Have you ever been in a season of waiting? I have. Many, many times. And for many different reasons as well. You would think after my first few seasons of waiting for something, I would wise up and learn the lessons quickly. I have noticed in my own life that some lessons take time to learn, and sometimes I have to learn that lesson again and again.
As I have walked with God during these hard seasons, I have learned truths that help me see what He’s doing in and through me. If you find yourself in a season of waiting, wondering like David, “How long Oh Lord?” (Psalms 13), then this is for you. God has wonderful things in store for you, there are blessings on the other side of this trial. The night season will not last forever. Morning is coming! The sun always rises after the darkest part of night – keep on pressing on, for He will come to deliver you.
We know, as the scriptures say, He is a good God, and delights in giving gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). So, why does God make us wait?
1- Because God doesn’t want spoiled children
Oof. I’ve been there. Not only have I acted like a spoiled, petulant child with God (If you truly loved me, then you would give me this Thing!), but now I have wonderful little toddlers of my own to show me how being spoiled is an unattractive character flaw. When my daughter throws temper tantrums because she doesn’t want to eat what we’re eating for dinner, I don’t want to be around her. I don’t want to give her what she wants. And I don’t want to give in to her every whim, because I want what's best for her.
Well, what if that’s how God sees my temper tantrums? And believe me, I’ve had some ugly ones. The ones where there’s swearing involved. Why would God give in to me when I’m showing him such ugly character qualities? He wants those burned out of us. He loves us too much to leave us spoiled, to leave us rotten.
Let’s not despise the chastening when it comes, but delight in a God that loves us too much to leave something ugly in our hearts. He instead turns us into people others can stand to be around (Hebrews 12:3-11). I don’t know about you, but I would hate to be a woman whose husband spends more time away from home than together with me. Or a mom that my children disrespect and my future daughter & sons-in-law despise. Instead, I want to be a woman that my husband can’t get enough of, and that my children run to, and that my future in-laws look to for counsel and wisdom. That woman requires the chastisement and correction that only God can provide.
2 – Because He wants our hearts to be for Him
God truly wants to bless us with every good thing, but He can’t bless us until our hearts are in a place where we desire Him more than we desire the blessing.
I have had many examples in my life where I had to get to a place of laying down my desires to the Lord, and I was truly in a place of “if this never happens, or you never bless with me this thing, then I not only accept that, but I will be ok without it.”
Then wouldn’t you know it, but the next day, or the next week, or a few months later, my prayer was answered. I had even stopped praying for it! Finally I was in a place of full surrender, and then God answered my prayer. Why? Because my heart had been turned from wanting The Thing to wanting Him more. And that’s all God wants of us. He so desires our hearts to be for Him, that if our desire for Something is greater than our desire for Him, than he has no choice but to keep us waiting until we can let go and trust Him with our Thing.
This is a silly example, but to me at the time it was a profound one, and one of my first lessons of letting something go and putting it at Jesus’ feet.
When I was in high school I so badly wanted to be from a wealthy family like many of the other girls in my class. I wanted the status symbol of designer clothing, shoes, and purses. Very Godly, I know.
For three years I prayed for a designer handbag, and this desire consumed me. Three years of wanting. And then one day, while standing in Target looking at a woman in front of me with a coach purse around her shoulder, I put it down at Jesus’ feet. Right then and there I said, “Lord, I no longer need this bag, and I don’t want to carry this desire anymore. I give it to you.” And that was it! I let it go.
The next day was my last day at my nanny job for the summer before college started, and my boss gave me a going away gift. It was a brand new Dooney & Bourke bag. I was speechless. For one, God had answered my long-awaited desire. Two, it came in an unexpected way, through an unexpected person. And three, it happened when my heart no longer desired it, but desired God more.
Isn’t that so like God? He so wants to be a giver, and to lavish us with gifts, but more importantly He wants us to know how much He loves us. Often we are caught up in wanting God to be our genie, to answer us, give us our 3 wishes (lol, as if 3 would be enough!). And all God wants is to answer our prayers and show us how great is His love for us.
But He wants our hearts first and foremost. If He just gave us the stuff then we would never surrender ourselves to Him, because we wouldn’t have to. Every time we put something at His feet, we give more of our selfish part away, and we take up His righteousness and His glory. We become more like Him.
By the way, I still have that bag. It’s worn out and faded. But it reminds me every time I see it that God wants my surrendered heart so that He can be a giver to me. I want that for me, too.
3 – Because He loves us and wants a relationship with us
When we’re praying for something, or waiting on the Lord, we spend so much time with Him. We talk with Him, pray with Him, shout at Him, but mostly, we spend time with Him. What happens when God answers our prayer? I find that I’m faithful for a while, and then I slowly drift away until the next crisis happens. God doesn’t want that for us. He wants a continual relationship with us.
