A few weeks ago, I was reading through some of my old journals. Usually, this practice fills me with awe for God and all He has done in my life. But honestly, this time it left me downright discouraged.
Instead of celebrating the words scrawled on the pages, I focused solely on the prayers that don't have answers yet. As I continued reading, I became increasingly frustrated by my hopes and dreams that haven't panned out exactly how I thought they would. I couldn't shake the disappointment of a few visions that never came to fruition.
So, over the past few weeks, I've been thinking and praying a lot about waiting. Because, as recorded in my journals, waiting can be exhausting, discouraging, and defeating. But I don't want it to be that way.
I don't think it has to be that way.
We need to wait in order to move life from one season to the next. You might get the job, but then you're anxiously awaiting the promotion. You get promoted, but now you want a relationship. The relationship comes but you're waiting to be engaged. Engagement in itself is a built-in waiting process, designed to intentionally slow down and prepare for marriage. That tells me waiting might be a necessary, even a healthy, process.
Nature does a lot of waiting, too. Winter's frost is waits for Spring's buds to break through. Squirrels anticipate acorns falling. Birds wait for their eggs to hatch. Plants are waiting for rain. Stars are waiting for darkness so they can finally shine. Night is waiting for the first shimmers of sunrise.
Waiting plays a big, inevitable role in our world, however much we dislike being patient. Waiting isn't naturally easy or glamorous (enter: me crying over the pages of my old journals), but since I can't escape it, I might as well let it refine me. I can't control God's timing, but I can decide to use the waiting for good.
Since I re-read my old journals, I've started to realize that everyone is waiting for something. Even the person who I think "has it all" is likely yearning for something more. No one has enough power to escape the mystery. It's a process we all have to go through, so we might as well learn to wait in a way that grows and serves us.
I cannot guarantee the things I'm waiting for will ever happen, but I can absolutely use the waiting to shape me, to build patience and contentment in my heart and bring me closer to God in the process. The longer I wait, the more I realize that waiting isn't always about the thing I'm waiting for.
I don't think God puts his people through any process without purpose. The God I believe in is more concerned with making me someone than He is with getting me somewhere. So maybe, this waiting season is more sacred and meaningful than it feels. Maybe I won't receive the gift or the answer I've been praying for, but I do have the opportunity to grow in patience and contentment as I wait. Maybe my example of patience is building someone else's faith. Maybe if I stay true to God when the answers aren't clear, someone else will believe in His goodness and power a little more.
Isaiah 40:31 tells us that when we "wait upon the Lord" He will "renew our strength." Both people and God hold equal parts of the equation - we wait and He strengthens us. While knowing this doesn't change my circumstance, it does re-energize my heart to believe that God is using the waiting for good.
So if you are in a season of waiting - hang in there my friend. I know how hard it can be, but I believe God will renew your strength if you are bold enough to ask Him. Your waiting is worth it. If you never had to wait for what you wanted, you wouldn't need to have faith. Without waiting, you wouldn't need to trust God's plan and provision, you would never grow in patience and contentment. The waiting is working good things in you.
For better or for worse, we'll always be waiting for something. Let's wait well.