Friday, April 29, 2016

The Faith To Wait

"Be still, and know that I am God…" Psalm 46:10

As a child, I remember waiting for certain moments—like Christmas, birthdays, and summer. I often felt like I couldn't wait to receive gifts, be another year older, or for school to be out. Back then, having to wait a week or a month seemed like forever! I'm sure you can relate to that feeling, but little did we know our adult lives would also require a lot of waiting:

Graduation, getting that first job, falling in love, getting married, having children, getting a full night's sleep again, getting a better job, that dream job, that dream vacation, waiting to be healed from an illness or injury, for so-and-so to change, for retirement, for the kids to come home for a visit…on and on the waiting goes. Benjamin Franklin said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." I'd like to add, except death, taxes, and waiting!

There are times when waiting is a mere inconvenience, and other times when it's nearly unbearable. You think, Will I ever get there? Will my dream ever come true? Will things ever get better? Will this hardship ever end? Maybe it's hopeless, Maybe I should give up.

Waiting can be annoying, waiting can be extremely frustrating; but waiting can also be purposeful. Waiting can make us appreciate things more when they finally come. Waiting can remind us of all the blessings we already have. Waiting can be a time of deep reflection: It can help us focus on what we truly need or what is really important. Sometimes a time of waiting ends in getting what we want, and other times we gain new perspective and head in a new direction that leads to paths we never considered.

You have probably experienced some or all of these benefits of waiting at different times, and when it comes to waiting, perspective is invaluable. It can keep you going. It can keep you from giving up. The right perspective can ultimately make dreams come true when each stepping stone carries you all the way to your destination, and it can definitely make the journey much sweeter, no matter where you end up.

When it comes to faith, waiting is often involved; but sadly, waiting is often seen as evidence of a lack of faith: 'If you had more faith, this wouldn't be happening to you; If you had more faith, your child would be well by now; If you had more faith, your dreams would have come true a long time ago; If you had more faith, God wouldn't be testing you like this.'

Have you ever heard these kinds of judgements from others, or have you ever thought them yourself? While a lack of faith can certainly result in less than ideal circumstances, it should NEVER be attributed to anyone simply because their prayers and desires are not being immediately granted. It's actually the opposite: Having the faith to wait is faith's strongest form.

Jesus said to the woman who had waited twelve years for healing: “Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matt. 9:22)  She was healed at the moment Jesus said she was healed, but I highly doubt that was the first time she had hoped and prayed for healing. She had been waiting for twelve years, and that day finally came! Why? Because she had lacked faith before? Or, because she still had faith after so much suffering?

The writer of Hebrews talks about this enduring kind of faith: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (11:1)  The desired result, the healing, the fruit, the change is not yet a reality; but it's coming, you can feel it. How long it will take, you have no idea—probably longer than you want it to. But in the waiting, sweet treasures can be found, if you take the opportunity to see what's already available:

More time with the people already in your life while you wait for who or what is "missing". Enjoying the qualities of others while you wait for their imperfections to be refined. Feeling good about how far you've come while you wait to reach the next step in your journey. Enjoying each day for whatever it holds.

More time with God, more enjoyment of HIM. More listening. More trust. More dependence. Anything you need to feel better, safe, fulfilled, satisfied, purposeful…you can find those things in His presence and His love.

Don't believe me? Try it. When you get done reading this, take a moment, a minute, five minutes, twenty… Just be with Him and listen. Just be with Him and be loved. Just be with Him and say, 'I trust You. I'll wait.'