A young girl waits patiently to deliver a baby boy that would change the course of her life, and change the trajectory of history forever. A man is called to build something seemingly ridiculous, waiting for God’s promise of rain to ring true. A father tragically loses all of his children, becomes extremely ill, and must patiently wait for God to restore all he lost, while his wife continually mocks him. A strategic leader must wait 24 hours in a lion’s den to see if his God will radically save him. A queen who must endure long months of her people in serious peril to reveal her true identity and save the Jews. A man and his wife must wait for a son promised by God that would give them generations upon generations of children.
Oh, how numerous the stories of waiting in Scripture are! And though many lead to a victorious ending, I often find myself questioning why “waiting” seems to be such a pivotal and climactic theme in the Bible. Why does God enjoy the process? What is he hoping to do within us?
At five or six years old, the longest thing I felt I needed to wait for was the final destination of a long car ride. I continually asked if we were there yet. As I got older, the questions I found myself asking were harder and much more frightening. When will my mom stop drinking? When will my dad talk to me again? When will I be healed from anxiety? When will I get married? When will I feel good enough? When will I be able to pay my next bill? The bigger questions seemed to have hesitated answers, accompanied by long nights of tossing and turning and days of overthinking.
As someone who has experienced many seasons of waiting in my life, I find myself seeking to understand why these long days, unanswered prayers, and tearful nights are necessary. Could it be true that God simply doesn’t hear me? Could it be that he just doesn’t care for my needs? Or is he doing something much bigger than I could ever understand? I chose to trust the latter, and what a beautiful choice that was. The waiting has never gotten easier, but my Jesus has become so much sweeter, so much bigger, and so much mightier than I ever thought he could be. I implore you, just for the next few minutes, to choose the latter with me.
Maybe this person in the waiting is you. Maybe you are waiting to be healed from depression. Maybe you are waiting for your kids to fall in love with Jesus. Maybe you are wondering how the next bills will be paid for. Maybe you are waiting for a spouse who will love you like Jesus. Maybe you are waiting for a family member to be freed from an addiction.
When I have found myself with these impenetrable questions and fears, I think of King David. King David—a man after God’s own heart—who got himself into so much unnecessary trouble, was in hiding for long periods of his life, danced and sang in the streets, threw pity parties like no one I have ever met or read about, and yet loved God with sincerity and vigor. This David uttered words that I speak over myself daily.
LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;Psalm 16:5-11 NIV
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16 was written as David ran for his life from King Saul. David had 400 men against Saul’s 3,000. Somehow, David gets the upper hand on Saul and has the opportunity to kill him. Yet, he does not. David is faced with the one thing he had been waiting for for years, yet when it is handed to him, he somehow does not desire it anymore. What happened to David in the waiting?
David’s answer? Verse 5: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup” (emphasis added).
Somehow, between the days of hiding from Saul and finding an opportunity to be rid of this problem for good, David switched his focus from the hunt of Saul to the adoration of God. He stopped being concerned for his safety, provision, and victory, and sought the presence of God above all, which in turn, became his victory.
What is waiting, really?
Waiting is meant to be patient and earnest. Not patient and earnest for your desired outcome, but patient and earnest in seeking God’s presence alone. The victory is not actually after the waiting. The waiting is the victory. If our real desire is to see Jesus as our prize as David does, seasons of waiting actually refine us and cause us to dive deeper into his presence, giving us what our heart really longs for. Once the waiting is over, whatever we were waiting for pales in comparison to the prize of his presence, which we already won in the waiting.
When I find myself in places of restless waiting, I am reminded of David choosing the better portion in this moment. I am reminded of Abraham, who after receiving his promise of a son, was willing to sacrifice him for God. I am reminded of Esther, who was willing to give up her life to save God’s people. I am reminded of Mary, Jesus’ mother, who loved him so dearly, yet watched her son die on a cross for you and me. I am reminded of Paul and Silas in the prison cell praising God—not for him to open the cell, but simply praising him because his presence was all they desired. I am reminded of Jesus in the garden, asking for a different cup, and though he didn’t receive an alternate option, he willingly choosing to die on the cross, satisfying God’s wrath and grace simultaneously, so we could enjoy his presence forever.
These people chose God as their portion. And though our questions may not be answered just yet, our Jesus is giving us the true desire of our souls—himself to enjoy FOREVER! Our hearts were created in union with God, and we chose against him time and time again. Sin destroyed our ability to know God. Though we deserved none of it, God himself became the sacrifice. He died so that death could never swallow us. He eradicated the space between us. He reconciled our hearts to his. He gave us his Spirit to dwell within us at all times.
What the people of old desired and longed for more than anything is given to us freely. Nothing we do could ever earn his love, yet we are loved fully and completely. Though the waiting seems unbearable, if our God could devise a plan to even save us from ourselves, taking away the threat of death forever, I promise he can meet you in the waiting. Even better, he promises to meet us in the waiting. He promises to give us the desire of our hearts: more of himself. Anything else we could ever receive will never be as beautiful as knowing him.
Believers, this is where our victory is found. I challenge you to take hold of this truth, to make his presence what you seek after. The waiting will always be difficult. but my Jesus is faithful to restore me even from death, and he is able to meet and restore me here, as well. This is available for you, friend. My prayer is that Jesus’ presence has come alive to you in these words; that you have been stirred to dive deeper into knowing him intimately as a Father and a friend.
Further Application & Study
- When you find yourself striving, read Psalm 16: the turning point of David’s desire. What has changed within his heart? Where is his hope? I encourage you to evaluate your hopes and desires in comparison to David’s. Write out what you are waiting for and surrender it to the Lord in prayer, trusting that he will fulfill the desires of your heart.
- Go through the stories listed above (Mary, Abraham, Job, etc) and read how God meets them in the middle of their waiting every single time. This always encourages me, because I know my God does not change. If he met them, he is faithful to meet me, too.
- Identify things in your life that could distract you from diving deeper into his presence as you are waiting. Maybe it is discouragement from those around you, or even yourself. I challenge you to speak life into what you are waiting for and to only listen to what God has to say.
- Do practical things to keep you focused: increase your time with God, take care of your body physically (exercise and eat healthy), spend limited time on social media, etc.
Photo credit: Emilee Carpenter