The waiting is the hardest part

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

From the song, “The Waiting” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I took up gardening a few years ago, and every year I learn something new. It’s not always about the gardening itself – there are plenty of spiritual lessons to be learned as well.

There’s a lot of waiting in gardening. Waiting for spring so you can plant, waiting for the seeds to emerge from the soil, waiting for plants to produce, and even waiting for them to stop producing! Waiting is hard. I’m not very good at it, but then again, who is?

There can be a lot of waiting in our spiritual lives as well. Waiting for God to answer a prayer, waiting for victory over a particular temptation, waiting for healing, waiting for loved ones to come to Christ.

In our modern day immediate-gratification society (particularly in America), we don’t have to wait for much. If we want to talk to someone on the other side of the world, we can do so at the push of a button. If we are hungry, there are fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, and microwaves. Need to research something? Google is at your fingertips.

We have not only forgotten how to wait, but we fail to see any value in it. And yet, God still calls us to wait at times. Why?

There is probably not a definitive answer, however the Bible is clear that:

  • We will have times of waiting on God
  • There is value in waiting
  • There’s a proper way to wait

Here are some ways we are encouraged to wait on God:

Quietly (Psalm 62:1, 5; Lamentations 3:26)
I’ll be honest, this is a tough one for me. The waiting itself is difficult enough, and now I’m not supposed to complain about it? I think these verses speak more to the quietness of our soul, resting in God and trusting Him.

With hope (Psalm 62:5, Psalm 119:81, Romans 8:23, Romans 15:4)
We must put our faith in action. Jesus IS our living hope (1 Peter 1:3), and He wants us to live with hope. That means we have to actually believe that what we are waiting on is possible.

Bravely and courageously (Psalm 27:14)
For some of us, self included, valor is not our strong suit. However, if we are trusting God and acknowledging His capability, it is easier to be fearless as we wait.

In His presence (Psalm 37:7, Isaiah 30:18)
Like any good father, God simply wants to be asked for help. When we don’t ask or attempt to fix things our own way, we can deprive ourselves of His divine power.

Patiently (Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:7, Psalm 40:1, Romans 5:3-5, James 5:7)
Once we bring our situation to Him, God lovingly asks us to persevere as He works things out. As we wait, we develop the capability of enduring through troubles, which molds our character and develops stronger spiritual muscles.

Without worrying about others (Psalm 37:7, Proverbs 20:22)
When waiting on God, it is easy to look at others with envy. Especially people who are doing all kinds of evil, seemingly without consequence. God says, “Don’t worry about that. Let me handle it.” That might require more waiting on our part, but it is not our place to hand out judgment or take revenge.

Confidently (Micah 7:7)
Sometimes other Christians can cause us to lose confidence in our waiting by making comments such as, “You just don’t have enough faith.” Or “Is there some area of unrepentant sin in your life?” There is nothing wrong with examining things such as this, but don’t allow your confidence to waiver that God hears you and is at work in your situation.

It should be noted, even if we wait in all the appropriate ways, resolution may not come this side of heaven. And it very rarely comes in the form we expect it to – but as my pastor frequently says, that’s a different sermon for a different day. :)

Working in the garden has taught me this: the harvest I get is the harvest I get. In other words, I can do all the right things, but in the end I have very little control over the results. My job is to be thankful for the harvest and use it wisely.

If you are in a season of waiting today, may you be encouraged by these words in James 5: “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

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