The “Waiting Wilderness” is some of the toughest terrain we can encounter. Those are the moments where we’re suspended between answered prayers and unexpected outcomes. It’s the expanse where God seems far way, and isolation sets in. Perhaps we start feeling left behind as we watch others’ prayers get answered while ours seem to go forgotten. A “Waiting Wilderness” can be a lonely place, but we don’t have to trudge through it alone.
In seasons of personal waiting I’ve seen God weave together His story with the pieces I’ve willfully given Him. I’ve also witnessed Him waiting patiently until I reluctantly gave Him fragments of my heart after having a death grip on them for years. I put dating on the back burner when I entered graduate school, only to have God lead me to a church where I’d shake hands with a man who asked me to be his wife 5 months later. Several years after our wedding I begged God to make me a mother. His mercy denied me a pregnancy but allowed us to meet a precious birth mother who delivered a baby she asked us to raise. Several years later we cried out to God to adopt again so our son could have a sibling. God slammed those doors shut, instead leading us to doctors and nurses who helped me get pregnant with our second son.
God has the power to wrap up our stories born out of seasons of waiting. It’s important that we share those stories with the Body of Christ. Testimonies of God’s goodness point others to Him. However, it’s always easy to trust Him when the story is complete; it’s more difficult when the story keeps unraveling, taking unexpected twists and turns until your nerves are frayed. Trusting God to write the story is difficult when the narrative is still unwritten.
I’ve entered another season of waiting in my life, so I’m relying on God’s track record as my foothold during the next path of uncertainly. Here’s what He’s still teaching me, and I pray it’s an encouragement to you.
God loves you. God sent His son Jesus to earth to die a criminal’s death and bear the weight of our sin. Through His sacrifice we have victory over sin and death. Romans 5: 8 says But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God has already worked out the biggest detail in our lives by giving us eternal life. Any small details that tie us in knots do not have to have power over us.
God wants the best for you. It’s tempting view God as a giant being who delights in watching us squirm. Perhaps we see Him as a tenuous taskmaster who parses out conditional love only when we make the “right” decisions. In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus reassures us of God’s intentions: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” God does not serve up sloppy seconds to his children. He always works a plan which glorifies Him and keeps us safe in His will.
God gives you people. Life is not a solo journey and God never intended for us to keep our problems and burdens to ourselves. Your friends and fellow believers cannot help you if you don’t clue them in. James 5:16 says Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. A “Waiting Wilderness” provides the perfect soil for worry, anxiety, resentment, and anger to take root and spring up. Letting others know our struggles is one of the steps toward overcoming them.
It’s not your burden to carry. My lifelong best friend told me this recently and I’m pretty sure I growled into the phone upon hearing it. However, she’s right.
1 Peter 5:7 offers this advice: Cast all your anxiety on [God] because He cares for you. Once we’ve done that, Galatians 6:2 commands us to rely on other Christ followers: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. When God and others have your back, you can trust you’re in good company.
God is still writing your story. Books are made up of numerous chapters. As any writer will tell you, they are continually fixing, adding, deleting, and tweaking their work. In the end, editing makes the story better. Even if God has wrapped up certain chapters in your life, He’s not done fine-tuning your overall narrative. Philippians 1:6 reminds us He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. How wonderful that God never gives up on us!
The “Waiting Wilderness” can be a trying spot, but you don’t have to endure it alone. May you find comfort in the cleft of God’s rock, His people, and the knowledge that even the longest of seasons do not last forever.
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Photo: Alais Wagner 2018