I have been trying to find the words to write this post for months now. I've attempted it about 5 different times. I think sometimes as a Christian, we talk so much on being joyful and grateful even in the trials that we feel we will come off as ungrateful, or a complainer if we talk about our struggles. That is how I feel anyways. I would hate to learn that I was ever perceived as a complainer to anyone. But the fact remains, that due to sin in the world, we WILL face trials. Trials come in many different forms, sometimes just through life itself, and maybe sometimes through our own poor choices. How we respond to those trials says a lot about us. We should respond with a grateful heart and a joyful disposition, but we also need to talk about them, because that is how we help others get through similar situations. That's why the Bible is filled with stories of people making mistakes and going through hard times, so that we can see from their testimonies how to deal with our own lives and how to better depend on God through them.
I remember learning about the Israelites in Exodus when they left Egypt. God had clearly done AMAZING works in their lives, yet they grew tired of waiting, built an idol to worship, and were then punished to wait to enter their paradise that was promised to them for 40 years. What idiots, I always thought. And how horrible to have to wait on something for FORTY years! Then I think of Sarah and Abraham and their prayer to have a child. God promised them a child, but they too grew impatient and tried to take control of the situation like the Israelites did. In both situations, God was still faithful to fulfill His promise, but the path that got them their was much more difficult then it had to be if they would have just been obedient to God. It's a lot easier to sit on this side of history and think how foolish those people were, when we know how it all turned out for them. It's a lot harder, to remember God's sovereignty in your own life, as you wait for your own hopes and dreams to happen, as you wait for God to answer a prayer, as you wait for something to happen for you that seemingly happens so easily for others.
I have been in a waiting season. Honestly, I'm not quite sure if it's the result of a poor decision I've made that God wasn't cool with or if it is just a matter of God's timing as He works out all of these little details behind the scenes. I just don't know, but man is it hard. I have tried many times to be like Sarah and take control of things myself, and surprisingly (not surprisingly), it hasn't worked out. It is hard to know sometimes whether or not things that look like opportunity are the world's distractions from what God has called you to or if they really are that, an opportunity. There have been times when I have felt peace in my waiting. "Yes God, I will be patient because I know you have a bigger plan." Those periods don't usually last long if I'm being honest with you!
Maybe you are in a season of waiting like I am, or maybe you are fixing to be and you don't even know it. I don't pretend to know it all, but like I said earlier, I think we have to talk about our struggles to some degree to help others when they face something similar. Here are a few things I have learned as I'm waiting-
1. It is okay to question and even be angry at God. He is GOD and He can take it, but don't let it fester and control you. Don't let it be the only thing you see. It's natural to feel those things, let yourself feel them, and move on from it. We see in Psalm that David was facing a lot of these feelings of anger towards God, read Psalm 42:9-11. However, in his anger, he holds onto the truth that his hope is in God and he continues to praise Him through his frustration. James 1: 19-21 says this, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the rightesousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all the moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."
2. Don't dwell on whatever you are waiting for. When you dwell on it and try to figure out why it's not happening, that's when you start to try to figure things out for yourself and stop depending on God. Instead, look at what is going on around you. Where are there needs in your church and in your community that need to be met? Where are others hurting? How can you better serve others and pray for them? When you are focused on others, it's easier to get out of your own little pity party. Speaking from experience here. There is always someone that has it worse, or is going through something bigger than you are. Throw yourself into a service project, into someone who needs a spiritual mentor in their life, into something else other then yourself. Make your prayer life about others instead of your own situation. I'm not saying it's not okay to pray for yourself or even ask for prayers from others, but again, address it, then move on. Don't dwell on yourself. "Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3.
3. This sounds counter-intuitive from the last paragraph, but do continue to pray on it and to seek God's will in the situation. Honestly, this is something that kind of bites at me whenever someone tells me to "pray about it." It's kind of the Sunday School Jesus answer that people say to you as advice when they don't really know what else to say. I am kind of like, what do you think I have been doing? But, even if they are just saying it because they don't know what else to say, it is truth. Dig deep into scripture and then bathe it in prayer. Something I've had to realize is that maybe I was praying for it in the wrong way. Maybe I needed to stop praying for what I am wanting and pray that I would be open to whatever God wants me to do. Maybe I needed to pray that I will continue to persevere through my struggles even if it doesn't turn out how I want. James 4:3 says "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (And on the other side of this, maybe instead of just encouraging someone to "pray about it" maybe actually pray for them right then and there. That would mean so much more.)
These are all, of course, much easier said then done. I'm definitely not perfect and I mess up, try to be controlling, get frustrated and complainy, and feel sorry for myself, but I want to persevere. In the end, when I reach the end of this tunnel, if I do, I hope I can say that I am exactly where God wants me to be when He wants me there. Maybe I'm not really waiting on anything, but maybe God is just waiting on me to accept that I am right where He wants me to be. Waiting is super hard, but I know that whatever God has planned for my life, it is infinitely better than what I could plan. If you are going though any kind of trial, James is a great book of the Bible that speaks so much truth in walking though life's trials. Keep the faith brother and sister, and keep persevering!