When I was in third grade, we had a butterfly net in our classroom as part of our science class. For several weeks, we raised four caterpillars and kept track of their growth as they transformed into cocoons and then butterflies. We all waited eagerly to see our butterflies, and as third graders, it felt like forever before we would finally get to see the cocoons hatch open and the butterflies spread their wings for the first time.
One day, my teacher walked in on one of the boys from my class standing next to the open butterfly net and holding one of the cocoons in his hands. He didn’t realize that he was hurting the butterfly, but he was so tired of waiting to see it that he wanted to crack the cocoon open right then. He wanted it to open on his terms and his timing, and in return, we were only able to release three of the four butterflies. His impatience cost the entire class a butterfly that we had invested our time in for several weeks.
Whether it’s third graders and butterflies, the line at the amusement park, or college acceptance letters, it’s human nature to not enjoy waiting. We have very little patience for much at all these days since everything has become so easily accessible. While each and every one of us is guilty of growing impatient at some point or another, children are the epitome of impatience. Whether it’s waiting in line, waiting for food at a restaurant, or waiting to go home when Mom is still talking to her friends after twenty minutes, kids don’t like to wait!
But while we don’t like to admit it, the impatience doesn’t go away over time. As we grow older, we wait for more important things, like friendships, peace, direction, opportunity, breakthrough. Waiting for that paperwork to go through when buying a house, waiting to hear back from that college we wanted to get into, or waiting for answers to medical problems. The list goes on and on. No matter the circumstances, the “waiting game” is, by nature, not one we enjoy playing at any stage in our lives. We like things to happen when we want them to and the way we want them to.
However, when we have a relationship with Christ, we are committing ourselves to playing the waiting game each and every day of our lives, without knowing how long or how painful the wait will be. But waiting for God is different – it has a purpose and comes with a powerful outcome. God didn’t just give us seasons of waiting to make us feel restless, or like we’re wasting time. He didn’t just say “Let’s break things up and add a little uncertainty and impatience to the mix, just for the fun of it”. God cares deeply about the seasons of waiting, of stillness, and He wants us to care deeply about them too. These seasons are valuable and can be used as times of growth in our relationship with Him if we learn how to treat them.
As humans, we love to be in control of our circumstances and know everything that’s going on around us. When we feel out of control or uncertain, it’s scary. But when we give our lives to Christ, we surrender that desire to know everything. We choose to walk blindly and say, “God, I’m all in. Whatever your plan is, I will follow.” It’s scary that every day, we have to recommit ourselves to the waiting and choose another day of trust, especially when it would be so much easier to do things our own way. Yet that’s what Abraham (Genesis 12) did for nearly twenty-five years before God finally fulfilled His promise.
God had promised Abraham a child despite his old age, saying to Abraham, “I will set up my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you greatly. As for me, here is my covenant with you: You will become the father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:2,4). After years and years of waiting, “…the Lord did to Sarah as He had promised” (Genesis 21:1) and Abraham’s wife gave birth to their son, Isaac. God provided Abraham and Sarah with the impossible.
God doesn’t need us to fulfill the promises He makes. The God we serve is The Creator of heaven and earth, stars and skies, and the entire universe. He knows each and every one of us more deeply than we could ever know ourselves. Cannot a God this powerful and creative fulfill any promise that He makes or answer any prayer on His timing? Doesn’t a God this omniscient know what’s best for us?
God gives us these periods of waiting because He wants us to grow closer to Him. He wants us to learn endurance because when we have no endurance, we have no hope without Him. We have to rely on what God has spoken to us rather than what we are able to see. The God of the universe is so much bigger than anything we can imagine. He knows what He’s doing and He wants us to simply surrender our anxious hearts to Him and trust that He will come through.
If you are waiting on God right now, if you feel like He hasn’t answered you or isn’t listening to what you are saying, He may be trying to teach you something. There are many things you can put into practice when you are waiting on God, and these are just a few that will help you grow during your season of waiting. Remember, God didn’t give us seasons of waiting to waste time – every season has a purpose, and He wants you to take advantage of the wait.
- Put your hope in Him alone.
Psalms 130:5 (CSB)
“I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in His word.”
It’s easy to be in and of this world. But putting our hope in temporary, mortal things can be a dangerous temptation. When we put all of our hope in a spouse loving us, a friend helping us, or a doctor healing us, we put ourselves at risk of being disappointed in the end. Putting our hope in Christ alone gives us strength and confidence during our seasons of waiting and reassures us that he will NEVER let us down.
In the PCC original song, Satisfy, the lyrics say “But no matter where I run, I find that the only one who quiets this heart is you.” If we can truly surrender every anxious thought, every worry we have, and put our hope only in Christ during seasons of waiting, we will find a peace and comfort that the things of this world will never give us.
2. Pray without ceasing.
2 Timothy 1:3 (CSB)
“I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.”
When we feel like God isn’t answering our prayers, it can be easy for us to simply stop praying. It’s human nature to not want to believe unless we can see it happening in front of our very eyes. To pray without ceasing, especially when it feels like God isn’t listening, is one of the most important things we can do to grow in our relationship with God during seasons of waiting. God always hears our prayers and never leaves our side, even when it feels like He’s distant.
While in a season of waiting, take this time that God has given you as a gift. We can never stop thanking God for all that He has already done for us and everything He has given us. Take this season of waiting to praise Him for how He has already moved. He may not move or answer your prayers on your timing or in the way you expect, but He will bring goodness to your life when you spend the wait in prayer.
3. Live with a stubborn faith.
Hebrews 10:23 (CSB)
“Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful.”
Having a stubborn faith means having a faith that never wavers. It is a faith that is rooted in God and all that He has promised, and one that isn’t easily shaken. Never stop serving or seeking God, always keep your eyes and praise on Him alone, and remember that God loves to move suddenly and unexpectedly. Don’t wait for Him to move – praise Him and thank Him despite the circumstances.
(Acts 16, paraphrased) Paul and Silas from the New Testament knew a lot about waiting and how to do it well. As they were doing the Lord’s work in Acts 16, they were beaten and arrested. The jailer was ordered to put them both in the inner prison (the dungeon) and to ensure that they were securely locked up. It would have been very easy for Paul and Silas to give up and be angry with God for not showing up to help them when they needed it, but instead, the two of them began singing and praying to God, praising Him for all that He had done. God heard them and suddenly, an earthquake came and the prison doors were opened.
Paul and Silas were thrown in jail and even that didn’t shake their faith in the slightest – and God showed up for them! Have a stubborn faith that never fails, and God will move in amazing ways.
Embrace life’s waiting periods as God wants us to. Remember how God has come through before, and that He will come through again. Focus on His faithfulness and find peace in the fact that He knows what He’s doing. Live into the wait, remembering that God knows what’s best for you. Just like the boy and the cocoon, He doesn’t want us to rush His timing. The caterpillar grows while it’s in the cocoon, and once it’s ready, it becomes a butterfly, able to spread its beautiful wings. Growth happens during the waiting period, and goodness comes when we allow God to move in His own time. Even when it’s hard to see, we have to trust that He is still there, and He is still moving in incredible ways.