The Power of Waiting

Waiting is hard.  It is a rare person who actually enjoys waiting.  (The lone exception I can think of is Brad Paisley, according to his song “Waitin’ On A Woman.”)

Waiting seems to be especially hard when we have received a word or calling from the Lord, giving us some direction and vision for our lives.  We tend to want to just dive in and begin.  But what we often miss is that God reveals something to us so that we will begin to pray and journey towards it.  He is giving us what some call a “preferred prophetic future” – but that’s no guarantee that we will arrive there.  There is effort required on our part, and change and growth that we need to experience.  Almost always, when God calls us to something, it requires a journey of transformation on our part, and often, that journey can take us years.

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This is where impatience can get us into trouble.  In our excitement, we can jump the gun on God.  We can try to force something to happen – something that we’re not spiritually or emotionally ready for yet.

Joseph is a great example of this in Scripture, as is Moses.  Joseph received dreams from God of being a leader, but he unwisely shared those dreams and tried to lord it over his brothers.  He wasn’t ready to lead, and it took years of humbling experiences for him to get to the place where he was ready to actually lead.  God had work to do in him.  In Moses’ case, he wanted to see his people set free from Egypt, but instead of waiting on God’s plan, he took matters into his own hands and murdered an Egyptian.  It took 40 years in the desert for him to be prepared to be the leader that he needed to be.

There are some positive examples in Scripture of the power of patience.  Consider these two:

  • David was anointed to be the future king of Israel, and spent years serving Saul and then running from Saul for his life before he actually walked into God’s calling as king.
  • Jesus spent 29 years of His life in obscurity before He stepped into public ministry.  He then spent 3 years in the public eye before His death and resurrection.

In Anonymous…Jesus’ Hidden Years…And Yours, Alicia Britt Chole points out that most of Jesus’s life was unseen – anonymous to us.  Only 4 of the gospels’ 89 chapters offer any details on Jesus’ childhood and life before ministry, and those details are scant.

She puts it this way:  “Our enthusiastic declarations that we want to ‘be like Jesus’ reference Jesus’ visible years . . . with a few notable exceptions. In these statements we are not saying, ‘I want to subject my body, spirit, and mind to an extended wilderness experience,’ or, ‘I want to be brutally beaten, suffer excruciating pain, and be murdered at the hands of mocking sinners.’ No. Our desire to ‘be like Jesus’ contains several exemption clauses, not the least of which are Jesus’ hidden years, desert experiences, temptations, tortures, and crucifixion. We will pass on those, thank you. What we are most definitely interested in, however, is Jesus’ character and authority. How we long to see his character and authority transform this broken world through our lives! But Jesus’ character and authority are not isolated entities. They are not disconnected commodities we can purchase at a discount. Jesus’ character and authority come with Jesus’ life, 90 percent of which was lived in quiet anonymity. ‘What would Jesus do?’ we ask sincerely (in word and song, on T-shirts and in bracelets). Well, for starters, he embraced a life of hiddenness. As we will soon see, Jesus’ hidden years empowered him to live an eternally fruitful life.” (- Chole, Alicia Britt. Anonymous: Jesus’ hidden years…and yours (Kindle Locations 239-241). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)

Waiting is so difficult.  And yet…God can use our times of waiting to do deep work in us, to prepare us, to transform us.  As I go through this season of waiting myself, I am reminded that my past seasons of waiting prepared me for life and ministry opportunities in ways that I had never imagined.

Are you waiting?  If so, be patient.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Don’t try to force God’s hand.  Trust Him, and while you’re waiting, pursue Him with all that you are.

You will be amazed one day at what He has accomplished in you while you were patient.

Moving On

I’ve spent most of the month of March blogging about issues surrounding questions like these:

  • Why are there times that God feels far away, and it feels like He doesn’t care?
  • Why is there suffering in the world?
  • Why are there times when I feel Jesus has left me behind and I feel I am alone, and forgotten?
  • Why is it in a season of trial or trying to better your future He seems absent?

I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, although we’ve explored some different aspects of these questions.  We’ve talked about the foundational truths that God loves each of us, and God is always good.

And now, it’s time to move on.

Not because we have all the answers; not because I have all the answers to the questions in my personal life; but because I need to keep my eyes on my Father.

