I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago that this week’s blog post would touch on “Feeding the Spirit and the Soul.” While I fully intend on blogging about the important subject of nourishing the soul and spirit, I felt led by God’s spirit to touch on a different but extremely important topic, “Waiting on the Promises of God.”
I have been speaking to several girlfriends over the last few weeks and a recurring pattern of conversation has emerged: I am waiting on God for x, I am growing inpatient of waiting on x, I want to take matters into my own hands to make x come to pass, and why isn’t God giving me the x that He promised?
To be sure, we all face the sometimes challenging dilemma of waiting on what God has for us. If you haven’t yet, you surely will. It is a centuries-old dilemma that has caused men and women alike to run away from God and instead pursue their own agenda, thinking that they will achieve their desired outcome quicker and with better results than waiting on God. And time and time again, we all face the crushing blow of disappointment when things don’t turn out quite as we had planned.
Using my own experiences as an example, when I was in college I thought that I was grown and could do what I wanted to do. I was a church girl that was familiar with God and His teachings, but because of that I thought that I could get away with certain things and ask God’s mercy and forgiveness later. One of those things that I engaged in was pre-marital sex with my then-boyfriend.
Well, after having sex several times, I became pregnant. Not knowing what to do or being fully prepared to be a mother, I was confronted with the harsh reality that I would in fact be a mother in less than eight months. I cried, panicked, and of course, prayed. But by that point, my behavior made the choice for me. And months later, fresh out of college, I conceived a baby boy.
My choice to have sex outside of marriage led me to a result that I was not fully prepared for, and caused me to have to forfeit a full ride to graduate school out of state. Not only that, I had to move back in with my mother after graduation because I had no job and no source of income to care for the child. It was a less-than-ideal situation.
Perhaps many of you reading this post can relate to my story. It illustrates an important point: When we take matters into our own hands and fail to wait on God’s promises for our lives, we will reap things that God did not intend for us to have at a time when it is not optimal or convenient.
Now, to be sure God works ALL things, good and bad, together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28). My son, now 11, is a blessing to me and a heaven-sent gift that I cherish and thank God for everyday. But what he will never know is the struggle, the hardship, and the challenges me and his father experienced early on because we did not wait on God.
Waiting on God requires several things, all of which can be challenging for the human mind and soul to accept:
3. An understanding of God’s word and His promises concerning us;
4. A steadfast devotion and faith to bring the promise to pass;
5. Submission to God’s will over our emotions and will;
6. Separation and blocking out those voices that speak things contrary to or in opposition to the promise; and
7. Hearing the Word of God and nurturing that Word to stay devoted to the promise.
The Israelites in the book of Exodus in the Bible learned these lessons the hard way. After being freed from Egyptian rule, God (through his servant Moses) led the Israelites to Canaan (the Promised Land) through the wilderness. Their trip to Canaan, which ideally should have taken days to accomplish, took forty years because of the Israelites’ lack of faith in God’s promise. A perfect example of their unwillingness to submit to God’s plan was when the people made a golden calf to worship while Moses was on Mount Sinai retrieving the Ten Commandments. Because of their disobedience, a whole generation of Israelite men and women died in the wilderness. Only their children entered the Promised Land.
The Israelites’ journey through the wilderness provides a powerful illustration to us of how a lack of patience for God’s promises can cause us to forfeit the promise or spend an unnecessary length of time waiting for it. Sometimes, we fall into the trap of thinking that if we think about a thing and pray about a thing night and day, that God will eventually get sick of us asking for it and eventually grant us our request. Others decide that they do not need God to get what they want and try to “bypass” him to obtain it. Still, some decide to give up on God’s original promise and take another route, only to find disappointment when things fail to turn out as planned.
It is tough to believe, especially when all of the indicators around you seem to run contrary to what God has promised you. You may even have “naysayers'” in your life, encouraging you to give up on the promise and take matters into your own hands. Whatever may be coming into your life as a stumbling block or a diversion, GET RID OF IT! I hear what you are saying, “But Anique, what if it is my parents, how can I get rid of them?! What about my spouse who keeps telling me to get a job when I know that God told me to wait on Him?! What then?!”
Oftentimes, it is the people closest to us that make it difficult for us to maintain our faith posture toward God. We must recognize that these people love us and desire for us to be happy and grow. For them, it is difficult for them to see us undergoing hardship, especially when they identify what may appear as an easy solution to the problem. And for men especially–who pride themselves on being “problem solvers,” it is even more difficult for them to stay at bay and not swoop in with a solution of their own.
First, we must demonstrate to those around us that we are not “suffering” during our wait. Oftentimes, those around us are responding to the signals and attitudes that we are dishing out, many of which are not positive. If we stand on the promises of God and demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace–see Galatians 5:22), then our loved ones are more reassured that we are doing well. Second, we need to surround ourselves with the Word of God and with those that believe in our walk and will encourage us as we are waiting on God. As human beings, we all get weary and tired, no matter how strong our faith is. We need other believers, our pastors, and the Word of God to sustain us and encourage us in our faith journey.
Third, we must learn to adopt praise as our weight-crusher! Believe it or not, praise not only exalts God, but it removes the heavy burden that can sometimes be felt during our wait and replaces that void with the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit. King David said it best: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV).
Whether it is a spouse, finances, health, deliverance of a child, or a new job, all of us are waiting on something to turn around in our lives. For some of us, we have received a Word from God saying things will turn around, but we are not “fully persuaded” in our faith that it will happen. Time, it seems, only makes that doubt grow. When I feel discouraged in my wait, I recall the words of The Lord in the book of Habakkuk:
“And The Lord answered me and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2: 2-3 (KJV).
I also receive encouragement from the writer of the book of Hebrews:
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess, for he who promised is faithful. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV).
Women of faith, do not give up! If God has indeed made a promise to you, it will come to pass as long as you do not faint! Keep believing, keep striving, and keep pressing, for the tougher it gets the closer you are to receiving what God has for you.
I hear some people asking “How do I know what God promised me? Do I have a promise from God?” The answer is yes. As long as you are still alive, God has a purpose and a plan for your life. He wants you to know what that purpose is so that your actions, life decisions, and prayer life will be consistent and support that purpose. God’s promises also bring encouragement and joy because our actions are no longer haphazard, but purposeful, deliberate, and with an end goal in mind that will benefit us and those connected to us.
It is our responsibility to spend time with God and His word to find out what that purpose is. Do not be discouraged if it does not come right away–God will reveal it to you at the appropriate time. But do not give up on praying and believing God for it, because at just the right time it will reveal itself.
If you desire to know God’s promises for your life or struggle with waiting on God to bring His promises to pass, then repeat this prayer with me:
Jesus, I desire to know your promises for my life, and to have a closer walk with you. I know that the plans that you have for me are good, and not evil, to bring me to an expected end and to give me a hopeful future. Lord, help me to operate in a manner that is consistent with my life purpose, and help me to maintain a posture of faith and patience to wait upon your promises until they come to pass in my life. While I am waiting, strengthen my faith and pour your Word and Your Spirit into me that I may stay encouraged in my walk with you. Send individuals into my life that will encourage me, pray for me, and sustain me before and after I receive Your promise. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
Women of faith, be encouraged and know that there are sisters around the world in your same situation. Know that God has not forgotten about you, and I am praying for you.
“But they that wait upon The Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (KJV).
Expecting God’s harvest, Anique