Why Waiting Is Good for You

On the floor in front of me, a fraying carpet strand held my gaze. “Don’t look up,” I whispered through gritted teeth. Pushing against the cold metal chair, I leaned forward and buried my nose in an outdated People magazine. The lower I hunched, the less pain I absorbed from this torture chamber known as the waiting room.

When I was struggling to get pregnant, I dreaded going to the gynecologist. The moment I set foot in the office, I got smacked in the face with glaring signs of what I didn’t have: moms patting their growing bellies, babies cooing or crying, sonograms whooshing with sounds of life. Even the clock in the exam room ticked incessant reminders that I was half-past due for motherhood.

I didn’t want to wait. Not here. Not for a baby. All I could think of was how much better life would be when this was over. When I could cradle my child. When I could sprint through the door and sob in the car.

I wanted out.

Stuck in the Now

Times of waiting make us itch for an exit. As we pray for a future hope—a spouse, a job, healing, restoration—we get discouraged, tired, bored, and, let’s be honest, a little grouchy. Think how deeply we’ve felt these emotions while staggering through the various crises of 2020. All of us anxiously await the day we can flip the calendar on this exhausting year.

Waiting seasons like this can drag us down to a pit of sorrow. The longer time lags, the more we question what God is doing, why He’s letting us flail around in the dark without a flicker of insight into His plans.

Because waiting can be painful, we dislike it. I think that’s normal. As humans, we’re both bound by finite timelines and created for eternity. In his book, Knowledge of the Holy, 1 A.W. Tozer describes how the image of God in us whispers hope that we’ll continue to exist after death. “To be made for eternity and forced to dwell in time is for mankind a tragedy of human proportions. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change.”

So we have this tension between our innate drive to live forever and our complete inability to control time. That helps explain why we dread waiting, because we yearn for a lasting goodness that can’t be found in a dying world. We join the groans of creation, longing to “be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21).

Desperation Leads to Dependence

Though the burden of waiting presses hard on our shoulders, God doesn’t always lift it when or how we expect. Sometimes He lets delays stick around like unwelcome house guests who invade our space and ignore our nonverbal cues shooing them out the door. He even goes so far as to say that waiting is good for us. “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lam. 3:26).

Because we kick and scream against uncertainty, we often miss the opportunity God provides in the wait. Not having what we want, when we want it deepens our dependence on the Lord. The things we grasp as we try to control our circumstances slip through our fingers like the sands of time. Drained of self-sufficiency, we’re compelled to seek better shelter through life’s pauses and setbacks.

David wrote several psalms when he was floundering through waiting seasons. Pursued by enemies, forced into hiding and swept close to death, David found peace and protection in the cleft of his Rock. Clinging to the Lord gave him courage to face ongoing threats. David still asked for deliverance, begging God to scoop him out of trouble, yet also praised God for His faithfulness and mercy in the midst of the wait. “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him” (Ps. 62:5).

Without waiting, we wouldn’t get to enjoy the warmth of being held by our eternal Father. If I hadn’t sat at the doctor’s office, waiting for my turn to become a mother, I wouldn’t have cried out to the Lord, desperate for comfort. It was there, during what felt like a never-ending delay, that I collapsed before God, and He became my refuge.

Hope for Tomorrow, Courage for Today

Though it can hurt, waiting is a gift. In our waiting, God blesses us—makes us happy—by proving His worthiness as our sustainer. He uses what, to us, seem like delays to relax our grip on circumstances and realize the freedom that comes with accepting His sovereignty.

Whatever waiting room you’re in right now—the hard situation that’s bringing you to your knees begging God for an escape—know that it’s not meant to torment you. Those who wait on the Lord are never put to shame. One day, Jesus will rescue you. Maybe here on earth. Maybe not until heaven. Until that day when faith becomes sight, you can take courage that He already paid the cost of redemption. And He’ll fulfill that payment fully when we see Him face to face.

Remember, the good Shepherd who leads you beside still waters is with you every day. Believe His promise that no matter how long it takes, He’ll finish the good work He started in you (Phil. 1:6). Let these words from the hymn “Moment by Moment” cheer your heart when the waiting feels endless and you need assurance of His care.

Never a heartache, and never a groan,
Never a teardrop, and never a moan;
Never a danger but there on the throne
Moment by moment He thinks of His own.

Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
Jesus, my Savior, abides with me still.

1 A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: the Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York, NY: Walker, 1996).

2 Daniel Webster Whittle, “Hymn: Moment By Moment,” hymnalnet RSS, accessed September 23, 2020, https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/486.

About the Author

Jenn Hesse

Jenn Hesse

Jenn Hesse is a writer, wife, and mother of three sons. She is the coauthor of a forthcoming book on infertility and serves as content director at a national infertility support ministry called Waiting in Hope. Jenn has a passion … read more …

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