It’s more than a bad hair day and more than spilled milk. It’s one of “those” days, the ones you really do weep over, when wave after wave of some trial (new or old) sweeps over you as you struggle just to keep your head above water.
And just as you gain your feet, another waves swells up before you. In the midst of such trials, we can do little else than cry out for mercy, for deliverance.
Sometimes “those” days last longer than just a day or two, or even a week. Sometimes, we experience whole seasons of “those” days, whole seasons of trial, and illness, and heartache. Whole seasons of waiting on the Lord.
If you read regularly here, you know our family has been in the midst of such a season for a while now. I’ve been wanting to share with you all some of my “discussions” with the Lord about this spot He has us in, but I’ve honestly been confused about the message He’s trying to give me.
I don’t want to wallow in self-pity, but I do want to allow myself the grace to rest and recover when needed. I want to keep using those Grace-colored glasses He’s been teaching me about.
You see, it’s not just the practical and physical difficulties of a trial that make life on one of those days oh-so-difficult, but it’s the emotions that come along for the ride, too. I’m frustrated by the condition of my physical body and even by the condition of my fragile emotions. I’m feeling guilty that I cannot do the things I normally do, nor fill the roles I normally fill – mom, wife, friend, leader.
What I really wanted to give you was a how-to post: how to survive when Mom can’t be mom, but this is what came out instead…
How to Survive While You Are Waiting on the Lord
I do have a few ideas about that one, a few tips the Lord has been helping me with.
1. For instance, He’s been telling me to lower my expectations.
So what if the twins watch an extra hour of cartoons? So what if beds go unmade and the soccer shirts aren’t clean on game day? If at the of the day, we’re all fed and alive, then we’re surviving!
2. What about Teamwork – be a team with your spouse? Yes, that’s a good tip, too.
When I feel overwhelmed by circumstances in life, I often fight against my husband instead of with him. In return, I reap the added burden of marital strife to an already trying situation. So, teamwork is good, blaming my husband for my own limitations and frustrations is bad. Okay, I got that.
3. Resist Satan’s Lies – tip number three.
Of course, I know that in spite of my guilty feelings, I’m doing the best I can and that’s enough for the Lord. Of course I know that He promises to be my Deliverer.
But sometimes I just don’t want to wait for deliverance. I’d rather try to fix it myself, right?
Are you with me here?
4. Lean on the Lord for both physical and emotional strength. That’s another good one, right?
Chin up, soldier because God is on your side. If God is for us, who can be against us? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And all of the other platitudes we like to sprinkle about when someone is suffering a trial.
The Problem with Christian Platitudes for Those Who Are Waiting on the Lord
These statements and verses are all true – they really are -but sometimes they do little to comfort the weary soul.
Sometimes… instead of lifting us up, those verses and sayings make us feel like crummy Christians.
Because if I’m not “counting it all joy” every single day of this trial, then I’m once again failing somehow, am I not?
And what about “count your blessings,” which goes right along with “think of those less fortunate”? You know some days that really works for me. Most of the time, I can see all of the good things around me that the Lord has blessed me with. I can find the silver linings. I know that my temporary suffering pales in the face of what others have gone through before me, namely Jesus.
But other days I can count my blessings, think of others, and still feel frail. Some days I know I’m not clinging to joy, I’m not embracing peace, because I have no strength left to do so!
So while I sit and think on all of these good things I feel I should be doing to try to help myself in this season of trial, the waves grow all the stronger and more ominous around me.
Crashing, crashing, always crashing, this storm in my soul.
I feel like Jacob, wrestling with the Lord, and I wonder, what’s wrong with me?
Why can I not seem to overcome? Am I not obedient enough? Not trusting enough? Not hopeful enough? Have I sinned in some way I’m not aware of?
A Changed Perspective on Waiting on the Lord
Then, I read this post here about not having a formula for success in the midst of trial but just “hanging on for dear life” and this post here about resting in the mud, in the mess of it, because He’s willing to sit right there with us. I began to wonder if I was seeing it all wrong, if I was trying to earn favor rather than be willing to receive favor.
I’m beginning to hear a new song from the Lord, a refrain of comfort to my weary soul. His song tells of a Shelter in the storm, strength found less in doing and more in waiting, a peace gained not from a change in circumstance but from His very presence.
In my devotion time this week I feasted on these lines that seemed to be meant just for me:
“We must learn to wait on the Lord and look for His return…. As you wait on Him, you will discover that this attitude renews your spiritual strength, clears your perspective, and reduces your giant-sized problems to manageable size. Let David’s words become your marching orders: ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.’” [Excerpt from Joy of Living Bible Studies: Hebrews, pg. 102]
What I Learned from Studying the Word “Wait”
In the original language, this word wait is qavah (pronounced kaw-vaw’) and is a verb meaning to look for, to wait for, to hope for. I found it even more interesting that the original meaning was one of binding together by twisting, as in a rope. (And here I am, dangling at the end of mine.)
