“The Waiting Is The Hardest Part”
August 15, 2014
Jennifer Hagler Photography
By Laura DiFatta
The waiting is the hardest part.
We’ve all been there: intently watching our favorite dramatic television show, caught up in the storyline when suddenly, it’s over! We’ve yelled at the television, “How can they leave me hanging like this?!” We’ve thought, “I can’t believe I have to wait a whole week or–worse yet–the next season, to see how it works out!”
Similarly, in real life, we each have unresolved story lines that have us in limbo. We may be waiting on healing, resolution, relationship, job, purpose, restoration, direction, guidance…any number of things. But we are waiting. However our circumstances came to be, waiting is typically very challenging and there are many moving parts. And, unlike the writers of a TV show script, we cannot script the outcome. We simply do not know what the resolution will be.
My first real time of waiting was in college. I had a very difficult semester in several ways that was compounded by a sense of profound loneliness. It was during that time that God began to get my attention and show me very personally Who He Is. In reading the Bible for guidance, I came upon a verse that became like a life-line to me. It is Psalm 27: 13-14 and it reads, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” And so I did. I made a choice to wait on the Lord. As hard as it was, I chose to take baby steps in taking Him at His Word and trusting Him to bring good. I went back to that verse every day and prayed it and reminded myself of the Truth it held. Through that, the Lord gave me an understanding that He has reinforced over and over in my life: that although I may not see the ways He is working right now, He can be trusted, that He does hear me and that He is moving with compassion and strength and wisdom on my behalf.
“Mom!! Mooooom!!” I heard Trent yelling from the back yard. He had ventured out—at first quite bravely—to his playhouse fort in our backyard to watch a backhoe work on the property next door. But his bravery had melted away and he needed reassurance. I yelled back with him in my sights, “I’m right here! I see you!” He yelled back, “but, I need to see you, mom!”
We feel the same way, don’t we? In our times of waiting, our hearts cry out to God, “I need to see you, God!” Well, take heart. God’s people throughout the ages, have felt that exact same way. God is not put off or surprised by our need for reassurance and provision any more than I was put off by Trent’s desire to see me, to be reassured of my presence. In fact, God’s Word tells us, He is moved to compassion over us and he is near to those who seek Him.
What good can come from the waiting? Well, I could write for a long time on this, but I have chosen a couple of points that I hope will encourage you:
God longs for us to hear His voice and know Him. This process of getting to know Him is often accomplished through 1) experience, 2) reinforcement and 3) eassurance, on a journey in which our attention is on Him. That takes time.
There is a beautiful illustration of this in the Bible found in 1 Kings 19. In this story, we find a prophet of God, Elijah, running for his life from an evil king and queen (you may have heard the name Jezebel— not exactly a top ten name for girls and there are reasons for that!) Background: Elijah was speaking for God in the midst of an evil and oppressive regime during a time that it was deadly to be out-spoken for God. It was a dark time in the history of God’s people. But, God had continued to show His power to the people, most recently through Elijah in absolutely amazing and supernatural ways! Elijah had personally witnessed and seen God’s miraculous power. But, Elijah had still not experienced the end of all the pain. So, back to the story at hand: Elijah was running for his life in the desert wilderness and became so tired and discouraged that he wanted to die. Literally, he laid down and asked God to take his life. I’d say, he was pretty much done. Done, done, done. Then…the Lord strengthened him.
What happens next is profound. Picture it with me: The Lord asked Elijah to tell his side of things. God listens (take note—God listens) to Elijah recount his good deeds and how hard it’s been because of the abhorrent evil being done by all the people and the leaders and he goes on to tell God what good has it done? “Now they are trying to kill me, too.” God then does something unexpected: He tells Elijah to go and stand on the mountain He, the Lord, was about to pass by. That is what I call an awesome invitation!! So Elijah did it! He went into a cave on the mountain to wait. As he waited, there came a mighty wind that tore the mountain and shattered the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then there came an earthquake, and then a fire, but the Lord’s presence was not in those, either. After the fire came a gentle whisper… Elijah came forward out of the cave in response to the voice of the Lord that came in—of all things—a gentle whisper.
