Brave Enough to Wait

This post was originally published on The Road to Brave.

Lord, help me to live this day, quietly, easily. To lean upon Thy great strength, trustfully, restfully. To wait for the unfolding of Thy will, patiently, serenely. To meet others, peacefully, joyously. To face tomorrow, confidently, courageously.

Francis of Assisi

Trustfully and restfully are two words I deeply, deeply want to describe me…but if I am honest, I’m pretty sure anxiously and uncertainly are at least slightly more apropos. Patiently, serenely. Boy, I do wish. Peacefully, joyfully. Confidently, courageously. 

It’s really too bad I can’t take St. Francis out to coffee, because I would love to know more about how this worked itself out in his daily life (although I suppose that if a conversation were possible, there would probably be a waiting list, especially from animal lovers.) Those sorts of traits are things we all realize we have a need for. They’re attitudes we pray for and wrestle with. Honestly, in every season, but especially when we find ourselves in a particularly tight or tough place.

Especially when we’re stuck waiting. 

There are a lot of things we wait for without the luxury of a calendar date to look forward to. We wait for a relationship. For a new job. For new friends. For a particular opportunity. For children. In today’s day and age, especially poignant to a lot of Christian young people is the process of waiting for marriage. Whatever that “thing” is, we’re all hyped up and ready. “Great, I’m ready, God!” we say. “Let’s get moving!” 

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And God says…“No, not yet.” 

Not yet? Not yet? 

So we wait. We get really good at thumb-twiddling.

And wait. 

And wait. 

And sometimes, keeping on trusting…keeping patience…keeping serenity or restfulness…keeping courage…are really, really hard in long seasons of waiting for something our hearts are longing for. Sometimes, the most courageous thing we can do is jump into something with both feet. But other times, the bravest thing we can do is to wait. 

Wait…For What? 
I remember the first time I felt the almost-physical ache of longing for something with no certain timeline of getting it. At nine years old, I was about as horse-crazy a girl as they come, and it seemed like every thought and fiber of my being was wrapped up in the idea of wanting my own equine buddy. The fact that it remained a far-out-there dream for years wasn’t just tough to endure, it was downright miserable sometimes. Even as a kid, I felt, and felt deeply.

But horses aren’t the only thing we long for, and usually the stakes for what we’re waiting for get deeper and higher the older we get. Sometimes it’s friendships that feel like they’re missing. Sometimes it’s romantic relationships. With family and friends who’d all married young, I assumed I’d be no different, and at 20, I figured I was ready for marriage. But God had different plans. A year went by. Two. Five. Almost a decade later, I found myself facing a very different set of experiences than I ever thought I would, and to be honest, sometimes I wondered what I’d done wrong. Why me, God?

Those sorts of experiences make me wonder, what is it we are waiting for? Most of us can say what it is, and why we want it, without much hesitation. But there’s almost always something deeper. When I longed for marriage, I wanted that companionship, my own little family, the giving and receiving of faithful love. When I waited for a job (a very active-seeking-waiting!), I wanted provision and security. When I waited on clarity for an upcoming decision, I wanted assurance. 

All around me, even today, I see people I love in the midst of an aching wait. For connections, for outcomes, for friendships, for a spouse, for work. That ache is real, and to cheapen it with a glib “It’ll all work out,” or “Good things come to those who wait,” or “Just trust God,” seems simultaneously trite and maddeningly unhelpful. 

But there’s a truth in that last sentence (often delivered by well-meaning saints but in a way that does more damage than help), and it speaks to this question of what we’re waiting for, too. For me, it’s so easy to lose sight of Who God is in the midst of a waiting season. It’s easy to look at what I am longing for — after all, it’s constantly vying for conscious space in my thoughts. It’s a whole lot harder to look at Who God is. A godly widow recently spoke to myself and others of how the character of God grounds us in the midst of hope-starved times — our God is Jehovah Shalom, the LORD of peace…Jehovah Jireh, the LORD my Provider…Jehovah Rapha, the God Who heals…and so much more. 

