As I write this, my daughter is 39 weeks pregnant, awaiting the arrival of her first child. A son. I can’t wait to meet him. To see his face. To know his name!
I am expectant.
I wish I could say I felt the same way during every waiting season. To me, waiting usually conjures images of unmet longings and disappointing circumstances: The dating relationship that was supposed to lead to marriage but hasn’t. The job promotion that never materialized. The gap between homesick and happy in a new place. The toddler who won’t sleep through the night. The sickness—physical or emotional—that just won’t go away.
Waiting feels like it’s not so much about anticipation as it is endurance. And given that the word patience is derived from the Latin word for suffering, it comes as no surprise that when the Bible exhorts us to “wait for the Lord,” the very next words are,
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage.”
Be strong and take courage. Those words seem more suited to an epic adventure than to a long holding pattern; it’s like the psalmist knows that waiting on God will tap (and maybe even exhaust) our deepest fuel reserves.
And it can be easy in the face of delayed provision or unanswered prayers to grow weary and want to give up. Particularly when we’re asking God for something we know is good—the salvation of a loved one, reconciliation or forgiveness among family members, freedom from a crippling addiction—and it doesn’t look like the needle is moving. That can be confusing.
Frustrating. Faith-shaking, even.
Maybe God has some secret reason for withholding an answer, we think to ourselves, and the most pious thing we could do would be to just quit. To stop praying. To pack up our trust and go home.
But let’s don’t.
Instead, let’s take the long view, believing Jesus when he says that his Father is always at work, even when we can’t see what he’s doing. (John 5:17) And as we wait on God’s answer or his provision, I can think of at least four things that might help.
What Happens While We Wait
First, consider what might be happening while we wait. God could be teaching us perseverance—the trait that makes us mature and complete. (James 1:3-4 NIV) He might be testing and purifying our faith—not for his benefit, but to prove to us that what we have is both strong and real. (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV) Or he might be giving us an opportunity to hone our request so that our desire lines up with his (better) plan. (Matthew 26:42)
We don’t know what God might be doing, but even the waiting season itself can make the eventual answer extra sweet. How much more grateful are we for a blessing that arrives after a long prayer battle than we are for the one that just shows up on our doorstep as if delivered by Amazon Prime?
God’s Faithfulness While We Wait
Second, reflect on the ways God’s faithfulness has already presented itself. Taking time to consider God’s past provision equips us to be strong and take heart for the future. If you don’t already make a practice of thanking God for what he has done, grab a journal (a spiral notebook will do) and start keeping a record. Aim for just two or three notes every day and build your collection—your “faithfulness altar”—from there.
Spend Time in God’s Word
Third, make time to meet God in his Word. Spend time reading the Bible, allowing it to shape your perspective. The more we fill our minds with Scripture, the more our thoughts and desires begin to line up with what God wants to do. What he already is doing.
Pray in the Waiting
And finally, pray. God longs to show us his goodness and draw us into deeper communion with him. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you wait well. Ask him to open your eyes to the purposes God may want to accomplish. And ask him to equip you to trust God’s timing, knowing that he is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)
Lamentations 3: 25 says,
“The Lord is good to those who wait for him.”
Let’s be expectant.