Be Expectant: Four Things to Help You Wait Well

Note:  With back-to-back weddings and the impending arrival of our second grandchild, I haven’t been writing too much, but earlier this week I shared some thoughts about WAITING over at Club31Women, a place where you’ll find encouragement for all things faith, home, and family. I’m re-sharing that post here, along with the (spoiler alert!) announcement that baby Grayson is here! Grayson’s arrival is a long-awaited blessing…and we are SO HAPPY we could BUST.

(And yes. I have pix. Scroll to the end if you want to see!)

Be Expectant:  Four Things to Help You Wait Well

As I write this, my daughter is 39 weeks pregnant, awaiting the arrival of her first child. A son. I can’t wait to meet him. To see his face. To know his name!

I am expectant.

I wish I could say I felt the same way during every waiting season. To me, waiting usually conjures images of unmet longings and disappointing circumstances:  The dating relationship that was supposed to lead to marriage but hasn’t. The job promotion that never materialized. The gap between homesick and happy in a new place. The toddler who won’t sleep through the night. The sickness—physical or emotional—that just won’t go away. The womb that stays closed.

Waiting feels like it’s not so much about anticipation as it is endurance. And given that the word patience is derived from the Latin word for suffering, it comes as no surprise that when the Bible exhorts us to “wait for the Lord,” the very next words are,

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage.”  (Psalm 27:14)

Be strong and take courage. Those words seem more suited to an epic adventure than to a long holding pattern; it’s like the psalmist knows that waiting on God will tap (and maybe even exhaust) our deepest fuel reserves.

And it can be easy in the face of delayed provision or unanswered prayers to grow weary and want to give up. Particularly when we’re asking God for something we know is good—the salvation of a loved one, reconciliation or forgiveness among family members, freedom from a crippling addiction—and it doesn’t look like the needle is moving. That can be confusing.

Frustrating. Faith-shaking, even.

Maybe God has some secret reason for withholding an answer, we think to ourselves, and the most pious thing we could do would be to just quit. To stop praying. To pack up our trust and go home.

But let’s don’t.

Instead, let’s take the long view, believing Jesus when he says that his Father is always at work, even when we can’t see what he’s doing. (John 5:17)  And as we wait on God’s answer or his provision, I can think of at least four things that might help.

What Happens While We Wait

First, consider what might be happening while we wait.

God could be teaching us perseverance—the trait that makes us mature and complete. (James 1:3-4)

He might be testing and purifying our faith—not for his benefit, but to prove to us that what we have is both strong and real. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Or he might be giving us an opportunity to hone our request so that our desire lines up with his (better) plan. (Matthew 26:42)

We don’t know what God might be doing, but even the waiting season itself can make the eventual answer extra sweet. How much more grateful are we for a blessing that arrives after a long prayer battle than we are for the one that just shows up on our doorstep as if delivered by Amazon Prime?

God’s Faithfulness While We Wait

Second, reflect on the ways God’s faithfulness has already presented itself.

Taking time to consider God’s past provision equips us to be strong and take heart for the future. If you don’t already make a practice of thanking God for what he has done, grab a journal (a spiral notebook will do) and start keeping a record. Aim for just two or three notes every day and build your collection—your “faithfulness altar”—from there.

Spend Time in God’s Word

Third, make time to meet God in his Word. Spend time reading the Bible, allowing it to shape your perspective. The more we fill our minds with Scripture, the more our thoughts and desires begin to line up with what God wants to do.

What he already is doing.

Pray in the Waiting

And finally, pray.

God longs to show us his goodness and draw us into deeper communion with him. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you wait well. Ask him to open your eyes to the purposes God may want to accomplish. And ask him to equip you to trust God’s timing, knowing that he is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

The Lord is good to those who wait for him (Lamentations 3:25)

Lamentations 3: 25 says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him.”

Let’s be expectant.



Grayson and his parents in the hospital

Welcome Baby Grayson

Welcome Grayson! We've waited for you!

Welcome home, Baby Grayson. We’ve been waiting for you. 💙

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The “Unbroken Enjoyment” of Waiting

In his classic work, Waiting on God, Andrew Murray says that waiting “gives a higher value and a new power to our prayer and worship” because it links us to God and gives us the “unbroken enjoyment” of his goodness.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would ever put “waiting” in the same sentence as “unbroken enjoyment.” Not even on the same page. But thanks to one of those cosmic collisions that happens between life and learning, I am starting to believe that Murray might be on to something.

