When my (first) little sister was a toddler I often lamented "Patience is a virtue that you don't have!" I knew I was just as guilty of impatience, but it was so much more fun to accuse her. Big sisters can be mean. Looking back, that's one of the reasons I wanted my kids close in age; I knew it took years and horrible experiences for us to bond well, and I wanted better for my kids. Maybe God's plan is better than mine.
A few weeks ago a dear friend said her daily devotion was on the subject of waiting, and she thought I would like to read it. I told her I'm always eager to hear more on this topic, as it's been a great struggle for me. Last night she handed me a photocopy of the devotion. I read it this morning, and I have to share some of it with you.
From Charles Spurgeon:
For example, Jacob had to wait all night for a blessing from the Lord, for God "wrestled with him till daybreak" (Gen. 32:23). Jesus did not immediately answer the plea of the woman of Syrian Phoenicia "whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit" (Mark 7:25). "Three times [Paul] pleaded with the Lord to take .... away" his "thorn in [the] flesh" (2 Cor. 12:7-8), but never received any assurance it would happen. Instead, he was given the promise from the Lord: "My grace is sufficient for you" (v. 9).
If you have been knocking at God's gate of mercy but have not received an answer, do you believe I can tell you why the all-powerful Creator has not opened the door and let you enter? I cannot, for our Father has reasons for keeping us waiting that are all His own. Sometimes it is to demonstrate His power and sovereignty so people will know Jehovah has a right to give and withhold. Yet more often than not it is for our benefit. Perhaps you have been kept waiting in order that your desires would become more passionate. God knows His delay will enliven and increase your desire, and that if He keeps you waiting, you will see your needs more clearly and will seek an answer more earnestly, and that ultimately you will value His mercy even more having waited for it.
There is so much more in this little devotion I would love to write, but there just isn't time. What struck me this morning is these are three examples I've rarely seen referenced when talking about waiting. Sarah and Abraham are commended for waiting for Isaac. Hannah is praised for waiting for Samuel. These are amazing stories, and I have been encouraged by each from time to time, but sometimes knowing both waits ended with a baby is heartbreaking to a woman waiting for children she may never have.
Why is God keeping us waiting? Part of me believes it's to help us take our eyes off the things of this world and focus on Him. I struggle with that so much, I fear my eyes will never fully focus on my God. Sometimes I think it's to give us the patience we will need with an infant and a pre-teen in the house. More than likely it's a reason we will never know until we see Him face to face. I hope that while I wait I can direct others to Him. I hope that I can encourage and uplift the people around me, reminding them there is more than this life. As I wait, I look for examples of God's blessings, and encouragement from others who have waited.
One example God showed me this week came from a family our church is sending to be missionaries in Africa. I just started to get to know them in 2012, about two years before they were finally able to make the move to Chad. This Sunday God used the husband to speak to me. I realized while listening to more of their story I need to quit focusing on a pregnancy or baby. I need to quit trying to figure out God' plan. He's God, He's big enough to worry about it. I've tried hard in the last two years to think of every solution, hoping that once I thought of everything God would have to go with one of them. Now I see that's just silly. God will do what He wants, and He knows more than I could ever hope to. His solution is perfect, and still probably very different from what I have "planned". I'm stepping out on faith, saying God's way is the ONLY way. My expression of faith right now is to rest in God, drawing close to Him. I am called now to wait patiently and quietly. If you know me at all, you know this is a greater challenge for me than dealing with a room full of screaming toddlers. Please pray for me, for I don't know how I'm going to learn to wait and rest. I am going to rest on the words of David:
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.