What do you do when you’re waiting for something to happen?
Last month, after two years of searching – with the last six of those months feeling pretty desperate – I started a part time job I love. As Kedron and I began to discuss the possibility of me going back to work, we had a criteria list a mile long. It needed to be a job that would use my skills and give me opportunities to grow, something close to home, flexible, part time, and one that would allow me to still write and speak.
It felt impossible. As stressful personal situations piled up (like not having a washer for two months), I began to think I would never find a job. I almost gave up and took whatever I could find, even if it didn’t fit the list.
The Bible is filled with examples of what not to do while waiting. I’m so glad God gave us examples of people struggling and failing, because that’s so often me. Yet God graciously reaches down, offers His help, and allows people return to Him.
Here are 3 things I learned not to do while waiting for what’s next. If you’re struggling with any of these, you are in good company!
Don’t return to your old life.
After losing their husbands, Naomi and her daughter-in-laws Ruth and Orpah faced a heartbreaking and unknown future. The life they had all dreamed of had vanished. Orpah returned to her old life with her Moabite family and their gods. We hear nothing more of Orpah. No decision was easy in her situation, but returning to the comfort of a familiar life held the stronger pull. When facing the unknown, the easy choice may be the old life, but that doesn’t mean it is the best choice. (See Ruth 4 to see where Ruth’s choice led.)
Don’t grumble and complain.
The Israelites had only been out of slavery in Egypt for a month and a half when they started complaining.
“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” – Exodus 16:3
Little did they know how long they would have to wait to get to the Promised Land, and their impatient, rebellious attitudes only made the wait longer. Um, ouch. They needed to grow, get to know God, and learn to trust Him to provide. I’m way more like the Israelites than I would ever want to admit.
Don’t take matters into your own hands.
Abraham and Sarah had waited and waited for God to fulfill His promise for a child. Eventually, they thought maybe what God really meant was they would have a child through Sarah’s maid Hagar (Genesis 16). Isn’t it amazing how often we take our own ideas and think surely this is what God really meant? Taking matters into your own hands and figuring out your own plan only brings heartache.
Many of us wait on the sidelines for much longer than we’d ever want.
Maybe you’re job hunting and door after door is closing. Maybe you’ve been praying for a wayward child for years. Maybe you’re pursuing something you feel God has called you to – publishing a book, starting a ministry, building a business – but you keep running into roadblock after roadblock.
How we wait matters. What we do and how we respond to this period of waiting can grow our character, bring us closer to God, and deepen our faith. Or it can do the opposite.
How will you wait?