process. In my time of recovery from drug addiction, healing from stage four cancer and processing the sudden accidental death of my first husband, it helped to invite God into my “waiting room.”
Sometimes it seemed God hadn’t heard my prayer nor did he even care. It was a sad day when I understood something was missing. I had experienced intimacy, closeness and peace, but now my relationship with God seemed distant, prickly and awkward. I learned to do these three things:
1. Stop. It was time once again for me to stop and pay attention to my emotions. It was essential for me to spend time alone with God and explain my feelings to him, not just aloud, but by writing them down in my journal. By doing this, I let God know I was choosing to submit to his plan. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19).
2. Confess. I told God about my fear, procrastination and pride. I explained to him I didn’t think I was worthy of the blessings he wanted to give to me. I compared myself to other women, and those old doubts of insecurity crept in again,
overshadowing everything God had shown me in the past. I had to come against and reject condemning, shaming, and blaming thoughts; by reviewing his promises.
I could dig down deep into what is true. The condemning thoughts were not from him.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).
3. Believe. By faith, I reaffirmed my understanding that God was working behind the scenes and that no matter how long the wait or what I sensed was ahead, God’s sovereignty was at work. I renewed my faith in God’s providence and kept studying God’s word, which brought peace and hope.
“You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you” (Isaiah 48:6). God asked me to wait on him and his timing.
In a time of recovery, you can be sure you will spend time in God’s waiting room. God has our best in mind. It’s really difficult to be still, to trust and to wait; that’s why the waiting process must happen with God sitting near us in our waiting room.
In Psalm 46:10, He says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
It’s in the time we stop and allow God to be God that you and I are comforted by the Holy Spirit, confident that he is working directly by our side.
As we choose to work through our doubts, letting our revived faith push through, we can expect God to bring us even closer to him as we move forward into our destiny.