I found that this verb is very active, not an idle sitting by the wayside, but an expectant waiting. We are to actively be on the “look out” for the Lord to work on our behalf. While we wait, qavah, we are also to be strong.
The phrase “be strong” from the Hebrew word chazaq (prounounced khaw-zak’) is also a verb. In essence, this chazaq is an also act, something done rather than a state of being. It was used numerous times in the Old Testament to describe a scene of supernatural strength: David vs. Goliath, Samson’s final act, Joshua’s entrance into the Promised Land. [NASB, Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible]
So this being strong is an act that comes not from any natural or human means, but only from the Lord. Thus, it’s impossible for us to “be strong” in the chazaq sense on our own.
So, how does that look, practically speaking? I mean, how can I wait and be strong without striving and stressing?
I can be quick to meet Satan’s lies with truth from the Word. I can earnestly seek moments of joy in a day full of trials. I can watch to find His hand already at work in the situation and trust that it’s happening even if I can’t yet see it. I can speak words of hope.
I can earnestly seek moments of joy in a day full of trials. I can watch to find His hand already at work in the situation and trust that it’s happening even if I can’t yet see it. I can speak words of hope.
I can watch to find His hand already at work in the situation and trust that it’s happening even if I can’t yet see it. I can speak words of hope.
I can speak words of hope.
The Only Source of Strength While Waiting on the Lord
But it’s more than that, isn’t it? Because some days I don’t have it in me.
That’s the key right there – it’s not in me to wait and be strong. What is naturally in me is to despair, to cry “Mercy, Father, it’s too much!”
And maybe sometimes that’s just the best place to be: at the Father’s feet, completely undone, utterly dependent on Him alone. No strength of our own left. Completely at His mercy. Humbled and low-down. At the end of the proverbial rope.
I’ll be honest, that’s a really hard place to sit in.
I much prefer to jump up and busy myself doing something because at least then I feel useful. But what if that’s not what He desires? What if what He most desires is to hear me admit, I can’t do it, Father – I’m not capable – I need help?
I think the most difficult aspect of learning to walk a road of suffering is understanding when to “be still” and when to “soldier on.”
I still don’t have it figured out. I seem to pendulum swing between the two, trying to find that balance.
Some days I’m all “onward Christian soldiers” and others I’m moaning about like an Israelite, lost in the desert.
It’s all part of His work in progress in me.
So this is the heart of my struggle, really: what is it you require of me, Lord?
Here’s how I believe He’s answering me:
Daughter of mine, wait for Me. Listen for My voice. When it’s time to get up and walk, I will tell you. And when it’s time for you to sit and take rest at my feet, I will tell you. And when it’s time for me to carry you because you have absolutely nothing left to give, then I will carry you. Stop trying so hard and just rest in my embrace. No squirming now, not yet. Sit. Relax. Cry if you need to. Confess if you need to. Question if you need to. I’m big enough to handle all of that and more. Just let Me hold you because that’s all I really want. You, beloved daughter. I want you. Take heart; rescue WILL come, for I am the Faithful One, God of all Hope and Comfort. But for now, just wait.
Because the truth is that our Father God loves with a perfect love, so much more perfect than ours, and our best comfort is found in waiting on the Lord!
Which one of us mothers would look at wounded, heartbroken child and chide her for her tears? I’m not talking about tantrum tears or even repentance tears, but tears of helplessness and hurt. Does their sorrow not bring forth our very compassion?
And which one of us mothers would fail to come rushing to the aid of a child calling urgently for help? Which one of us would refuse to comfort and console? Which of us would leave that child to struggle alone?
We would not.
We cannot because our love compels us to respond. If this is the way we imperfect humans feel about our children, how much more so does our Father God have compassion for us, His beloved, chosen ones?
With that perspective, those crashing waves don’t seem so ominous anymore. They still knock me down from time to time, but maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly where I need to be.
Perhaps those waves of trial aren’t reaching up at my waist in order to suck me under and drown me, but to push me to a better shore. If I would just quit fighting them, give in, and ride the momentum, I’d find myself safely on the other side.
And there I can find the rest my soul is so desperate for.
My sister in Christ, if you’re struggling in the surf of suffering today, take heart.
You are not alone. Rescue is near. He welcomes you into His embrace and asks that you just sit a while.
Listen for His voice.
And keep waiting on the Lord.
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