It’s been good for me to explore these issues.  (I hope it’s been helpful and thought-provoking for you too.)  Some of them are things that I’m still dealing with and working through in my personal life.  But I also need to guard my heart and make sure my focus isn’t consistently on problems.  And it’s important for me to help you guard your hearts.  At the beginning of this month, I wrote about the importance of keeping our eyes on God, on His goodness, and on focusing on gratitude for what He is doing rather than finding offense at what He has not done.  And so, for the time being, I’m going to move on in my blogging to some different issues.

For reference, here are the links to this past month’s blogs should you wish to go back and re-visit any of them:

On Wednesday, we’ll move on to new subject matter.  By the way, if you have a question you’d like to see me blog about or an issue you’d like to see me address, please shoot me an email at don@donwhunter.com or by filling in the form at the bottom of this post.

In the meantime, may God meet you wherever you are, in whatever questions you have, whatever challenges you are facing.


 

Curse God or Bless God?

Yesterday, I came across a Facebook post from one of my friends that said this:  Why are people so scared to curse God when something tragic happens, yet praise him when something wonderful happens?”  That’s a question that a lot of people have been asking, in similar or different words, for a very long time.  In fact, I think it’s a great question, because it’s so real and raw and honest.

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For me, the answer is that I’m NOT scared to curse God.  I know He’s big enough to handle that.  I know that on the cross, Jesus took on the curses of sin, sickness, and death for me.  So I’m not scared to curse God – it’s not that I would curse Him except I’m terrified of a lightning bolt from the sky or the ground opening up to swallow me if I did curse Him.  The issue for me is that I don’t WANT to curse Him.

You see, I know that all the problems, tragedies, and terrible stuff in my life is NOT from God.  So why would I curse Him, when He isn’t the source?  He is good, and every thing comes only from Him.  He is not the source of tragedies and problems and diseases and horrific events.  He is good; He is the very definition of love.  He cannot be the source of, or give, something that He does not have.

There are actually 3 very simple sources of all the problems, tragedies, and horrific things in this world:

  1. We live in a world that has been broken by sin.  Therefore, we live in an environment that is broken.  Because of this, there will always be tragedies and horrific events and diseases until Jesus returns and “re-sets” everything by making all things new.  There will be accidents with no one at fault and there will be natural disasters and we will age and our bodies will deteriorate and we will become diseased and broken, because that is the nature of the world we live in right now.
  2. We live in a world that is populated by people who have been broken by sin.  We are all born with a sinful nature.  We all make poor choices at times, we all sin at times.  And our sins and poor choices have consequences – sometimes for us, sometimes for others, sometimes both.  Murder, rape, genocide, wars, terrorist attacks – these are not because of God, but because people have chosen to indulge their own hatred, selfishness, and evil desires.
  3. We live in a world that is experiencing an ongoing, full-out, devastating war.  We miss that fact because it is a spiritual battle.  But there is an enemy whose sole purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy.  He is a powerful spiritual enemy that we cannot see, but that makes him no less real.  He is the voice that whispers “go ahead and do it” when the behavior is destructive.  He is the one who tells us “this is God’s fault” when, in fact, God gives only good things.  He is the one who stirs nations to battle and conquest, who lies about the very nature of our world and of God, and who knows that if you are a follower of Jesus, he cannot take you to hell and so he will do everything he can right now to make your life a living hell.  He is the one who wants to get your eyes off of Jesus and onto yourself and your problems.

So…I’m not scared to curse God.  But there is no need to curse Him.  He is not the source of my problems.  He is love, and He loves me no matter what, and He loves you no matter what. 

Can I just be raw for a moment?  My family and I are in a season where we feel like the hits keep coming.  My wife hasn’t worked in a year and a half because she has had to have 2 surgeries on her neck, and the recovery process has been long and tedious and interrupted by setbacks.  My daughter has experienced having to deal with loss and moving home and starting over.  I have something very wrong with my body.  Some days, I don’t even want to get up, or feel like I can do what I have on my schedule.  I expected answers last week, and all I got were more questions.  There’s a problem in my body somewhere, but I don’t know where it is or what it is, and that’s pretty scary.  I’m stuck waiting for test results, for next steps, for future tests.  In the midst of this, my uncle, who is just a few years older than me, is on life support in Pittsburgh with a very poor prognosis.  He may never regain consciousness.  Uncertainty and waiting is our life right now.

But I’m not complaining, and I’m not angry with God.  I know people who are going through far more than me, and have been dealing with things for far longer than me.  I look at what I’m dealing with, and then I look at what I still have – God loves me, God is with me, and God is for me.  My family loves me, and we’re in this together.  I have amazing friends who love me and check on me and pray for me.  My church family is patient with me, prays for me, and loves my family and I.  So I look at all that, and I don’t have any desire to curse God.  He’s not my problem, and He’s not the source of my problems.  I will continue to bless Him, and I will continue to press in to Him.  Because I need Him more than ever.