Sometimes that means that our prayer for a certain thing won’t be answered immediately, or even for several years. He knows our hearts, and only He knows that if He answers it too soon, it will take us away from Him. So He holds out on answering our prayer until we will be safe stewards of His love for us and the gifts He gives us.
4 – Because waiting builds character
Something happens to us when we wait. We learn patience, and we learn kindness. We learn self-control. In essence, we become the fruits of the Spirit. I don’t know about you, but for me, when I’m waiting on the Lord, at first it’s hard. I’m easily angered and impatient. I get angry with God and shout at Him.
However, the longer I wait, the less impatient I become. Patience slowly grows in my heart. Then I start to learn self-control – I learn how to control my temper. I shout at God less, and I am quicker to ask for and receive forgiveness from Him. During my seasons of waiting, God burns down the yucky qualities He doesn’t like to see in His children, and from the ashes are born the fruits of the Spirit.
Beautiful character qualities are often forged in the hottest fires.
5 – Because sometimes there’s sin in our lives…
And we don’t realize that things have crept in that are a pain for our family members or friends, or are hurting us in some way. God loves us so much that he wants to deal with our sin. Ask Him in the wait, “Lord, what are you teaching me? What do I need to learn? Show me what needs to change in me!” God does not use accidents, He does not use diseases, but He will use His Word to chastise us and teach us, and sometimes disappointing circumstances. Only when we can come to the end of ourselves and say to Him, “Not my will, but yours. Not my way, but your way. Not my desire, but your desire for me…” then we will taste and see that He is good. (Psalms 34:8).
6 – Because sometimes the answer is No
There are only a handful of times that God truly said no to me. And I believe there are three parts to why God will say no to our prayer.
Because he has something so much better for us!
You know that saying, “God never closes a door, without opening a window!” I don’t agree with this statement, sort of. I believe when God closes a door, He opens a bigger door to a greater life. But if we haven’t learned the lessons He needs us to learn yet, then He waits to open the door. Because God wants His best for us, He will wait until we can steward His blessings well.
In my life, when I prayed for a relationship to work out and it didn’t, I was so disappointed. I thought I had met my future husband. Praise the Lord He closed that door! He not only closed that door, he moved that man to a different continent! If that’s not the definition of God slamming a door shut, I don’t know what is.
A year and a half later, He introduced me to my husband. I’m so thankful to be married to him today. He’s kindhearted, gentle, patient (good thing, too, cause we have 3 kids), loving, faithful, and the list could go on and on. In other words, God blessed me much more, with a better man suited for me. Now I’m glad He said no. Was I at the time? Absolutely not. But praise the Lord His ways are higher and He knows what I need better than me. (Isaiah 55:9).
Because sometimes the answer is no, but He changes our heart’s desire
Sometimes the answer is no, but while we’re praying for that thing, our desire for it changes. God places a new desire in our heart, a heavenly desire. And as we pray for this new thing He has brought our attention to, in time, He answers that prayer.
In other instances, He will completely eradicate the desire we had for the thing we were praying for. When this happens, we know whatever it was we wanted wasn’t His best and perfect will for our life.
Because sometimes the answer is still no
I have only experienced this a few times, and only one prayer stands out to me (which means my desire for those other Things are long gone). For 5 years I prayed that God would cure my best friend of her cancer. I don’t know why He didn’t, and I don’t understand the reason she died. I don’t think I ever will. Maybe He was sparing her from something in the future. I can’t pretend to know or to play God in this situation. What I do know is that I prayed for healing, and God didn’t answer my prayer.
But you know what? God gave me some really beautiful last few years with her. He arranged it so that we lived in the same state during the cancer years. He provided me with a job that allowed me to have Fridays off, and I was able to spend every Friday for a year driving her to her doctor appointments. She went into remission and was able to be my matron of honor in my wedding. And when God moved her to North Carolina, He moved me and my husband to Virginia and we had a few last visits before she went Home. Even though God said no, He still provided us with time to create wonderful memories that I hold on to.
This I know…
If our desire for the Thing remains after years of prayer and no answer has been given, yet, then we know He has us waiting for a reason. God wants children with beautiful hearts, and He wants to give us wonderful gifts. We can arrive at the end more quickly, or slowly, depending on our response to God when He asks us to wait on Him. I have found that when I am proud, stubborn, or angry, that I have to wait longer until these qualities are burned out of me. If I try to justify myself, and therefore condemn God and His righteousness, my trial is prolonged. Not until I come to the end of myself, and say to the Lord, “only you can answer my prayer” does He make a way for me. (Isaiah 43:19).
Are you in a season of waiting? Is God pressing on your heart? He will answer your prayer, He is faithful and just, and He never leaves you nor forsakes you. He is your God.