I spent years of my life feeling like I was just existing. Barely getting through each day. Just surviving through each moment.
I spent years feeling like I wasn't achieving anything, just going through the motions. I didn't realise how much I was achieving, in loving my child, teaching my child, being there for my child, guarding my child, protecting my child, praying over my child, worshipping with my child, doing life with my child. I didn't see all of that as significant because I didn't feel victorious. I felt defeated and I fought against it every day.
How many times I cried out to God, “How long, Lord? How long?!”
Habakkuk asked this regarding the threat to Israel. David asked this regarding the threat from Saul, wondering when God would fulfil His own promise to the future king. Hannah asked this regarding her threat of remaining childless. Abigail probably asked this regarding the threat of living with her abusive first husband! God even asked this about the children of Israel in Numbers 14:11, saying to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?” (NIV)
When I asked God this question in my own on-going turmoil of feeling unsafe, fighting for my child, never knowing what the future held, having lost everything and becoming so weary, He would mostly say, “Be patient and wait on me.”
For a long time, I didn’t know what that really meant. I just felt fed up. It was frustrating and often times I felt forgotten. How could I 'feel' God's presence if I didn't 'see' it?
I saw waiting on God as a passive thing. But I finally realised waiting on God is an intentional thing.
Waiting with patience is about developing long-suffering, which is about compassion, which is about tender-heartedness, which is about selflessness, which is about meekness, which is about surrender, which is about trust, which is about faith, which is about hope, which is about belief, which is about the future, which is about intentional living!
Our intentional waiting eventually leads to our intentional living.
In my intentional waiting, I see my life belonging in the work of the now - not in the future, but toward the future, and the hope God is calling me into.
Scriptures continue to provide inspiration and promise me that comfort.
Proverbs 23:18 (AMP)
For surely there is a hope (and a reward), and your future and expectation will not be cut off.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future… I will restore your fortunes… and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Habakkuk 2:3 (CEV)
At the time I have decided, my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting – it will happen!
What do we do while we wait?
We keep hope alive and believe in what we don't see but know in our hearts to be true. We confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts. We press into the knowledge and the character of God. We allow Him to keep hope in our heart to become what He wants so that He can take us to where we’re going and fulfil His plans.
Deuteronomy 1:30-31 (NIV)
The Lord your God who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
And we keep praying.
Ephesians 6:18 (BSB)
Pray in the Spirit at all times with every kind of prayer and petition.
God doesn’t want us to just exist. Even when we're in a hiding period, or a resting phase, or a transitional season where we're changing on the inside: seasons where there’s not much going on to outside observation – God wants us to believe in His goodness, and know that He remembers us. That means He's working on our behalf. He wants to teach us of His love. He wants to have a relationship with you and I that is not based on what He can do for us, but on who we are for each other. The struggles of our lives are not a reflection of God’s failed love. Struggles are part of living in a world that is tangled up in sin. It has rot within. The only way we can overcome it, is believing in the divine redemption of the God who made us, through Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT)
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
In the deceptively quiet seasons, there is still so much going on in the spiritual. I recall a conversation God had with me.
You see me do lots of significant “smaller” things (that you need), and you know I’m “working” because you base it on what you see. But you’re waiting for a “big” thing in faith that you haven’t seen - that you want to see and experience.
My reminder to you is that your prayers, fasting, praise in the rocky places, have all had their effect and STOPPED a lot of the devil’s work that you’ve not been aware of. You have no idea what might have been that the devil wanted, if you weren’t being diligent in prayer, and yielding to me. Think about that!
That caught my breath. I’d never thought about the effect of my prayers that way before.
Prayer isn’t just about what God can affect in the positive for our good, but it's also about what He’s preventing from taking effect in the negative that the devil has set up for evil against us that we are never aware of.
How we run to God in all things, and believe in His goodness and sovereignty can determine our destiny!
Because there is so much unseen going on, it’s essential that we’re quiet and allowing God to grow us. It’s essential that we do not rail at God and become petulant and pouty and distressed. (Some of us have perfected that behaviour.)
Because there’s a re-set going on. There’s a place of adjusting happening. There’s a new mindset being established. There are false beliefs being realised and put aside. There are new perspectives and attitudes that are needing to be reassessed. A re-ordering is occurring. All of this has a rebound effect in the spiritual dimension. It's not just happening inside our heads and our hearts. Our internal changes bring about external changes of behaviour and confessions that impact the spiritual. God has a strategy in place that will cause all things to work for good and not for evil if we love Him and fix our attention on Him, and follow His lead. Those things come as we trust wholly in He who gives us our life and breath.
We’re never to sit dormant, inactive, as if there’s nothing going on and nothing to do. In those times, there’s so much to be done, and understood, and committed to. But nobody else can take part; this is between you and God.
God wants us to search for Him with all our heart and mind in these times. When we do, His response is to reveal His secrets to us (Psalm 25:14). He is waiting to share His vision with us so that we know where we're going!
Waiting was something I learned to pursue God in.
At first, I felt like I was just existing through my embarrassment and failure about how my life had brought me low. I learned slowly, that I was being humbled.
At first, I felt like I was just existing through my pain and the trials and the testing. I learned slowly, that I was being refined.
At first, I felt like I was just existing in the valley because I didn’t know where the way out was, despite searching. I learned slowly, that I could speak to those dry bones (Ezekiel 37) and GOD would cause the grave that had swallowed my life, to open its mouth and give it back to me!
I learned slowly, that I could listen to His revelations to me, about me and my son and our family and the future - and I could persistently believe. Gradually, I began to see a bigger picture. A way forward that was of God's making.
There was a lot He was prepared to tell me – if I was prepared to be quiet. I had to agree to be surrendered, humbled, broken, and restored in His plans for me.
There was a lot He was prepared to tell me – if I was prepared to listen and be quiet. I began to prophecy the word of God over my own life - not just 'naming and claiming', but birthed in my spirit, with faith built into my heart through His Word. I began to be able to say thank you to God for each new day. (At first it was just an obedient act - I wasn't particularly thankful. But I knew the bible told me to be. So I decided I would be.)
This was no longer existing. This had purpose.
This is what God wants for us. To know that He wants us to really LIVE through every struggle and strife and trial and test - and be thankful for the molding and building process. This is all for a reason and a purpose in a future that lies ahead of us. Part of the reason we don't see that hopeful future, I believe, is we're simply unable to! God has more than we can hope for or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
“Nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Jesus Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) (KJV)
We need to ask God to help us see the future He has for us. Then... What purpose! What gain! What incentive!