How to Cope with Waiting Seasons
We discussed in a previous post (The Exercise of Waiting – Part 1) that waiting is not my strong-suit. Patience is not a virtue I’m known for, and “long-suffering” seems an apt description for any short- or long-term waiting activity as far as I’m concerned. However, for the past several weeks the Holy Spirit has been convicting me that this is an area of my life I need to “exercise” more to build up my “wait muscles”.
We talked earlier about things we can do “productively” during those daily wait times (i.e., praying for others, praising God, counting our blessing, etc.) But what do we do during those longer waiting periods? The time-period when we have laid our request(s) before God and He has yet to answer (or perhaps He has answered but just not in the way we were expecting).
Admittedly, although I’m fast approaching senior citizen status, I have adapted to today’s microwave society well. Wasting time seems fruitless (unless, of course, I’m procrastinating on something I personally need to do.) I tend to lean toward the opinion of arriving “on time” (not early or late) for events with the expectation that this should alleviate the waiting period and allow me to move directly into the activity I’m there for. This does not allow for the other party or event to be running behind, traffic to be at a standstill, car trouble, etc. It also does not consider that there are other people who had the same idea I did so we all end up crowding together at the last minute, creating mass chaos that lasts for quite a while as we find our places, perform the activities we might be required to do, or make emergency “pit stops” that might be needed along the way!
Throughout our lives, we will be faced with long-term waiting “seasons.” The nine months of pregnancy. Years of school. Treatment for illness or diseases, both short-term and long-term. Getting into healthy, physical shape and losing weight. Buying, selling, and moving into a new home. Finding a job. These are just a few examples of seasons we must wait through.
The important thing to remember is that God is with us throughout these seasons of waiting. We may think this is an inactive time, but God is working behind the scenes to work everything out according to His will. We must keep in mind that His time is not our time, and just because we want something doesn’t mean it is the same thing God wants for us. We must hang on to the realization that He is the omnipotent God. He knows all and sees all. He knows the future, so what we may think may be “just the thing” for us, He knows something better for us is down the road. We must trust that He will provide for what we need, when we need it.
At present, I’m going through several seasons of waiting at the same time. My husband had a severe knee injury several weeks ago which will require a six to eight-month recovery period. Although the first month is over, we still have several months of crutches, therapy, and restrictive activities left. In addition, both of our adult children and their spouses are undergoing major adjustments in their own lives: job changes, relocating (selling, buying, and moving to new homes) and faith struggles as they cope with life situations. Although I know they belong to God first, their struggles feel like my struggles so their “wait periods” are my “wait periods.” There are several people around me who are also working through seasons of waiting. Friends who are care-giving for elderly parents, watching their health decline almost daily as they get older; friends who are waiting for their children to either enter or graduate college bringing major changes to the dynamics of their family situation; friends who have recently lost loved ones and are working their way through the grief process. I feel, at times, as if my life is surrounded by waiting periods. You probably feel that way as well.
So how do we productively work through these seasons of waiting? The Holy Spirit has convicted me using the following verse from Psalms.
How is God to be honored? By every person “being still” before Him, coming to know Him. Every person in every nation throughout the world. But to honor Him, it needs to start with me. I need to “be still.” I need to “know” that He is God. I need to trust that He has it all under control.
As I’ve mentioned before, being still is not something I do well. I truly believe in doing two things at once. While watching T.V., I also have a book, i-pad, or i-phone handy to read, scroll through social media, or play games. When sewing, cutting the grass, exercising, or driving, I have my earbuds in and an audiobook on simultaneously. When I do my prayer time, I have pen in hand, journaling my prayers and thoughts as they come to me. “Being still” and doing nothing else seems unproductive to me.
Yet we are told that to honor God we must be still before Him so that we can know Him. This, then, is what we must do during our waiting seasons. We must not distance ourselves from God while we wait. We must realize that it is not that He is not hearing our prayer, or not answering us during that time. He is working behind the scenes for what is best for us. Just because we don’t see what He is doing, doesn’t mean He is not doing something. Therefore, it is important to stay “in tune” to Him.
It is also during this time that we must be very careful not to jump ahead of Him. As hard as it is to wait, doing the wrong thing can cause the wait to become longer and the answer or result to become more convoluted by our own interference. So, another reason, we should “be still” before Him, is to give Him the opportunity to lead us in the direction we should go.
During our seasons of waiting, we must wait expectantly, knowing that God is with us during these times. We must “exercise” our wait muscles to strengthen them and grow in our knowledge of just who God is, how He loves us, and how He will provide for us.
My prayers are with you, friend, during your season of waiting as we work together to align ourselves with His will, His good, perfect, and awesome will!
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.