The “life” part of the collision is an unsettling mix of unmet longings and disappointing circumstances, the things I see and experience in the lives of those I hold dear. The dating relationship that was “supposed” to lead to marriage but didn’t. The promotion at work that never materialized. The deal that has not yet closed. The “deferred” notice on the med school application. The gap between homesick and happy for college students. The desire to have a baby (and the heartache that grows with each negative pregnancy test).

Those are the unexpected outcomes – and the unanswered prayers – that can make a person wonder about verses like Isaiah 49:23, which is where God says, “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” 

The “learning” part is the light that is piercing the darkness. Thanks to resources like Murray’s book, as well as a Bible study I am doing right now on the Psalms (click here to see the teachings offered through Galilee Church), I’m cobbling together an understanding of verses like Proverbs 13:12 (“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”), and I want to invite you to join me.

Over the next three weeks, I am going to write about what happens when hope is deferred:

What are we supposed to do when our prayers are not answered in the way that we expect – or when they seem to be not answered at all?

How can we handle the grief, or the anger, that can slip in through the door of disillusionment and wrap itself around our hearts?

Is the “unbroken enjoyment of God’s goodness” really an option for believers today? And if so, how do we get there?

Waiting is hard. Murray says that the word patience is actually derived from the Latin word for suffering. That, unfortunately, makes sense. And it might explain why the Bible offers this little pump-up nugget:  “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage” (Psalm 27:14 ESV).

“Be strong and take courage” are words you might expect to hear at the outset of some adventure, some challenging or difficult enterprise that will tap (and maybe even exhaust) your deepest reserves. And if you don’t want to slog through that mire with me, I get it. Just check back in December, when I promise to post something more fun (an update, perhaps, to the Posture Brace or maybe even the Christmas Sweater).

But if you want to come along for the ride, I’ll leave you with the promise of good things to come:  A rescue, a firm footing, and a new song:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God. (Psalm 40:1-3)


And PS, for those who might want their own copy of Waiting on God:  You can download the 1896 version for FREE by clicking here, or order the updated version ($5.99, and with language that is easier to follow but still needs maybe a 600 on the SAT Verbal) here.





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Waiting Well

So this week, a friend told me that she met someone at her church who likes my blogs because she thinks they are “so funny.” Uh-oh. If that’s you, can I just apologize in advance? Because what I want to write about today is seriously not funny.

I am going to write about waiting.

Which is what I did for 97 straight minutes last week. Standing up the whole time. In a line. To make an appointment. For a passport. At the post office.


See? Not funny.

Oh sure, there were some funny parts. Like, after about 20 of us had been standing there for an hour (they recommend arriving by about 7 a.m., since there are a limited number of appointments to be had and it’s first come, first served), we heard noises behind a locked door that made us think a clerk was coming. Turns out, it was the janitor. “Yesterday,” he said, pushing his mop, “was a real mess. Nobody came. I don’t know if they are gonna come today or not. So what you all are gonna need to do is just keep waiting.”

Granted, that doesn’t sound all that funny now. At the time, though (having stood there, fresh out of bed and without any coffee, for 56 minutes and counting) I thought it was kind of hilarious. Especially when the white-haired gentleman five people ahead  of me looked back down the line and said, “I’m from the government. I’m here to help.”

Now, I don’t have anything against the government. Well, not the post office people, anyway. They mostly just want to sell stamps. Even the big guy who finally showed up to take names (“You people are gonna have to back this line up, now…that’s right…all the way back, behind the red line”) was just doing his job. And do it he did. All 30 of us (the line kept growing) scuttled backwards, like so many crabs. Or maybe penguins, only in reverse.

Okay, so who does that? I mean, who gets up at 6:00 in the morning and skips their coffee to go stand in line at the post office for 97 minutes, and then waddles backwards with all of the other sheep when the man with the clipboard says to Get Behind The Red Line??

Robbie wouldn’t have. He would’ve taken one look, walked out, gotten online, and paid some passport service an excess upcharge overcharge to expedite the whole process.

But not me.

For me, it was a matter of principle. I was standing in line with my Fellow Americans. If the Russians could do it (and I was pretty sure 97 minutes on a cold tile floor would be amateur hour, to them), then by golly, so could I. I would wait all day, if I had to.

