A great challenge in our culture is to wait. It goes against our grain. We live in a time and place where so many of our discomforts can be swiftly eased. Technology has made our time of waiting in communication nearly non-existent. I can remember as a teenager when my older brother was in the Peace Corps in India and the long waiting for the telephone call where the operator was announcing a call from “Bombay, India.” The family waited a long time in the middle of the night huddled in the kitchen around the corded phone attached to the wall for that distant voice of my brother to finally come across the line. We thought it miraculous. I never could have imaged telecommunications today. Fast forward to the year 2020. I have a nephew that teaches at a University in India. We can “chat” on facebook quickly and easily. What a contrast!
The ability to have what we want quickly in so many areas makes the concept of waiting even harder. As you and I minister to the people God puts across our path, it is evident that we as human beings in this culture struggle greatly with the concept of waiting in relationships. That’s because relationships are often the epicenter of incredible pain.
The pain meter goes off of the scale when there is a severing of relationship because of death, divorce, or a breaking of bonds. At our very core we can have this unshakable conviction this severance was just wrong. In many cases, it is. Life did not go as we thought it would or should, and we find ourselves scrambling for answers, for assurance and for security. Our world has been shaken.
It is painful to wait – even if we are waiting upon God for a response to our broken heart. We desperately want to stop the emotional bleeding; to make sense of the unbelievable; to trust that this chapter in life is not random and out of control. It hurts. Many of my deepest prayers in my darkest hours have been simply that…God it hurts!!!! Can you relate?
God has given us a truly wonderful and magnificent gift in having other people in our lives. I’m not suggesting we should cut ourselves off from friendship and fellowship when times get hard (we most definitely need other people). However, there is such a magnetic attraction to try to fill the aching voids in our lives with another person (and quickly!). We can easily jump “from the fire into the frying pan”. At that point we are incredibly vulnerable. Yet, our culture pushes us to deal with the pain by going to other people to fill our needs instead of God! There are some tremendous life lessons we can learn only from a season alone with God. It’s a conscience effort to choose to trust in Him instead of our emotions. This season alone with God can be a most profound and deeply spiritual experience. It can most certainly be a time of amazing growth. Please notice I did not say that it is easy. What we do find, however, is that God is faithful; He is sovereign; and He is indeed good – deeply, tenderly and mercifully good! Waiting on the Lord is countercultural, but it is Biblical. Consider some words from James:
“For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord’s plan finally ended in good, for He is full of tenderness and mercy.” James 5:11 (NLT)
The Apostle Paul uses a word for a season in life in which we focus on God fully. The word is “undistracted.” Though death or the breaking of relational bonds may have removed that important person from what was once our “normal rhythm of life” the resulting sense of aloneness can be a powerful force to drive us closer to God. Through the very tragedies that would seek to undo us, God is able to raise up a new strength within our hearts and minds. When Jesus becomes that dear to us, no substitute will ever compete for first place in our hearts. It is indeed a gift to have a stretch of time to entirely focus on God. There can be a sweet acceptance to His promises to be our protector, provider and One that understands us as no other. With Job, we will someday be able to say:
“But He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (NIV)
The Apostle Peter reminds us:
“These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold.” I Peter 1:7a.
Who would think that something as simple, yet as difficult as waiting would be a tool in the hands of our Maker for producing something more valuable than gold?