Remember when you were little and all you wanted was to get older?
Maybe you couldn’t wait to drive. Or go to college. Or vote. Or get your first “real” job. Or get married.
When I was little I couldn’t wait to turn thirteen. It wasn’t until I turned thirteen that I would be allowed to get my ears pierced. For years I anticipated that day–I waited on it like it was going to be the greatest day of my life.
I was not patient, either. I begged my parents to allow me to get my ears pierced long before my thirteenth birthday. I pleaded. I offered to do extra chores or never do anything wrong again for the rest of my life (that was a mighty offer when I was ten). I. could. not. wait.
My ears were pierced on my thirteenth birthday, just as my parents had promised, and I was overjoyed. I also immediately found a new “something” to have to wait on. Life is a series of waiting games.
My seasons of waiting are now centered around more serious issues, and the periods of waiting are much, much longer and seem more difficult to manage.
We wait on things daily. We buck against the system of waiting, whether it be in a doctor’s office, at an airport, or even receiving a piece of snail-mail.
In our society of instant gratification, we’ve become accustomed to getting what we want with speed. We shave time off of waiting in every possible way we can find.
But there are some seasons in our life where shortening our waiting time is impossible. The season of waiting is, in itself, out of our control.
Have you faced a season of waiting? I certainly have.
I’m waiting now. Some things I’m waiting for seem trivial while others are life-changing.
I’m waiting for this baby weight to come off.
I’m waiting for my first publishing contract.
I’m waiting for God to answer several prayers about very important life issues.
My husband has recently gone through a season of waiting–one that has been really trying.
The most difficult season of waiting that I’ve ever experienced was certainly when I went through my struggles with infertility. There is nothing–and I mean nothing— that is as difficult as having ZERO control over a situation and it’s outcome.
But this isn’t a post about control.
So what should we do in a season of waiting? Pray for more patience? You know what they say about praying for patience…
Seasons of waiting can be made more bearable when we change our focus.
1. Forget about passive patience and focus on active perseverance.
We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. And hope will never let us down. Romans 5: 3-4 (NIrV)
“…the strength to go on.” In a season of waiting, the best thing we can do is keep moving. Instead of sitting around, putting our lives on hold until we receive the answers we seek, we must forge ahead and live, enjoying each precious day as it comes. Seeking the joy that comes in the little moments of each day will encourage hope. So keep going, friends. Instead of putting your life on hold, get out there and do. You won’t regret the memories, relationships, and experiences you’ll have while you wait.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10:36
2. Focus on the lesson. Seasons of waiting don’t come upon us simply to teach us patience alone. 99.9% of the time there is another lesson imbedded in the wait– we must identify it and learn from it. As our bodies grow and change over time, so must our hearts.
I have no doubt that my seasons of infertility and all the trials and anguish that came with them were meant to teach me about control. (Mostly that I have none.) The soul-searching that I did, seeking answers as to why I couldn’t get pregnant and when God might answer my prayers about adding to our family, led me to the blinding realization that although I was a follower of Jesus Christ, I had never truly given him complete control over my life. I’m a different person now than I was just five short years ago– like the potter molding the clay, he changed me through that season of waiting. I thank God for it now.
3. Thank God for this season. That’s right, I said it. Be thankful. I’m sure you are stressed. I’m sure you’re exhausted. I’m sure you’re frustrated and annoyed and tired and maybe even ready to give up. You should also be thankful. A thankful heart is a happy heart (sorry to quote the Veggie Tales here, but it’s appropriate) and a happy heart is an open heart. An open heart is one ready to receive the blessings of the Lord however they may come.
4. Put the focus on helping others. When time moves like a John Deere tractor on a freeway, the best way to survive is to focus our energies on helping others. Something happens when put our effort into doing for others. Not only are we active, but our emotions are no longer solely trained on our own problems. Helping others not only passes the time, it lifts our spirits and develops an attitude of outward concern instead of inward frustration.
5. Focus on praying. Make your prayer life not only about whatever issue has caused your season of waiting, but about how you can pray for others. The same with doing things for others, pray for others. Develop an attitude of seeking God’s response in your prayer life, not just listing all the issues you might have. Pray not for patience, but for perseverance and strength of character (Romans 5:3-4). Pray not just for an answer, but for what lessons you can learn during your season of waiting.
