Once, when our niece was 3 years old, she and her parents came to visit us at home. Her dad and my husband was engrossed in conversation at the dining table when she came up to her dad to ask something. She kept tapping his arm, until he said, “Maxine, just wait.” She then proceeded to the living room and began pacing around with big steps, reciting repeatedly as she did:
Waiting is important. Patience is important.
We all erupted in laughter when we heard her, but really, I was struck with awe.
I had never witnessed a child, or even an adult for that matter, responding and behaving that way. I knew that I myself couldn’t be counted to remind myself that waiting, and patience, were important!
I thank God because in contrast to myself, He is so patient, and is willing to wait as my transformation towards Christ-likeness takes so very long. And I thank God that through His word, He has been teaching me and molding my character particularly in the area of waiting.
Here are passages that have taught me key principles on the value of waiting through my life’s periods in the desert:
1. I have an unimaginably big God, who can give me supernatural strength as I wait upon Him.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
– Isaiah 40:28-31
I remember writing this passage on a sticky note and posting it on my refrigerator door during a very difficult time of waiting. It had been a time of testing for our marriage, and I had no idea how our crisis could be resolved. Every morning I would wake up, and even before opening my eyes I would tell myself, “I can do this. I can do this.” Then the Lord led me to Isaiah 40 and taught me to depend upon Him fully for the strength to carry on and to hope. I was waiting on no less than my God, the God of the universe, who knew no limits and who could hold me up regardless of what my circumstances were. This truth, when it sank in, gave me such peace, confidence, and yes, strength to persist in waiting!
2. Even as I wait, I can already look forward to how the Lord will move in my situation and turn my waiting into a testimony of His power and goodness.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Still during this same desert experience, I read and received these words, though stated in the past tense, as if they were a promise to me. I held on to this passage as it became clear to me, that because I belonged to Jesus, and my life was in His hand, I needed only to wait patiently to see, in His perfect time, how He could lift me out of the pit I was in. I did not know how it would happen and what the outcome of my situation would be, and I did not know how long it would take for His will to unfold, but I knew it would happen: By His grace I would have a new song in my mouth, and many will know my story and put their trust in Him.
3. Whether or not I get what I am waiting for, I have God, and He is more than enough.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
This is perhaps the most foundational principle that God has taught me, and is continuing to teach me, through all the ups and downs and the periods of waiting in my life. He Himself, and not any circumstance or provision, is my one source of wholeness, complete satisfaction and absolute joy.
That difficult chapter of my life did pass, and God did draw me “out of the miry bog” and did allow my experiences to encourage others and point them to Him. This time I am in another period of waiting, with my husband: for his healing from multiple ailments and for us to have a child, just to name a couple of things. The above passages remain true; they have in fact been proven and tested now in our very lives, and so we hold on to them — no, we hold on to the Lord — with even deeper trust.
Are you right now in the middle of waiting for that breakthrough, that miracle, that twist to change your situation? Are you growing impatient, weary and in despair? Meditate God’s word, see Him for who He is — your ultimate blessing, so much bigger than you can even think of, able to give you so much more than you can even imagine, and possessing the power to turn your wailing into praise — and know that you can draw infinite strength and hope from Him!