If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.  A paperback version will soon be available.

In the Waiting

When it comes to feeling forgotten by God, to dealing with painful situations, to seeking answers to nagging questions and doubts, to suffering, and to other difficult life issues, waiting is no fun.  In fact, it can often feel like waiting increases the anxiety, the stress, and the pain of the situation.  Our minds tend to go places when we have to wait – worst-case scenarios, imaginary conversations, the most scary of “what-if’s.”  But there is a better way.

As I’ve dealt with my current physical issues, I’ve tried to walk a line in this blog between being vulnerable about some of the things I’m going through while avoiding either making it all about me or turning this into a “woe is me” kind of emotional purge.  (Hopefully I’ve been somewhat successful in that.  It’s a little hard sometimes to be objective about your own stuff!)

Yesterday, I underwent some procedures/testing that I had been waiting on for a couple of weeks, hoping for some simple, obvious answers to my problems.  But it didn’t work out that way.  Instead, some fairly serious things were ruled out; some new possibilities were introduced; and some other potential serious issues were left unanswered, pending biopsy results.  So here I am – a little further on the journey, but still waiting.

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What do you do when you’re in a place like that?  There’s nothing you can do to control it; nothing you can do to change it.  You just have to wait.

Here’s the thing about waiting – it’s not optional.  It’s a part of life.  Sometimes it’s harder than at other times, but it is unavoidable.

We often cannot choose whether or not we have to wait.  But we can always choose HOW we wait.  No matter the circumstances.

My perspective on waiting has changed as I’ve observed friends who have had to wait for some very hard things.  Friends who have waited for medical diagnosis after attempted solution after trips to the ER after more diagnoses after more attempted solutions after more trips to the ER in what has seemed like an endless cycle.  Friends who have waited for God’s direct healing intervention.  Other friends who have endured most of their family battling debilitating illnesses over a period of several years.  Friends who have cried out to God for healing in their marriages, done everything they could to fight for reconciliation, only to see their lifelong partner walk away without a backwards glance.  Friends who have suffered great financial losses, who have lost jobs, who have had their worlds turned upside down in one way or another.  All of them people who were asking God to change their circumstances; all of them people who waited and waited and waited.  And as I prayed with them and prayed for them, I watched almost every single one of them wait with grace, with gratitude for what they DID have rather than bitterness over what they did NOT have.  And I learned from their example.

As I am forced to wait, I remember my friends and they spur me on to wait with gratitude, to trust God no matter what.

I’ve also learned from the psalms.  I love the example of David as a person who faced many disappointments and challenges in life.  Here was a man who was anointed king of Israel and then spent fifteen years running for his life before he was recognized as king by his own tribe.  It was another seven years – twenty-two years total – before he was actually crowned king of all Israel.  Talk about waiting!  And not just waiting, but waiting while on the run.  Waiting and choosing to honor the man who wanted him dead, the man whose position he had been promised by God.  Waiting for years and years and years with unfulfilled promises from God – and in all that time, he never took offense at God. 

When you read the psalms that David wrote during that time, you find that David cried out to God; he prayed for deliverance; he prayed for vengeance on his enemies; he asked God “why”; he was honest – even brutally honest – with God.  But he never took offense at God.  He never turned away from God.  He kept trusting God and believing the best of God.  He kept finding his rest, his strength, his security, and his hope in God.

That’s the choice we face.  You’ve no doubt heard it said that suffering can make us better or it can make us bitter.  In David’s case, it prepared him to become king.  That’s because of the way in which David waited on the Lord through all of his trials.

I don’t know about you, but that’s how I want to learn to wait. 

The good news is that it’s never too late to start.  Whatever we may be enduring, however difficult, however uncertain, however long we’ve had to wait – God is always waiting on us to turn to Him, to trust in Him.

And so this morning, as I wait, I pray words that David wrote somewhere around 3000 years ago.  If you are waiting today, I encourage you to join me:  “I stand silently to listen for the One I love, waiting as long as it takes for the Lord to rescue me.  For God alone has become my Savior.  He alone is my Safe Place; His wrap-around presence always protects me.  For he is my Champion Defender; there’s no risk of failure with God.  So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?   Psalms 62:1-2 (Psalms:The Passion Translation)


If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.  A paperback version will soon be available.