Sometimes, in the midst of waiting times, asking, “What am I waiting for?” can be a beautiful reminder of who we are, whose we are, and what we already have. 

Beauty in Hard Places…Looking at the Light instead of the Lies 
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
Is. 43:19

I studied the card one more time, then set it prominently on my bookshelf to increase the odds of it being a daily reminder. A friend had just sent me a brief note of encouragement, and inside this note was the verse Isaiah 43:19. In a season of a lot of uncertainty and confusion, my heart really needed this reminder. Sometimes, to be honest, I need the encouragement to embrace whatever “new thing” God is doing. Sometimes I need the reminder that God is able to make a way where I see none, and to bring life to things I think seem lifeless. 

Sometimes I need the reminder that though it can be very hard to see the beautiful things springing up in a season of waiting, they’re worth looking for. Gifts of goodness are so often camouflaged by the intensity of our desires. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not there. Our God is a master gardener, and He is able to not only make straight our paths but to also bring beauty and healing out of the difficult parts of those paths. 

Which forces me to ask myself…what am I looking at today? Where do my eyes go, not only now, but also in times of waiting? Honestly, much of the time, they’re on how I feel about the situation. Or they’re on the challenges, or the things that aren’t going well, or on my fears or anxieties. 

Not on the beauties God has put in my path. 

Not on the gifts He has lavished even in this season. 

Especially in seasons of waiting, when by definition we’re having to let go and lean on the Lord for something if we’re truly trusting Him, the direction of our eyes directs our thoughts which directs our hearts which directs our actions. Even though it’s often way easier to let our minds and hearts slip to untrue things in the midst of waiting, and even though it’s often way harder to look up to Christ instead…let’s instead encourage ourselves and each other to focus on what is true and good and beautiful. Let’s look for those small daily reminders of grace and goodness. Let’s look to the Light instead of the lies…it is an infinitely better, safer, stronger, healthier, braver, and ultimately life-giving direction for our daily steps. 

These are not things I’ve mastered, by the way. I’m wrestling through these daily, and my hunch is you’ve experienced this, too. What a gift that God’s grace is sufficient for all of it!

The Goodness of the Lord
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
~ Psalm 27:13–14

I wish it was easier for waiting and hoping to be synonymous things. Not the modern-dictionary definition of hope, by the way—not “wanting something to happen or be the case” (Oxford Languages), no “optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes” (Wikipedia), but rather “a steadfast anchor for the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). But waiting so often seems to be a drain on hope. The longer the wait, the lower the hope. I see the patriarchs of the Bible, the prophets, the apostles, the early Church…so many people who set an example for us of hope and faith amidst trying (and often desperate) times of waiting (or war, or desolation). And I find that admiring them, and being hopeful, are two different things. I want to be a hopeful, faith-filled person, and I find there are a lot of daily steps that must be taken in order to be a hopeful, faith-filled person. 

So maybe one of the everyday steps we can take toward that kind of hope, that kind of trust, is just this—that no matter what we find ourselves waiting for, to choose to believe that we shall still look upon the goodness of the Lord. 

To wait earnestly for this thing we desire and long for, yes, and to take it faithfully to the Lord in prayer. But to also wait for God Himself. To be strong, to let our hearts take courage in the midst of the waiting. In the midst of the wilderness. To wait. On. Him. 

Belief is an evidence-based choice, not a feeling. And I wish that made it easier to live out in the hard times (I know it doesn’t always). It’s still hard to not be driven, at least in part, by those day-to-day emotions rather than the bedrock beliefs that ground us. But oh, by the grace of God, may we be sons and daughters who are courageous enough to choose to look up and know that the Lord is still God. 

To think about what it is our hearts are waiting for and to commit our desires to God. 

To stop and look for the beauty in hard places…to look to the Light instead of to lies. 

And to believe that we will indeed see the goodness of the Lord. To wait on Him. To be strong and let our hearts take courage. To wait on the Lord. 

This week, may we be brave enough to wait.