A Christian Approach to Waiting (Part 3)

Waiting can be painful. A lot of times we are waiting to be delivered from a negative situation. This negative situation is causing us to suffer and God is telling us to rest in Him amidst the pain. When we wait and nothing seems to be changing, that can cause frustration, fear and discouragement as well. Often, it’s not pleasant to wait, we long for things to change for the better and get discouraged when God’s only answer to our desperate cries is – “Wait”.

In those times when waiting is painful, your attitude towards waiting can make a big difference. Instead of getting upset over your negative, unchanging situation, release your negativity and relax in God. Rest in God’s peaceful presence. Fill your mind with Bible promises that God has a plan to prosper you (Jeremiah 29:11) and that God will work all things out for good (Romans 8:28).

Also, use the time of waiting to do good. Waiting doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re just sitting around doing nothing. While you’re waiting, find positive things you can do to fill up your time. For me, the time that I’ve spent waiting for a new full-time job to open up has been spent very wonderfully working on Christian book projects. These past five months have actually felt like a wonderful writing sabbatical, as it has given me the opportunity to study crucial Christian topics that I always wanted to study but never had time to do so. I’ve been studying topics like God’s favour, the prosperity gospel and how to overcome suffering and problems, and these past five months have been a great period of accelerated spiritual growth as I’ve had time to learn about great spiritual truths from the Bible and good Christian writers.

The key to waiting is to trust God to do it His way. It’s realizing that God is sovereign, He is in control of the universe and He is working behind the scenes to provide a way to save and bless you. Through our own logic and human reasoning, we often have preconceived ideas and our own plan of how things should turn out for us to be happy. Waiting forces us to give up our own plans and our own logic of how things should turn out, and makes us submit to God’s ways and God’s plans of doing things. As God says in Isaiah 55:8 –

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

Waiting means giving up our own ways and surrendering ourselves fully to Him, saying to God – “My life is in your hands, do with me as you will”. Waiting means resting, trusting and peacefully watching God unfold events in your life, instead of clinging stubbornly to your own ideas of how you want your life to turn out.

One thing that will help make your waiting more bearable is to count your blessings. Look for the positive things in your life during your period of waiting. For me, during my job search, apart from it giving me time to work on my passion Christian book projects, it’s also allowed me to spend more time with my friends. Since I’m working from home and have a flexible schedule, not having a full-time job has given me the ability to have more opportunities to have lunch with friends and I deeply value the time God has given me to fellowship with my friends. It’s also opened up opportunities for me to spend a lot of time at home with my mother, who I love dearly, so I value the time every day where we can share a tea break together, chatting over rooibos vanilla tea and dessert. God is good and God is light. You’ll find that even in the darkness of waiting, God has blessed you with certain things and by focusing on those blessings, it will increase your gratitude towards God and make you more appreciative of your time of waiting, and this will make the waiting more tolerable. The ideal situation is that by focusing on the blessings in your waiting period, you’ll see how many positive things have come about in your waiting situation that you’re actually happy that you have to wait. This is certainly true of my situation. I’m learning to enjoy the free time I have to study God’s Word and work on my personal writing projects, and spending quality time with friends, that I know that I’ll miss this time of joblessness when there comes a time when I have go back to the full-time job that God will provide for me.

The time of waiting can also be used to glorify God, as your patience is seen by others as a great testimony. As you cope with waiting with a positive attitude, bearing it with patience and not complaining, not despairing, the peace in your heart will shine like a light to inspire others to trust in God as well.

Seasons of waiting can be seen as times of testing. God uses the time to test you, to see whether during the waiting period you will trust Him with a peaceful attitude or succumb to fear, discouragement and impatience. Pass the test of waiting and you will receive a good reward from God. Those who wait will be rewarded with the gift of His salvation.

So it can be seen, that with the right attitude, handled correctly, the suffering of waiting can be transformed into a time of blessing. Be at rest, be patient, trust and depend on God and you’ll find that you’ll be able to rejoice in the night as you wait for the sun to shine again.

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A Christian Approach to Waiting (Part 2)

This week’s blog builds on last week’s post about the benefits and challenges of waiting.

Patience is an attribute of God. When we are patient, we are like Him. Thus waiting is good because it makes us more like God.

When you wait, at times it seems that nothing is happening. When you feel like that, remind yourself that you are always going somewhere in God’s plan. God is constantly moving you according to His purpose for your life. Your job is to be patient and wait for Him to accomplish it His way and His time. Even when your life is standing still, as long as you cling to God you are moving forward on the path of God.

