When Waiting is Hard

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Whether big or small, it seems like we are constantly waiting on things. We wait to grow up. We wait for someone to open our texts. We wait to meet the person we might marry. We wait in line at the store. We wait for:

motivation,

healing,

reconciliation,

money,

and lots of other things, big and small.

But do we wait for faith? I’ve been convicted lately of a heart-restlessness, the kind that sends the body and mind into overdrive with list after buzzybee list. Let me take the cutesy description away and call it what it is: faithlessness.

It’s a matter of mess, and I’m guilty of addressing the messes I can fix as a way to ignore the bigger, deeper questions and messes that only our Savior can address. But truthfully, the biggest mess of all that I or the church can make is to run around in a constant state of anxious damage-control.

Jesus was really clear with Martha, who “was distracted with much serving,” that this behavior is a choice. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary (Luke 10:41 ESV).

Sometimes I hear that statement as an encouragement, a tender call to cast burdens aside, drop the toolbox, DIY kit, and pick up the one thing (my cross) and praise Him who suffered for our ability to walk.

Sometimes though that statement can get twisted by lies into a condemning cloud. If there’s only one thing I’m supposed to do, and I’m failing miserably at it; then that obviously means I’m a miserable failure, right?

Christ contrasted Martha’s situation to that of her sister Mary, “who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word” (verse 39) while Martha was distracted with serving. Jesus said that “Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

The good part. Part of what? It’s interesting that the Lord didn’t necessarily separate the two sisters’ actions, but rather grouped them together, as if service and being a student are two parts of the same.

In one sense, they couldn’t seem more opposite: one is completely active, while the other appears passive. Working vs. waiting. But Mary wasn’t just waiting for her sister to do all the work; she chose to engage her heart and mind with Jesus’ word. She was sitting. She was listening. She was focused.

No matter what things are on your To Do list, most of Western culture can relate to (or at least recognize) the restlessness of sitting down. Unless we have a screen in front of our eyes or some other means to occupy our mind (food, books etc.), anxiousness can set in quickly.

We want relief and results. But we don’t want to wait for God to bring about change.

We want answers and direction. But we don’t want to wait for God to give them.

We want, and we will keep wanting; but we can learn to worship in the waiting.

That’s another thing God has been convicting me of: we can and should worship Him while we wait. In the wasteland between things worth celebrating, my fleshly heart wants to become stingy and hoard its worship until the next good comes along.

If I stop to think about it, riding a rollercoaster into the pit of despair between hilltops of blessings both sounds and is exhausting. That’s not the way worship or gratitude works anyway. It’s much better to live from grace to grace (John 1:16); because His grace is the only way to live out the gospel when we’re at the edge of that hilltop about to free fall into unknowns. That’s the only way to praise a God of Light when circumstances are dark; to cling to His truth and way when temptations hook lies and pull hard.

Like Martha, we all need to be reminded to stop our rushing.

Let’s make it a practice to sit with our Lord, and learn how to wait well: 

I would have despaired unless I had believed

that I would see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD

Be strong, and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:13-14 NASB

This is a Psalm of David, a young man who spent ten years running for his life as a fugitive. That season of hardship was after God anointed him to be the next king of Israel. David had to wait for God to fulfill His promise; and while he waited, he cried out to and worshiped the LORD.

So when David instructs to “Be strong, and let your heart take courage,” he is aware that we don’t have it on our own. That’s OK, because what makes us courageous is trusting in God. We can receive courage from the Giver of all goodness, the master Conductor of all timing, and the Keeper of our hearts.

Joy's Profile Picture

Joy Knight was a 2014 intern, with degrees in English and Music. She of course loves good books and music, is a minor-league foodie and enjoys the outdoors. She started working fulltime on the Transform staff September 2014, where she seeks opportunities to serve the students and users of Precept through writing and other projects.

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