Wait on God
By Debby Rowe
Three sets of ten…correct position…inhale…exhale on exertion. As my husband and I weight trained for an adventure vacation, these became familiar phrases at our local gym. We got tired, sore, hot, and sweaty. But there is another kind of training that is even harder…”WAIT training.”
Are you waiting for a house to sell? Waiting for a soul mate? Waiting for a pregnancy or a rebellious teen or prodigal to come home? Perhaps you’ve been waiting for a job? Or what about waiting for health? Sometimes waiting for any answer to prayer seems difficult especially when it’s weeks, months, and even years. Sooner or later, waiting is an inevitable part of our lives.
Scripture is full of people who waited. Abraham and Sarah waited for a child. Isaac waited on the altar for God to intervene. Jacob waited seven years and one week for his beloved Rachel. Joseph waited 13 years for freedom. David waited 15 years for his new job as king. Jesus waited to begin his public ministry. God often answers our prayers with the four letter word, WAIT. You can feel crushed under the weight of “wait.” The heaviness seems unbearable at times. It’s tiring, painful, and can be disabling. But wait training is a discipline that is intended to strengthen us. Hebrews 12:11-12 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Waiting is a discipline that produces righteousness and peace or, in other words, Christian strength.
How Do We Grow Strong While Waiting?
We begin any fitness program with time. In this case time with God. Just as I committed to spend time at the gym, we need to spend consistent time in God’s presence, seeking His purpose and reviewing His promises. God knows me and my situation intimately. He is the perfect fitness trainer. I may not understand the why of the wait, but I do understand He is God and I need to trust Him. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds me that His thoughts and ways are higher than mine and Prov. 3:5-6 commands that I trust in Him with all my heart. I need to memorize my fitness verses so panic and fatigue don’t overwhelm me during the training. Just as I record my exercise regime and weights, record what you are learning and experiencing during the wait. Journaling, even sporadic journaling, helps to capture thoughts so that upon review we can see the growth of our character and wisdom muscles. Consistent time is not optional in training.
Look for Blessings
As we develop certain muscles, we cannot ignore what is happening in other areas. Often we become so obsessed with a “wait” event in our life, that we miss the other blessings of God. Our daughter returned from a mission trip to Russia with some type of intestinal problem. She battled this illness for two years while we prayed, waited, and consulted with doctors to no avail. Through her illness, her character was being refined, from extremely independent to open and vulnerable. She was allowing others to help. During this long health wait, she met a man and saw his servant’s heart. When she retells these events, she attributes her love story and eventual marriage to this wonderful, godly man as a result of her now cured illness. Her wait brought unexpected blessings from God. If she had not been watchful for God’s work during her illness, she would have missed that gift. Our “wait training” cannot be all consuming.
Not only do we need to watch for blessings in other areas of our lives, but we need to seek out opportunities to help and comfort others. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, was quoted while referring to his wife’s illness that “you can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems…one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.” Our personal and unique “wait” may open doors and provide the perfect connection with others, while easing our own burdens. Lessons I learned while parenting teens and young adult children have given me ample opportunity to personally comfort others and witness God’s faithfulness. These are high points during long seasons of waiting. My focus has to shift from “me” to God’s best for “you” and “us.” Life, even “wait training,” is not an individual competition but a team sport, building each other up in the Lord.
Our fitness regimen is also to be enjoyed. James tells us to consider it pure joy when we encounter trials (Jas. 1:3-3) and any discipline, such as “wait training” can be a trial. Joy is not defined as the yippy, skippy type, but the calm contentedness we have when we trust God’s control. We need to live the abundant life that Jesus promised even while waiting. Joyful living should not be “paused” like the button on a DVD player while we are waiting. How often have we said to ourselves, “I’ll be happy when the house sells? When I get a better job? When I feel better? When…?” We need to practice joy now, not when, because there is always the next when. The God of hope has promised JOY now as we trust in Him (Rom. 15:13).
Ask any athlete, weight training is hard work. So is “wait training.” It’s not a passive discipline; we need to willingly and actively focus on Jesus and watch for His blessings. We must capture our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 10:5). Our training requires consistent time, team building, and joyful endurance. Usually only in hindsight can we see how our character and wisdom muscles were developed.
As my husband and I can attest, our training did not seem particularly profitable until we put it to the test and trekked Mount Everest. Our trip was absolutely glorious and gorgeous, but it was also often grueling. Only then did we realize our conditioning was worth it. In fact, without it, we would have collapsed along the way. “Wait training” does the same thing for us spiritually. As we wait on God to answer specific prayers, we strengthen our “feeble arms and weak knees” knowing that the discipline of the wait will produce a “harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”