Do you ever have those moments in life where you are left wondering – why or asking yourself what just happened?
We wonder why the plans we have made in life all of a sudden are not working out way we wanted or even well planned. It seems that our once straight pathway now has four sharp turns, and three massive hills. When my husband and I first got married we had lots of plans – and within a year of our marriage very few of those plans were working out the way we anticipated. There were many nights we stayed up talking and wondering why life was panning out the way it was – because it was quickly going in a direction we had never planned.
We often wonder why we are all of a sudden in a crisis or difficult circumstance when we are the ones doing things the right way – making the good decisions – going to church – eating healthy – not over spending – helping others – doing all those good things that people who follow Jesus are supposed to do.
Why me? Why now? Why not someone else? There are lots of other people that do worse things than me. Really, haven’t we been through enough over here?
Let’s be honest – it would be nice if life didn’t throw us a curve ball all the time.
In these moments we are often left wondering where God is and why isn’t he doing something right now to fix the problem? He’s God right – shouldn’t he be able to just magically poof it all back to normal – back to the way it was – before our life went spiraling out of control?
It helps sometimes to just claim it – ready? Here we go – Life. Happens. (Feel free to insert the non-family friendly version too)
One of the hardest parts of life happening and unfolding around us is we are often left waiting in the why and what just happened moments.
And sometimes we are waiting for a long time, and for what we aren’t even sure – we are just waiting.
I’m not big on waiting – I, don’t do it well. I don’t like waiting in line, especially for coffee. Let me just say, I am one of those people (those snooty coffee people) at the coffee shop that if you don’t know what you want when you get to the register I get annoyed. I get annoyed because I know exactly what I want and I’m not in the mood to wait for you to try and figure it out. Ok. Phew got that off my chest.
I don’t like waiting for my kids to get ready in the morning, especially when I’m in a hurry.
I don’t like waiting for John to call me back when I know he’s had a tough medic run.
I don’t like waiting in traffic – or at the red light.
I don’t like waiting, and yet in the midst of life, in the midst of why me – and wondering what just happened moments, I am left waiting, waiting for some kind of resolve or end. I am left waiting for that glimmer of light coming through the end of the tunnel. Waiting for some kind of sign, some kind of clue, some kind of answer.
Waiting is hard.
However in this midst of that waiting we hear God saying to us – Be Still. Be still and know that I Am God.
Being still is crazy hard when life already seems like it is standing still from our wrecked plans. It’s in these moments I don’t want to be still, I want it to move as fast as it can to the end of the story. Yet God is there, reminding us to Be still, and Know that He is God and He has everything under control .
I think of stories in the bible where people waited and heard the words, be still: Sarah and Abraham waited a long time before they had a child. Joseph was in prison for three years waiting for release. Esther waited 6 years before she realized why she was taken from her home. Israel waited 40 years in the desert before heading into the promise land. Noah waited over a year on a boat before he stepped foot on dry land. Jesus waited 40 days in the desert being tempted by Satan. Simeon waited to see the Messiah. Paul waited three days for his sight to come back. God’s people wait, a lot.
You see sometimes the period of waiting is the time when God is preparing us for what is next. It’s that time that God is preparing others, the situation for what He has in store. He may be preparing us physically, mentally, spiritually. It is because of this time – and what God is doing that we cannot just give up – throw in the towel and completely fly off the handle when life happens to us.
So what do we do as we wait?
Here are 5 Ways We Can Wait Through Life
1. Wait Wisely
During the waiting period we can respond by waiting unwisely – being impatient, doing things on our own, isolating ourselves from everyone and anything, seeking destructive behaviors as comfort. We can take matters into our own hands and try and force things along.
Or we can respond by waiting wisely.
We can respond by leaning in not out. Lean in to God. Immerse yourself in the scriptures, surround yourself with people who will lift you up and provide words of wisdom and clarity. Worship – take this waiting period and get to know God in ways you never knew possible.