Sweet friend, God needs us to tune our listening to the sound of His voice. That takes time and it takes our attention. And many times, it takes us being—like Elijah—at the end of our own resources. That is when we are really attuned to Him.
We tend to like low-hanging fruit. We like quick and easy answers. That one reason why Google is so popular: all those resources at the tips of our fingers! But, you’ve likely come to a circumstance and a situation that google cannot give an answer for. I encourage you to turn your face and your attention to God, for as long as it takes. Take Him your fears, your messy, your doubts, your weakness, your struggles, your praises, your tears. Just turn to Him, over and over. Then with expectation—like the farmer looking to the horizon for a much-needed rain cloud—watch for Him.
Sometimes my children wear me out over asking me for something they want now, but I have told them they have to wait for…They are in my face, in my personal space, one sometimes still climbs into my lap and puts his hands on my face to make sure I have his full attention. Did you know that we are encouraged to go to God like that?! King David, for one example, gives much evidence to the idea that you can go to Him like that with your full honesty and your doubts. You have God’s full attention and He wants yours.
I have friends who are waiting on resolution in very difficult circumstances at this very minute. What I am seeing and hearing from them is an outpouring of what they are doing: they are looking to the Lord, they are reading His Hope-filled Word, they are actively putting their faith in their personal Savior— Jesus— Who heals, saves, comforts, provides, helps, gives refuge to, sustains and more. They are looking to Him, seeking His Plan and seeking to have and live out a godly perspective. In their waiting they are expressing need, yes, but so much more: they are expressing faith— they are sharing God’s Word that is providing them strength, peace and comfort — with others. And their own faith is growing through their dependence on God. I know because they are my friends, but I also know because I have walked a similar path.
One night, as I endured a very difficult time of waiting, I just laid in my bed in the dark and cried. My tears flowed in a steady stream. I didn’t want my sweet husband to know I was crying, because he was hurting too and I wanted to spare him that moment of concern about me. As I lay there, I heard a song playing very softly. We don’t go to sleep listening to music, so the fact that the iPod was playing at that time, was unusual. You may or may not believe me, but I know that my very personal Lord had sent these words to me in that moment:
“There comes a time, a time in everyone’s life
Where nothing seems to go your way,
Where nothing seems to turn out right.
There may come a time, you just can’t seem to find our place.
For every door you open, seems like you get two slammed in your face
That’s when you need someone, someone that you can call.
And when all your faith is gone
Feels like you can’t go on
Let it be me.
Let it be me.
If it’s a friend that you need
Let it be me
Let it be me…”
I knew. I knew and my tears changed from sorrow to gratitude. I knew He was with me.
The Lord is with you, dear one. He is. Please keep turning your face to Him. I urge you to take time to be with Him in stillness, to take the beautiful provision of His Word and fill yourself with it. Oh, I just wish I could infuse into every single person who does not know, with the truth of how beautiful and encouraging His Word is!
And pray, often and honestly. You do not have to be a fancy-word pray-er. He wants your heart not your pretense.
This waiting time is not passive. On the contrary, it is a time of active growth. You have an active part in what kind of growth. God desires to grow your relationship with Him, to grow your faith in Him, to refine your perspective and to deepen your wisdom. He desires through this time for you to become more attuned to His voice. He alone can bring beauty from ashes, strength from despair, life from death, order from chaos, hope from desperation!
Will you choose to use this waiting time to let Him fill you up? In doing so, you will find, like I did, that When the Lord raises you up again, you will be strong, firm and steadfast because He has done it. And you will rejoice!
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
“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 40:31
Lyrics to “Let It Be Me” by Ray Lamontagne
Title to today’s blog a shout-out to Tom Petty