Obedience to God is key. If you continue to obey God and take the steps you know are right, you will end up in God’s perfect place for you. The process might take a long time, so it’s important to not get discouraged. You can encourage yourself through prayer and reminding yourself of the promises in God’s Word.

Prayer is also crucial. Pray that God will wash away all fear, anxiety, doubt, impatience, lack of trust and discouragement. Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit, with His love, joy, peace, strength, wisdom and hope.

Waiting also increases your wisdom and improves your knowledge of God. Waiting helps you grow in the understanding of God’s ways, if you will not give in to fear, impatience or discouragement because your timetable does not coincide with God’s.

Develop contentment during your times of waiting. God has shown you that He wants you to tread the path of patience and waiting, so be content with this season of your life and don’t yearn for things to move faster.

Cultivate hope. Though your waiting times might be in darkness, have hope that the sun will come up again and at the end of the waiting period, you will bask in His light. Psalm 30:5 tells us –

For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favour lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

You can encourage yourself by coming to the realization that waiting is good for building and increasing faith. In Hebrews 11:6, it says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” When you are in a season of waiting, you need to have the faith that God will reward your waiting with something good. You’ll have to believe that you’ll receive that good thing before it happens. You’ve heard the expression – “I’ll believe it when I see it”. For Christians, we have to believe before we can see it – that’s faith. We walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Waiting is also good because it helps build endurance. God is training us like spiritual athletes, pushing us into longer periods of waiting to build our stamina and increase our endurance. Endurance is something that can only be developed through the long passing of time, thus God at times calls us to a season of waiting.

Waiting helps us develop a trust, reliance and dependence on God. You have to wait for Him to work for you rather than relying on your own efforts and strength. Instead of you making things happen, you surrender the situation to God who does all the work.

Waiting can be tough because you have to give up control, something which many people struggle with. It’s especially difficult when there’s nothing you can do to change the situation. In this case, all you can do is relax, be still, be at rest, release and surrender things to God, trust and depend on Him. Do not get troubled, anxious or disturbed, but hide under His strong and comforting wings.

Waiting requires you to trust God’s timing. Our timing is often different from God’s timing. If we had our way, we would want everything to happen immediately. Especially in the 21st century, we are used to a fast-paced life, we expect everything to happen quickly, even instantly – so when God’s timing slows us down, we can get agitated and frustrated.

Trusting God’s timing is a test of obedience. Will you submit to His timetable or insist on your own timetable? A great deal of growing in your relationship with God is surrender and submission – and waiting is about surrendering your time to God, submitting the “when” to the Lord of Time and trusting that He knows the best time for you to receive your promise.

God promises us many great things – but usually there might be a time lag between when the promise is issued and when the promise is fulfilled. Abraham had to wait twenty years before He saw the promise of his son Isaac being born. Joseph was a teenager when God gave him his dream of greatness and it was also nearly another twenty years – and through hard times of being a slave and a prisoner – before Joseph saw his dreams fulfilled when He became promoted to the prime minister of Egypt. A lot of times God promises us great things – things far beyond what we can hope or imagine – but the price of receiving that dream is waiting – we have to continue to trust and not give up even when everything tells us that the promise we are waiting for won’t happen.

Waiting is a process of not giving up. Waiting is the promise of clinging to God’s promise fervently, zealously, not allowing negative circumstances make you discouraged or lose hope.

Thus waiting requires great strength. Accepted correctly, waiting doesn’t make you passive, it makes you active as you build the muscles of perseverance, patience, endurance, hope, faith – all these things will strengthen your character and make you a mighty believer of God.

When you have to wait and your circumstances start becoming negative, there is the temptation to panic and take things into your own hands. But this only leads to more problems. For example, Abraham had problems waiting for Sarah to conceive Isaac, so he had a child with Sarah’s maid Hagar and the child Ishmael only brought them grief. The tragedy happened all because Abraham lacked the patience to wait for God’s promise to be fulfilled.

So when you’re waiting, be patient and look forward to God’s deliverance instead of taking things into your own hands. You’ll find that your patience will be well rewarded when you wait on God.

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The Christian approach to waiting

Recently, I’ve been dealing with the challenge of waiting.

I’ve been searching for a full time job for the past five months and waiting for God to open the door for a good job.

The challenges of waiting are many and the temptations that can afflict me are numerous. There is fear and anxiety – wondering what will happen if I won’t be able to get a job. There is a lack of trust that God will provide for me. There is discouragement as I send off application after application and go for interview after interview without any success. There is impatience as to why it is taking so long for me to land a job. There is the temptation to grumble and complain about negative circumstances.

