While Sea Billows Roll: Waiting on the Lord

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?

Some days I'm all "onward Christian soldiers" and others I'm moaning about like an Israelite, lost in the desert. Some honest questions about suffering and the Father's surprising answers about waiting while sea billows roll.  christian women, suffering, trials, struggle, pain, bible study, devotional thought, christian encouragement, how to trust God, learning from trials

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]

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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.

 

Is it one of "those" days?  Or maybe it's been a whole week, month, year of trial after trial?  Read here for some honest questions about suffering and the Father's surprising answers about waiting while sea billows roll.     suffering, Christian suffering, faith, doubting, Christian women, trials, struggles

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.

Jen :)

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

http://sarahjofairchild.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/just-one-of-those-days-again/

I’ll also be linking up at any of these places.

Sharing with: Grace and Truth

Comments

  1. says

    Jen, this is a wonderful post, also love the above quote Leah is referencing. I’ve found from trials that you can’t really ever look back to what you could do or what you had. It only brings regrets and sadness. God has moved you to a new circumstance for a reason and if we don’t fully embrace this, we will miss this journey and lesson. It was hard-learned for me. I’d left much behind. Blessings to you

    • says

      Yes, Kim, I don’t want to miss the lesson. Even though being low-down like this isn’t my favorite spot, I know ultimately it is for my good, for my benefit that the Lord has us here. Thanks for sharing.
      Jen :)

  2. says

    waiting is the hardest thing! from the time we were little to now – we have never – ever waited well at all.

    This is the 3rd pastor’s wife’s blog that i’ve visited today and within the last 6 weeks, seems so many are discouraged and are going through some intensely tough times. and i must say, i’m right there with you,

    I’ve cried a million tears or more in the last few weeks but have to say God is faithful and always will be.

    during the toughest times, I had to grab Gods promises. i started writing them down so that when my heart ached the most, I could have them at my finger tips. I hope they encourage you – and i invite you to make a list of your own – and then link up over at my site – as i know your words will encourage others that stop in there!

    {{HUGS}} praying for you

    http://www.spreading-joy.org/site/godpromised/

    @spreadingJOY

  3. Barbie says

    So beautiful! I am not certain of the trials you are facing, but thankful for this place of truly desiring to wait on the Lord for His strength. He is faithful!

    • says

      Thanks, Barbie. The lesson has been difficult at times, but I’m trying to quit fighting so much and just soak it in. Of course, some days I relax into it more than others. It’s all part of that work-in-progress. Thanks for stopping by to encourage me!
      Jen :)

    • says

      Yes, Marty. Waiting can be hard, but He’s teaching me patience and how to endure. Although I’d like this season of trial to end sooner rather than later, I know the lessons will be valuable!
      Jen :)

  4. says

    This is such a beautiful post, Jen. I thank you so much for sharing so honestly and speaking God’s truth so relevantly to your own suffering. This is so inspirational and encouraging to others who are going through similar circumstances. Bless you and may you know God’s love deeper and deeper every day.
    Thanks for sharing at Essential Fridays.
    Blessings
    Mel from Essential Thing Devotions

    • says

      Mel, your words are like balm to my soul. Sometimes we write these things just hoping that we are truly being obedient, that it’s really about Him and not about self. Thank you for the affirmation!
      Jen :)

  5. says

    You can’t stop the waves from crashing into each other is what someone always used to tell me on days like that. I think we try to hard to control the situation and stop it from happening instead of riding the wave out like a body surfer would. There used to be an herb mixture I bought that would calm me down that regulated my hormones. Some of what makes matters worse is the season of life you are in while you are raising children. Staying in the Word of God, especially Psalms was something that I found to be comforting and guiding. Thanks for sharing.

  6. says

    I’ve often said that waiting on God is never passive but you’ve proven it by your in depth study of the meaning behind the original words, Jen. I really appreciate that as well as the way you’ve thought through this from all sorts of angles, bearing your soul in such a vulnerable and raw way. I may not be in the kind of pain you’re going through now but I’ve been there, where words and Bible verses and even prayers have left me confused and feeling alone. It’s never an easy place to be in, but I pray that your new perspective continues to make all the difference for you. I’m also praying that there will be those who resonate here and now with your story of confusion and pain, finding comfort in your strong faith and even stronger God!

    • says

      Yes, the new perspective has been very helpful. I’m hoping to blog more about what the Lord’s been teaching me later this week. I still feel frustrated by these temporary trials from time to time, but I no longer feel guilty or defeated, and that’s a huge relief!
      Jen :)

  7. says

    {Melinda} Oh, I have been through these times. It is so hard. I think my biggest enemy has always fear — fear that things aren’t going to work out or that it’s going to be really painful until they do.

    Being a mom during those times is so difficult. I found that I had to just DECIDE to do the basics — getting kids to school, making sure they were fed and doing homework. And as I did those things, my energy and motivation slowly began to kick in. Every when my mind was whirling with all my dark thoughts and struggles.

    I pray you feel God’s presence as you and your family is going through this dark time. <3

    • says

      Yes, I think lowering expectations is a very helpful tip. Surviving is hard enough during those times, let alone worrying about thriving! We definitely feel Him with us. Thanks for stopping by!
      Jen :)

  8. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart in this post! It really ministered to me as I’m learning to trust and wait on the Lord’s perfect timing. All too often I try to rush things on my own and not being patient. Thanks for the sweet reminder :)

    • says

      Vanessa, thank you for your sweet words. Waiting is one of my least favorite things, but often that’s where God does the most work on my heart. Praying for you as you wait!
      Jen :)

  9. says

    Love the phrase “Grace-colored glasses!” I think I’ll add that to my own vocabulary. A thoughtful post reminding us to keep looking for God in our every circumstance. Blessings to you.

    • says

      Hi, Traci! That phrase came from an older post that I wrote about the time that my husband and the Lord helped me to see myself through Grace-colored glasses, and it kinda just stuck. :) Another favorite phrase of mine along the same lines is work-in-progress. That also reminds me that I’m not perfect, but I am growing! Thanks for stopping by.
      Jen :)

  10. Sheila says

    Thank-you so much for the wise and encouraging post. I can’t count how many times this year I’ve surrendered as the waves crashed down on me, tears coursing down my cheeks in prayer. You are blessing strangers with your blog.

    • says

      Oh, Sheila, I’m so thankful these words mean something to you. :) When those waves pound us one after another, it’s hard to do anything else but cry out for mercy. But the Father is listening. He never stops listening and working on our behalf! Praying for you this evening!
      Jen :)

  11. Katy says

    I was really heart broken tonight over some serious matters, I took a drive , cried and yelled out to God for help. I parked my car when I could hardly breathe and cried out to God ” please help me find answers and calm my soul. I opened pinterest and looked up devotions on pain. This came up immediately, God knew exactly what I needed to read. I sobbed and read this out loud to myself, as my soul began to find peace and my tears stopped. I began to smile and all I could do was say thank you father for giving this to me tonight. Your words were a bandage to my open wounds. Thank you for pouring out your struggles for they have opened my eyes to the hope of his mercy and love for me in my own storms tonight.
    -K

    • says

      K, I’m going to tell you a little blogger secret – sometimes small-timers like myself struggle with doubts about whether or not we’re really having an impact or whether our time might be better spent elsewhere. So tonight, your words are a balm to my spirit. How good is God that He can use words written in pain, even from years past, to encourage a fellow Christ-follower?! I’m just in awe. Thank you for taking the time to share this with me.
      Jen :)

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