There remained, however, the matter of how to pass the time. (I’m a get-‘er-done kind of gal, and when the janitor showed up with his less-than-encouraging prognosis, I started rifling through the change-of-address and hold-mail forms to see if there was anything that could be considered stationery.)

My pal Lisa says that when you have to wait, you should pray for everyone else who is waiting. So I tried that. I prayed for the college girl at the front of the line (she’d collapsed at about the 37-minute mark, announcing to nobody in particular that she was getting ready to study abroad and she didn’t mind the post office floor). I prayed for the older man who was not really from the government. I prayed for the pair of African American guys, two places ahead of me, who kept shaking their heads, like they’d been accidentally cast in a bad movie. And I prayed for my new friend, Naida, who was just ahead of me in line and who gave me her cell phone number when she finally had to leave, asking that I text her with any information that might help make her next attempt (this was her second) more successful.

And then I started praying for other people I knew. The sick. The discouraged. The destitute. All the people, in other words, that I was beginning to feel jealous of. (Like my mother, who broke her wrist on New Year’s Day and now has what seems like her entire left side  wrapped in ice and pins and splints. At least she has John to bring coffee and turn on the Netflix.)

I guess I could have stood like that forever, waiting and praying behind the red line until I collapsed next to the study abroad girl, but it was finally my turn. And I was one of the lucky ones; I got an appointment. To come back later that day. (Powerball fans, eat your heart out.)

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I am an idiot, and the fact that this whole thing turned into a blog has only made a bad situation worse. That’s what I thought, too – until my phone rang as I was pulling out of the post office parking lot. It was my friend Annesley, calling to fill me in on her family’s start to 2016.

“We all picked fruits of the Spirit to pray for this year,” she said, referring to the list outlined in Galatians. “And when I did a little research on patience, I discovered that it’s not just about waiting. The Amplified Bible says–”

At that point, Annesley drove into a tunnel or something, and our conversation got cut off. I couldn’t believe it. Seriously? I had to wait to find out what patience meant?

I couldn’t. I googled Galatians 5:22-23 in the Amplified Translation. Here’s what it says:

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Ahhh. So patience (the kind the Holy Spirit forms in us) is not just the ability to suck it up and stand there. It’s the ability to wait well. It’s how we act while waiting – what we think and say and do.

Boy, was I glad I had chosen to pray, rather than telling the clipboard guy what I really thought about his passport operation. And honestly, it could have gone either way.

I share this story not to toot my own horn (because really, I think we can all agree that Robbie’s approach to getting a passport probably makes the most sense, no matter how patriotic of a line-stander you try to be), but to give you something to do next time you find yourself having to wait. Don’t get your undies in a wad. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t start writing thank you notes on federal forms.

Instead, take the opportunity to pray. It’s not something we make a lot of time for, these days. But waiting happens to all of us, and if we step back and see the unexpected gift of time as an opportunity instead of a burden, everything changes. We get to slip our hand into the Almighty’s, partnering with him to accomplish his good purposes on earth.

Which, when you stop to think about it, is a mighty fine way to spend 97 minutes.

(And P.S., I am happy to report that Naida texted me yesterday to say that she had gotten her passport, after only three tries. Is this a great country, or what?)




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Friday Prayer for Waiting

FullSizeRenderIt’s peony time in Virginia Beach.

Every year, I watch the stems sprout up from the ground and form buds. It seems to take forever and then – just like that – they pop into bloom, great bursts of white and pink that can fill an entire house with their marvelous, heady fragrance.

I clipped this bunch this morning and thought about the waiting process. I don’t like it (who does?), but as I walked around the garden, I realized how creative God is. I would have had all the plants pop at once – one big noisy show of azaleas and hydrangeas and peonies – but then it would be over. God, in his wisdom, tells each flower when to “go,” and the result is a beautiful, season-long symphony.

When it comes to waiting, David was way ahead of me. Psalm 27 shows him surrounded by enemies, facing a day of trouble, and calling out to God for help…and yet there is no sense of panic or fear. Instead, David is confident that God  will show up. He knows God is good, and that his timing is perfect.

As we look to the Lord to work in our lives today – to be our helper, our teacher, our place of safety, and all the other things he is in Psalm 27 – let’s not give in to worry or fear, even if the answer seems to be taking longer than we’d like.  Instead, let’s borrow a prayer from David, and ask God to fill our hearts and minds with confident expectation:

Heavenly Father, let me be confident in your goodness.  Help me be strong and take heart, and to wait for you.  (Psalm 27:13-14).


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