Waiting and Strength

Today I’m calling you out… Let’s all get SUPER honest with ourselves. How many of us are good at waiting????

Well?

I’m waiting to hear your answer…Lol!

In all seriousness though, how often do you wait well? Are you good at exercising patience and a calm demeanor while waiting, without anxious thoughts pacing through your mind?

I read a verse this morning that commanded my heart to do just that, and oh the conviction that washed over my soul sweet friend. I’m actually a much more patient person than I used to be when it comes to waiting, but waiting is still hard for me all too often.

Since I’ve had children, I’ve learned to mellow out and try to teach them (by example, and not just words) how to stay calm and extend grace and patience to others when waiting our turn for things like checking out at the grocery store, washing our hands in a crowded bathroom, or standing in line at the park for their turn on a favorite swing. In practicing this patience with them, I’ve learned to put it into much better practice for myself in adult interactions too, and to give others the benefit of the doubt that just like me, they are doing the best they can.

The coolest thing has happened because of it. My daily stress level and blood pressure have gone down, and my peace level had come up.

Seriously. I used to get so upset, worked up, irritated, and angry with impatience about silly, mundane things like someone taking longer than I thought they should when paying for their groceries. I used to feel “in a hurry” ALL. THE. TIME. I used to get really upset with my kids if they didn’t comply with something I asked them to do immediately (like, unreasonably fast if I’m honest…Barely giving them time to get up off the couch, before I was yelling about it) because I felt so overwhelming stressed out due to my own impatience.

Simple tasks, like waiting on hold for an extra 10 minutes, would put me in a snit, because I never extended the grace to others of, “they’re doing the best they can.” I get it. It’s easy to judge others actions and how they affect your time. But it is not actually a lack of time that’s causing you to be angry, stressed, or anxious. It’s your own impatience.

Maybe it’s impatience with yourself. I get frustrated with myself all the time for not planning extra minutes into my schedule and then running behind because I had an unrealistic expectations that my trip to the pharmacy should only take 10 minutes and it took 15, or that the phone call to that company I needed to talk to should only last 3 minutes and I ended up on hold for 25 minutes before the 3 minute conversation happened. And yes, these things can be frustrating. But they don’t have to be if you are actively practicing patience in your life and continually learning how to actively wait.

I started allowing myself to prioritize only what absolutely had to be completed each day before bedtime, and then I leave everything else with a shrug. There will always be tomorrow. I’ll get to it when I can, and losing sleep over it isn’t going to make me more productive. And if there isn’t a tomorrow, well, then it won’t matter anymore anyway. And honestly, if I never end up with all the laundry washed, folded, and put away at one time, how does that genuinely affect my life in any significant way? Priorities.

But aside from waiting in the physical realm, which we have some minimal control over, what about waiting upon the Lord for the answer to your desperate prayers and the deepest longings of your heart which we have no control over? Oh friend, how incredibly difficult this can feel.

While I’ve gotten better at waiting in the physical realm (because honestly, I’ve come to realize it’s really NOT eternally significant if I’m 10 minutes late to church because my kid lost her shoes in the 45 seconds I turned my back after handing them to her to put on her feet), I still struggle terribly at waiting in the spiritual realm. Waiting on the Lord is when my heart feels the weakest and weariest and most anxious.

How about yours? After passing over a specific issue, do you ever find yourself feeling like a puppy that was left home alone, anxiously staring out the window all day in hopes of catching a glimpse of someone returning to reassure you that life is going to be okay? Do you find your ears perking up at every little sound, and then, when something does finally appear in your line of sight, but ends up being a squirrel instead of that reassuring presence you were hoping for, you start barking like a crazy person? No? Only me???

I cannot express how hard it is for me to be patient when waiting upon the Lord. When that bill is coming due and the money just isn’t in my bank account…when I have to make the final call about re-enrolling my daughter in private school or public for the next year and I haven’t heard the voice of the Lord clearly yet…when everything in life seems to be shifting and changing in ways I can’t control and He is silent about the reason why…when He has commanded me to do or pursue something that just doesn’t seem to make sense but I know I have to stand in obedience whether I like the idea or not…when a family member is struggling with addiction or health issues and I just want to see them healed and restore but things seem to be continuing to get worse instead of better no matter how much I’ve prayed…these are the things that make my heart constrict.

Patience and waiting are heart issues my friend. And like it or not, we are commanded to wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14 emphasizes it twice:

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

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The verse doesn’t just say to wait on the Lord though, it also says He will strengthen your heart while you’re waiting. I don’t know about you, but my heart needs strengthened when it comes to waiting.

For years I suffered from panic attacks where I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest every time I faced a serious issue in my life. As I’ve learned to wait upon the Lord more patiently, I’ve noticed a direct correlation in the way my heart feels. There was nothing physically wrong (I went to the cardiologist to be sure), but there were things very spiritually and emotionally wrong with my heart.

I realized I can continue down the road of anxiety and put my body into a state of complete terror and panic, or I can take those thoughts captive (easier said than done; this is a practice that takes constant repetition and consistency) and give them fully over to the Lord. Dwelling on it doesn’t change the situation, but it does weaken my heart. Today definitely has enough troubles of its own, I do not need to go borrowing trouble for tomorrow too. I don’t need to go chasing after them or looking for them through the windows of my mind. If the view is clear and peaceful at this precise moment, savor it. Only concern yourself with trouble once it appears in your actual line of sight, not in your imagination.

That doesn’t mean I don’t (often) find myself back at the window out of habit, feeling like that dog in the picture above when I’m waiting on an answer, but I’ve found that now that I’ve developed more patience, I wait more with expectancy than anxiety. Praise the Lord!

As your faith grows, then you are able to begin waiting because you KNOW the answer is coming. You don’t look out the window because you are unsure whether it will appear or not, but instead because you expect it at any minute now, and you’re just excited to see HOW and WHEN it shows up, rather than wondering IF it will ever arrive.

This only starts to occur when you let the Lord strengthen your heart by waiting on Him. Waiting equals strength training for your heart. And waiting takes patience. These are things that we, as humans beings, simply cannot develop without supernatural intervention. So take a minute to thank God today for the strength he promises whole we wait patiently for Him to come through.

My prayer for you today, dear one, is that you too will begin to actively wait in expectation, knowing you have the strength of heart to endure whatever may come, because your strength comes from the Lord. I pray you can recognize you are not waiting on the world, you are waiting on the Lord, and when that is the truth you claim for your life, nothing the world does to try and stop the answer that’s coming can prevail.

Actively wait in obedience, going about whatever tasks God assigns you to complete while you’re waiting. I pray you won’t just sit at the widow and stare out anxiously, but instead you’ll rest courageously and peacefully in the knowledge that if you’ve given it over to God, He’s going to return to you in due time, and no amount of fretting will speed things up, so get up and get on with life. There can be joy in the waiting, and I pray that your spiritual eyes will be opened today to recognize this truth and see it all around you, and that your heart will feel strengthened in this moment of waiting.

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