6. Focus on the promise. The promise is that no matter what your issue or how long your season of waiting, God will answer (Hebrews 10:36). Whether or not you receive the answer you seek is up to Him, but he will respond. Until then, you need to prepare.
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
When we give ourselves over to the Lord, completely focusing on Him, when we seek him with our whole hearts and yearn to understand his word, our will conforms to his will— he will give us the desires of our hearts because our hearts will seek only him. It’s an amazing, beautiful thing.
7. Focus on preparation. Be mentally prepared– get in The Word. Seek God’s truth and his answers. The Bible is the only book that’s got everything we’ll ever need.
Be physically prepared– exercise is good for you, not just because of what it does for your body, but what it does for your mind and spirit. I’m sure you’ve heard that exercise releases endorphins, and those endorphins will help you feel better. Exercise has tons of benefits, and taking care of our bodies honors the gift of life God gave us.
Be emotionally prepared– God has three answers to our prayers– yes, no, and maybe (or in this case, keep waiting). No matter what answer we get, when we do the things listed above, focusing our attentions on things other than our own season of waiting, we can prepare our minds and hearts to receive his answer.
Waiting is difficult. Waiting can destroy our faith, if we allow it. But shifting our focus during that season of waiting can change us into the person God wants us to be– which might be the reason for the whole season of waiting to begin with.
Share with me: What truths did God reveal to you during a season of waiting?
Love this song from John Waller– sums up waiting perfectly. (Video from the movie Fireproof.)
12 responses to “How To Survive a Season of Waiting”
Great insight here today, Jenny! Truly important during those waiting seasons. We all find ourselves in them in various stages of life so this is uber (see two dots above the u) practical!
Thanks, Wendy! I know so many people who seem to be waiting right now. I just wanted to remind them (and doubly remind myself) of some of the lessons waiting has taught me!
This is such an awesome post, Jenny. Waiting is not really my strong suit…which is possibly why God seems to give me lessons in waiting so often. But usually right when I’m at my most pity-party-ish about whatever I’m waiting on, I hear my Mom’s voice in my head: “Melissa, patience is not just about waiting. It’s about waiting with a good attitude.” And that attitude is a choice, isn’t it? I love your tips for making that waiting season a time of growth!
Thanks, Mel! I love what your mom said about waiting with a good attitude. That makes all the difference.
I like how you pointed out that waiting can destroy your faith. It truly can, and I’ve felt like I’m teetering on the brink sometimes. Ann Voskamp’s book came to me just in the right season. Every time I feel myself slipping that way, I remember to be thankful for things THAT VERY DAY. I keep a list and just keep focusing on that, as an act of trust that God is good and working for our good. And I have to keep reminding myself that sometimes there is NOTHING I can do to make things work any faster. It’s in His hands anyway!
I think being grateful is the key to being content. It’s so easy to be grateful when we realize what a gift we’ve been given just to be on this earth! And you’re right– it’s in HIS hands! 🙂
Thanks for the reminder. Trying to find the joy in the waiting has been a struggle. Enduring the wait has been my attitude for far too long, I am beginning to wait and enjoy this time too!
Finding the joy can be sooooooo hard– I know from experience! But I know that if you are looking for it, you will find something amazing.
I’ve really been struggling with the waiting lately, and I appreciate the insight you have. I will definitely be bookmarking this post and coming back to it frequently.
I’m so glad! That’s exactly why I wrote it– for all those, including myself, going through difficult times of waiting.
Really great post!
I’m waiting for The Man to heal me of my physical affliction…and in the meantime I just keep going, as if it’ll happen tomorrow. That it’s God’s tomorrow, and not mine…that’s okay.
And I am making plans that reach out into the future of health that I hope to receive. My wife has suggested that I build a hydroplane while I’m waiting…one of those insanely fast flat-bottomed boats that spoil the pristine silence of lakes and rivers, and routinely put their drivers into the ER.
Sounds like fun. (Or, perhaps, a good way to accelerate the meeting with Jesus.)
Point being is to make concrete plans for the next season, to make it live in my heart.
I love that idea, Andrew. (And you made me laugh about meeting Jesus quicker…) Claiming the promise that He will answer is the key! And you’ve already got the right attitude about being on His timetable. I’m praying for you!