Have you ever felt an assurance that He would bring a certain blessing into your life, but all you’ve gotten so far is silence? One of the toughest seasons we can walk through as Christians is the “in between” one. You know, that tunne- like stretch after past events and before what we’re wishing would come.
I know from lots of personal experience, how long and drab those times of waiting can feel.
But while waiting is never something we feel excited about, it also doesn’t need to be seen as an empty time where nothing is happening. We don’t have to, nor should we, see it as a time where God isn’t bringing good things – amazing things even – into our lives. On the contrary, the season of waiting holds all sorts of blessings, if we will just open our eyes to see them.
Here are five things you earn from waiting that you don’t expect:
When we don’t immediately get what we want, we have the chance to either remain in a state of agitation or eventually give in to what God wants. Few things refine our character like this exercise of surrender. Yet this is not a hopeless, wave of the white flag kind of surrender.
Instead, it opens us to be changed by Him.
God wants us to continue trusting His goodness while we let go. He invites us to keep believing in Him to work – even if in His way – and to bring what He promised. This kind of belief in spite of what we see and how we feel, this picking ourselves up every time we fall into hopelessness, is the definition of perseverance.
Scripture says that perseverance is what produces character (Romans 5:4). It goes on to say that character is a blessing because it “produces hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” When our nature within is molded to be more like Jesus, we feel able and inclined to have hope in God’s work. This includes having hope in what God is doing now and what He is going to do. This hope is the comforting balm that refreshes us along the way. It makes our faith rooted and strong. It encourages us to keep going.
Being grateful may be the farthest thing we feel like being while we wait on God. But it is a prime place for that appreciation to spring, if we are open to it. Think of the people who get what they want right away. Are they thankful? When they initially receive the gift they might be, but it’s too easy for even wonderful things to fade into the ordinary; and then we find ourselves wanting more. And more.
Some of the most grateful people are those that don’t have much. Everything stands out to them as a blessing; especially if they ever lacked something we consider basic.
Consider running water, the air conditioning, a warm place to sleep and quiet places in nature to walk. And what about a loving friend or family member? These things only scratch the surface of what we’ve been given.
In moments of quiet, in between those “big things” in life, we have the chance to wake up to the awesome gifts we already have. We are not distracted by the noise of new things and made to feel like we always need something different.
Gratitude pleases God, develops our character, and makes the waiting time feel a lot less manageable.
Intimacy with God
When we’re waiting for a new job, our healing, or a spouse, we have the chance to become closer to God than we ever have been. Many people will miss this opportunity by chasing down another relationship or busying themselves with various activities, but if we use that feeling of dullness to press us into God instead, we will find something beautiful there.
Saint Augustine said, “You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” Truth be told, nothing that you’re waiting for will bring complete peace to your heart. You may feel that it will, but any total satisfaction it brings will be actually partial and temporary. We were made primarily to lean on God. Something inside us can be only be satisfied fully by His presence.
The waiting time is an invitation from God to remember and truly seek the home of our hearts. Those of us who are single for example, can use this time to talk to Him, share with Him, and commune with Him in a way we may not get to later.
If we’re willing, we can come out of this season with a greater experience of God as our best friend. We can know more closely and enjoy more fully the One who knows us better than anyone ever will, and loves us more fully than we could dare hope.
Scripture says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not yet seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). It also says that faith is “more costly than gold.” Faith lifts us up into our beautiful future before it has become manifest. It draws us closer to God, as we cling to believing in His goodness. And it pleases Him more than anything else we can offer.
We may underestimate the importance of faith versus getting what we want, but it’s that one key to deep relationship with God. It’s that thing we will use to encourage others as they wait. And if we learn it now, we will use it to comfort ourselves through life circumstances that later come.
We cannot grow our faith if we immediately get everything we want. We have no opportunity to even have faith (let alone grow it) if do no waiting. Only when we wait – only when we keep picking ourselves up and believing – do we get to experience the beauty of hope and the empowerment of our spiritual muscles.
Greater Joy in the Future
No person can appreciate a gift more than the one who has waited for it. There is a level of gratitude that touches the soul for those who have diligently waited for a promise to be fulfilled. That person will be far more thankful and joyful than the person who had gotten that thing right when they asked for it. Waiting is multiplying the happiness that you will have in the future.
Waiting also prepares us so that what we get can be enjoyed completely. Sometimes what we are waiting for is so big, that if we got it now it would overwhelm our ability to maintain it. We may not yet be ready because of a current life event that would bring it down, an emotional issue we need to get past, or any number of circumstances that could temper the joy. God doesn’t want us bringing that thing into His gift for us and affecting it negatively. Once we get to a new place, however, we will be able to handle what He brings us and enjoy it to its fullest.
Waiting is not something that any person finds easy because it goes against our natural desires. But it is actually an opportunity. It’s the soil that grows us, deepens our appreciation, and causes us to feel closer to God. The silent process itself is growing us in ways we can’t fully grasp.
The key is being willing to look for the good He brings us today. We ought to move our preoccupation from frustration over what’s not here, to what IS here and happening today; as we ask for God’s help to do that.
If we dare to thank Him for our current blessings and His current work – even when we can’t yet see it all – we will be open to every good thing He can do today. And then this waiting season will be a truly beautiful one.
At the same time, we can continue to remember His faithful words: “Do not throw away your confidence for it will be richly rewarded…when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised.”