It was 4 o'clock in the morning & I could hear the rain falling outside. I'd been awake for hours - unable to sleep because of the unrest inside me. I crept out from underneath my mosquito net & knelt down on the dusty, wooden floorboards. What was I doing here? I'd come to Tonga, thinking I would be able to give so much. Instead I was so broken & empty inside, there was nothing to give. Like I had done so many times before, I cried out to God. 'I need You. Please help me. Please take this burden away. Take this darkness from me.' & then I fell silent, waiting. I wanted to be whole, I wanted to be a free & happy person. I knew this was something bigger than I was capable of fixing. And so, like I felt I'd been doing for so long, I waited.
We are all waiting for something. Constrained by the limits of time, we spend our lives waiting. Every day we find ourselves waiting for a red light to turn green, stuck in a long queue at the supermarket, looking forward to the time when our toddler no longer needs to be in nappies. All trivial stuff. But what about the bigger things? The young lady waiting to see if the invasive & painful surgeries, chemotherapy & radiation treatments have been successful, a couple, trying to conceive, anxiously waiting & hoping that this will be the month, an elderly couple having lived a long, hard life, tired now, just waiting . . .
I have learned that there is nothing quite like sharing the company of a couple of busy preschoolers all day, to make me realize I really am not a very patient person. I seem to be endlessly waiting for them - and on them! However, I know that in order for them to learn, sometimes I have to allow them to work things out for themselves & then practice over and over and over and over . . . . & sometimes that takes a LOT of patience! But we expect that, right? They are just little people after all.
Waiting for God is a whole other story. The way I see it He's God Almighty. All-knowing, all-present, & most importantly all-powerful God! He can do anything. At the snap of His fingers . . . He doesn't even have to snap His fingers & its done. And I'm His child, right? So, its not unreasonable to suggest that any kind, loving parent would give their kid what they need . . . is it? I'm not even talking about wants - I mean, I get that if I ask Him to let me win the Lotto, or to randomly be given some flashy new car when the one I have is just fine, that maybe He's not going to give it to me. But what about when we come to God in genuine need - asking for healing from an illness, some kind of intervention in a marriage that is going under, help when we don't even know how we will pay the bills this week . . .and instead of seeing Him answer the way any good parent should, we find silence and are left waiting.
In those times of waiting, I think we have three choices. Firstly, we can throw our hands up in frustration & disgust & walk away. In this instance I have found myself overcome by a sense of hopelessness & dismay and anger towards God. 'I'm nothing to Him. He doesn't care about me. He's sitting there in His lofty heights & has forgotten I even exist.'
We can try to force His hand, attempting to manipulate Him into making a move. 'Come on, can't You see I need this? Don't You love me? If You really loved me, You'd do something!'
There is a third option. And that's to keep on waiting. When you are waiting for something that you NEED, that can actually be a very difficult, even painful experience. Why would we keep waiting? Why should we keep trusting? What is there to hold onto when we all we can do is wait?
Isaiah 30 v 18 - Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!
Psalm 40 v 1 - I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.
Isaiah 64 v 4 - Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.
It can be hard waiting, especially when we can't see how things will work out, when we are hurting, when we have been waiting for so long. But when we remember Who He is, a God of love & compassion who listens to His children, we can wait knowing that He won't let us down. Even though our circumstances would suggest otherwise, we can rest in Him, knowing that He will be faithful to come through.
Habakkuk 3 v 16b - 17 - . . . Yet I will wait patiently . . . though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
Psalm 5 v 3 - In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
Micah 7 v 7 - But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour; MY GOD WILL HEAR ME.
As I knelt on the floor in the darkness, I wondered if God even heard my cry, if He would ever take away the hurting. I opened my Bible & stumbled on this glimmer of hope - Psalm 118 v 5 - In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free. It has been a long & difficult journey but He has been faithful to me, bringing healing & lifting me out of the darkness. And I believe that He is a kind & loving parent who longs to give His kids what we need, in His time.
Ecclesiastes 3 v 11 - He has made all things beautiful in His time.
Recently I heard international speaker, Joel Holm speak on 'Waiting for God' which has helped me further my understanding on the subject & helped shape my ideas, expressed here. If you want to learn more from this awesome guy here's a link to his own blog. www.starthope.com