In scripture, we consistently see God’s power at work in the lives of those he loves. We see his love, his goodness, his compassion, and even at times his discipline, as he intervenes on behalf of his children. We see him working deliverance for his people, setting them free, healing them, and blessing them.
And I think, sometimes, we forget that during those times, while waiting for deliverance, waiting for freedom, waiting for healing, they were doing just that — waiting. They did not know the end of the story. They did not yet see God’s intervention. They didn’t know how he was going to work things out for their good, how he was going to fulfill his promise to them.
So they waited.
Some waited well. They “strengthened themselves in the Lord,” as David did in 1 Samuel 30. They fixed their eyes on the Lord rather than their circumstances, they chose to trust him, not their emotions, and they were determined to walk by faith, not by sight.
Others waited, well, badly. They focused on their pain. They focused on their circumstances. They took matters into their own hands, afraid that God would fail them. And the results always proved tragic. The deliverance was delayed, their relationships damaged, and often, their testimonies tarnished.
I want to wait well.
I want to wait like David did, for God to deliver him from Saul, refusing to take matters into his own hands.
I want to wait like Hannah, who cried out to the Lord in her place of brokenness, and the Lord heard her.
I don’t want to wait like Abram and Sarah, who decided that God was taking too long, and decided to have a child through Hagar.
I want to wait like Joseph, who faithfully served the Lord by submitting to the authorities in his life with respect and humility, even when he was treated unfairly and things got worse instead of better.
I don’t want to wait like Jacob, who kept manipulating his family, his circumstances, and even tried to manipulate God, out of the fear that God would let him down.
I want to wait like Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel, who refused to move until God spoke to them and told them what to do.
But waiting is hard. It takes faith. It takes courage. It takes determination. It requires taking every thought captive, making it obedient to Christ. It requires looking beyond the pain of the moment and focusing on the hope found in God’s promises. It requires a consistent commitment to walk by faith, not sight. And that requires surrender.
It’s easy to say we’re surrendered when life is stable. It’s no big deal when relationships are good, when our jobs are secure, and when pain is minimal. But our surrender (or lack thereof) is truly proven when pain crashes in. Sometimes that pain is through a loss. Other times it’s financial. It could be relationship problems. It could be our health. Whatever form the pain comes at us in, it’s something we can’t control. And that terrifies us.
We like control. We crave control. Our first reaction when life starts to spin is find a way to fix it. Control. Manage it. Control. And when we can’t fix it, and can’t manage it, we block it out and begin to focus on what we can control in the moment (or at least, what we think we’re controlling).
I have discovered that God doesn’t just “allow” pain – he uses it, on purpose, in each and every one of us. There are some lessons that cannot be learned through ease and comfort. And there are some things we’ll never change, some sin we’ll never forsake, until God uses pain to get our attention. Therefore, pain is not just inevitable; it is necessary.
Our response to pain reveals what we truly believe about God.
Is God really good?
Does God really love me?
Is God really in control of my life? my family? my circumstances?
If we doubt any one of those three things we will fall into the trap of grasping for control, manipulating people, manipulating circumstances, and even manipulating God, in an effort to stabilize our emotions and our lives. Trusting in ourselves. Waiting badly.
But when we believe these things, we can wait well. We can surrender to God, and submit to what he’s doing in us and in our lives. We can take our hands off of the problem, and we can seek God instead of control, instead of us, instead of comfort and relief. We can find refuge in Him, find peace in him, and ultimately, experience his power in our lives through deliverance much quicker than when we take matters into our own hands.
It’s not easy to wait well, because in the moment of pain, when we choose what to believe, it’s so much easier to believe our emotions. It’s easy to believe our fear; it’s easy to believe our hurt; it’s easy to believe our anger. Believing the truth, believing God, is not about feelings or emotions. Rather, it’s a commitment that we must make, and continue to make.
I may not see it right now, but I know that God is good.
I may not feel it right now, but I know that God loves me.
This may not make sense right now, but I know that God is in control.
So I’m going to act as though it is true; I’m going to walk by faith, not by sight and not by feelings.
This is surrender in the real world.
It’s not easy; it’s not comfortable. But it’s entirely possible because of the wonder of God’s grace, the power God gives to do what God says. All you have to do is take that first step; choose to believe the truth. Choose surrender. Choose to wait well.
Isaiah 41 contains one of my favorite passages of scripture, one of great hope and encouragement.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12 Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
A few months ago as I was reading this passage, something jumped out at me that I’d not noticed before. In verse 10, the Lord promises to strengthen us with his right hand – which scripture uses in the context of strength and power. But in verse 13, we see that he promises to take us by our right hand. God takes our power. He takes our strength. He takes our method of control. Why? Because he loves us. Because he is good. Because he’s in control of the situation, and he doesn’t want us to mess it up, to experience more pain than necessary. He wants us to know he’s on our side. We don’t have to fear; he is with us. He is helping us. He is the one at work, and he knows what he’s doing.
And you know what else? His grip is strong. His right hand takes our right hand. And he’s not going to let us go.
It’s time for us to walk by faith, to stop fighting, stop controlling, and give God our right hand in surrender.
Waiting is never easy. But it can be good. Are you ready to wait well?
Anger, Anxiety, Bitterness, Circumstances, Emotions, Encouragement, Fear, Friendships, Hope, Joy, Love, Marriage, Obedience, Parenting, Peace, Personal Growth, Relationships, Resentment, Singleness, Surrender, Trials, Worship
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.