There are times I wish waiting wisely was being able to bypass it all and skip to last chapter to find out how the story ends, but we can’t do that.
And to be honest I’m not sure I want to know the ending. I’m not sure I want to skip the waiting period because I learn a lot in the waiting, and God does some of his best work in me during those times.
My questions don’t always get answered, and there are times I never hear why, but in those waiting moments – some are days, weeks and even years – in those moments I find comfort knowing that God is present, and in full control of the situation working behind the scenes making good thing happen – for HIS Glory.
Paul said that God works for the good of those who love him. I believe that in the midst of my waiting, whether the situation was God intended or not, that God can and is making something positive come out of every situation.
When life happens and the waiting period begins – wait wisely – and do everything you can to let God work in you and through you.
2. Have Courage Regardless of the Outcome
It’s easy to shut down while waiting. It’s easy to crawl into a hole and never come back out. Sometimes the waiting is exciting and filled with anticipation, while other times it’s more frustrating and terrifying.
We are called to have courage even in the midst of an unknown situation. Joshua was commanded to be strong and courageous even though he had no idea what would happen next.
Courage isn’t the absence of fear – courage is acknowledging your fears and acting anyway.
Courage is walking into that hospital for your first or last chemo treatment.
Courage is standing up for what is true, honorable and right.
Courage is speaking up, even though everyone in the room is against you.
Courage is running in while everyone else is running out.
Courage is sharing your story of what God is doing in your life…as you wait…in the middle of life happening.
Courage is waking up and taking another step forward.
As you wait, wait with courage.
3. Embrace the Uncertainty of the plan and adjust when necessary
At some point in life we have to accept and embrace that there will always be uncertainty in our plans. There is no magic crystal ball or even magic 8-ball. There is no fortune cookie going to give us the exact answer we want – and because of this we live not truly knowing what will happen.
This isn’t always easy when some of us like details and like planning our lives down to the very minute. I am not saying stop planning, what I am saying is accept that every plan in life is filled with a certain level of uncertainty that may require us to adjust our plans, schedules, lives.
If we never accept that uncertainty is part of life we will continually find ourselves frustrated when things don’t go according to the plans. Life is uncertain and we need to adjust when necessary – the sooner we accept this the more successful we will be, especially in the midst of the waiting and wondering.
4. Trust God has Everything Under Control
It is really easy to take control when things are seemingly spiraling out of control, but try and avoid doing this. There are some things outside our control and they are better left out of our control.
The best thing to do in this moment is acknowledge that we cannot control everything in life, but we can control our response and that response is to trust that God has FULL control of the situation.
I realize that this is much easier said than done. However, when there are no answers, often the only answer is to trust God has everything under control. This is where the leaning in really helps.
As hard as it may be, we can trust that God’s faithfulness is greater than the circumstance(s) we find ourselves in.
5. Stop and Step Outside the Frame
So often in crisis or difficult circumstances we get tunnel vision and have a hard time seeing what is happening around us. We are focused on what is happening right in front of us. This can cause us to be blinded to what is really going on.
In order to prevent tunnel vision we need to see the whole picture, and to do this we have to step outside the frame.
This process often involves others who can see the whole of everything – sometimes we are just too close, which is why surrounding ourselves with others who are there for us is crucial. They often add clarity and perspective.
Often when we can stop and step outside the frame we see that God is indeed still there, he is just working behind the scenes creating a picture that is bigger than anything we could imagine.
What is God doing with you and your life in the waiting period?
Remember, just because we don’t get what God is doing, doesn’t me God isn’t doing something. Just because we can’t see the end, doesn’t mean that God isn’t preparing us for it.
So as you wait allow God to work through you. Allow God to get you ready for whatever is next.
Finally, wait wisely, wait with courage, wait embracing the uncertain moments and make those adjustments when necessary, wait while trusting God has everything under control, and lastly wait with anticipation that a much bigger picture is being create.