However, what has been great for me and which I’m very grateful for is that God has given me His peace and patience so far, so I’ve been protected so far against negative thinking. That doesn’t mean I’m calm and happy all the time or that I never have any doubts, but in general, most of the time, God’s grace is with me, guarding my mind against negativity, guiding me with His wisdom and comforting me with His love. So as the temptations to be negative come to assault me, as I resist the negativity, it has been a time of growth as my faith, like a muscle, meets resistance, and this test of my faith helps increase my trust and reliance on God. I’m learning to rely on God to provide a good job for me instead of relying on my own skills and work experience, so this period of waiting has been and will be a good opportunity to learn the joy and humility of depending, relying and trusting in God.

The most effective way to combat negative thoughts I find is to saturate my mind with the Word of God. I’ve come up with a list of Bible verses that I soak my mind with whenever I feel the Enemy is attacking me with negative thoughts. I cling to God’s promises as I wait for His deliverance and salvation.

One Bible verse that encourages me is Psalm 37:7 – “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him”.

When we are placed in a situation where God is calling us to wait, we should do it in a spirit of stillness. If your circumstances are comfortable, being still is something relatively easy to do, but if your circumstances are negative, then being still can be very difficult. This is what the disciples faced when their boat was caught in a storm and Jesus was sleeping in the boat. The disciples were terrified and disturbed by the storm and amazed that Jesus was just sleeping and not doing anything to rescue them. But Jesus was sleeping not because He didn’t care about them, but because He knew that His power was protecting them from the storm. In the storm, all the disciples had to do was to be still and rest in God’s peace. When the disciples couldn’t stand it anymore and woke Jesus up, our Lord miraculously calmed the storm. He then rebuked them for not having the faith to wait for the storm to pass. This incident in the gospel teaches us that in the storms of life, sometimes all we have to do is to rest and be still in God’s peace, knowing that His power protects us from all harm and He will rescue and deliver us to a safe place and green pastures.

Here are some of the verses that have encouraged me in my waiting period:

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Psalm 130:5-6

I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.

Lamentations 3:25-26

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

One good tip for coping with the difficulty of waiting is to see it not just as waiting, but as waiting on the Lord. It’s much easier to think about waiting on God than it is to be patient with your circumstances. When you’re waiting on the Lord, you’re not just waiting for time to pass, but it’s a peaceful, restful, joyful anticipation of how God will reward you when the waiting period is over.

One thing that has been encouraging during my waiting period for a good job is that I’ve realized that waiting is part of God’s will for me at the moment. God has a good plan for my life and during this phase of my life, it is His will for me to wait and this season of my life is the season of waiting. Knowing that it is God’s will for me to wait brings comfort and peace because I know that as I wait patiently, I’m obeying God and pleasing Him. I know that this time of waiting is the best thing for me at this stage of my life, so I entrust myself into the loving hands of God who guides me along the perfect path for me. By realizing that waiting is God’s will for me, I also have the confidence that at the end of the waiting period, I’ll receive my reward – salvation, deliverance, joy.

When you wait, it is a process where you do nothing, but God is doing everything. It is a process of utter dependence on God. The good news is God is not passive, but is working His mighty power to create a marvellous future for you. In my case, I believe that what God is doing for me now is plenty, including changing the economy so a suitable job might open up to me, moving the right people to the right places, inspiring the hiring manager to look on my application favourable, granting me favour with people in authority, providing the budget to hire me, creating the vacancy and need for my skills and experience. I believe that God is doing so many things that I cannot see – but just because it’s invisible to me doesn’t mean it’s not happening. God is teaching me to live by faith, not by sight. I just have to remember that though I might not be doing anything, God is doing something. And God is not just doing something, He is moving mightily on my behalf, working things out with his amazing power. God is the ruler of the universe, working on things behind the scenes, in His infinite wisdom and power.

God reveals His purpose about why sometimes He wants us to wait in James 1:2-4 (NIV) –

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The King James Version translates the word “perseverance” as “patience”. Both interpretations are worth pondering. When we are called to wait by God, that helps us develop the quality of patience and perseverance. In fact, patience can only be developed during when you have to wait, thus waiting becomes an essential part of our spiritual growth. James tells us that patience will help us become mature and complete, not lacking anything. Thus we can rejoice during times of waiting, knowing that the time of waiting is creating in us patience, perseverance and endurance that is perfecting our character.

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 If you enjoyed reading this blog entry, please do visit this website again. I update the blog once a week, usually on Wednesdays.