What do you do when you’re waiting for something to happen?
Whether it’s looking for a new job, waiting for a wayward child to come home, for a relationship to heal, for a house to sell…waiting can feel as dry and lifeless as an endless desert. We may be tempted to give up, lie down in the sand and not press on.
Late spring, I talked about 3 things not to do while waiting, with three great examples from the Bible.
But waiting doesn’t mean inaction. When tempted to give up hope, that’s when we need most to be “actively waiting.”
Once again, the Bible gives us great examples of those who actively waited in faith for God’s help and provision.
Here are 3 examples of what to do while waiting:
1. Pray Like Hannah.
In 1 Samuel, we find the story of Hannah, a childless wife of a man named Elkanah. Elkanah’s other wife had children, but Hannah was barren. Year after year when the family made their annual trip to worship and sacrifice to the Lord, Elkanah’s other wife provoked Hannah to the point that Hannah couldn’t eat. Elkanah loved Hannah dearly and would ask, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8).
One year, after yet another episode, “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.” (v. 10). In fact, Hannah was praying so intensely, the priest accused her of being drunk.
As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
When you are troubled and in anguish over what you are waiting for, pour out your soul to the Lord like Hannah. Hannah didn’t hold back any of her pain or emotion. She took it all to the Lord and laid it openly before Him.
2. Persevere Like Daniel.
Daniel’s entire life is one of perseverance. Taken into captivity as a young man and deported to Babylon, Daniel faithfully served God under foreign kings who were often hostile to those who worshiped the one true God. (Daniel in the lion’s den anyone?) Yet one of the most intriguing stories of Daniel’s perseverance came about when he was praying about a revelation he had received about a great war that was coming. We find this account in Daniel chapter 10.
Daniel was so disturbed about the revelation that he mourned for 3 weeks, and only ate simple food, and didn’t bathe or shave during that time (vv. 2-3). At the end of the 3 weeks, a man appeared to him, with a radiant face, flaming eyes, and a voice that sounded like a multitude (v. 4-6). When the man spoke, Daniel fell to the ground.
The angelic being had been sent to Daniel by God.
Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.
This account has always fascinated me. God had sent a messenger to reply to Daniel’s mourning, but Daniel had to wait, because some unseen battle in the spiritual realm was apparently going on…for 21 days. Whoa.
So often, we are waiting for answers, and we don’t know why. Sometimes we never know why. Yet Daniel persevered in seeking God’s face, even when the answer didn’t come right away.
3. Put on the Armor.
Waiting is exhausting–physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When we are exhausted, we are vulnerable to attack from the enemy.
Paul urges us in Ephesians 6 to put on the armor of God.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
The armor is a gift of protection that God gives to us. Putting on the armor draws us closer to Christ:
- Wrap yourself in the truth. v. 14 No matter what the enemy tells you about your situation, stay connected to God’s Words of Truth in the Bible.
- Wear the breastplate of righteousness. v. 14 Righteousness, or right-living, is associated with God’s Words. When worn down from waiting, we are to live in the light of what Jesus has done for us and continue to live by His Words.
- Have your feet ready to go and share the story of Jesus with others. v. 15 Nothing quite gets your mind off your own troubles like sharing good news with someone else!
- Take up the protecting shield of faith. v. 16
- Guard your mind with the helmet of salvation. v. 17 Never lose sight of what Jesus has done for you: He has the ultimate victory over sin and death!
- Carry the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God. v. 17 When I know I’m struggling the most, I keep a spiral bound notebook with me at all times containing truth from Scripture that I have written down.
- Pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. v. 18
Whatever you are waiting for, may you find hope and encouragement through prayer, perseverance, and putting on the armor.