By: Josh Martin, Pullman Site Pastor
This summer Amy and I hit 10 years of marriage and planned to celebrate in Cancun. We booked one of those swanky rooms with an ocean view and hot tub. The plan was to rest, relax, and reflect on the Lord’s grace and goodness. And get sun burnt and overeat and read books and not yell at children. It was going to be glorious.
Then six weeks before our trip we got news of a better glorious. We were pregnant. After four and a half years of trying, we did it. God did it. And kid number three was making their entrance into the world by crashing our anniversary party. Fun fact: Pregnant women can’t go to Mexico because of the Zika virus. Tragic but true. Our trip had to be cancelled. No ocean view. No hot tub. No dream. We settled for a Holiday Inn timeshare in Scottsdale.
Over the last ten years, in one way or another, my wife and I have been waiting on God to do something we couldn’t do—bring us children. For five years we waited on our first daughter. For five more years we waited on our third daughter. And in the middle of that we waited two and a half years for our adopted second daughter. I don’t believe we’ve figured it out, not even close, and I’m sure more seasons of waiting are in front of us, but here’s what we’ve learned so far.
1. Waiting on the Lord is a gift from the Lord.
For a lot of us, for a lot of times, God says “Yes” to our prayers. When he says “No” for an extended period of time, he is being gracious. So very gracious.
When is the last time you prayed for something for five years before it was answered? When was the last time you prayed and fasted and invited your community to join you in the battle? So often we think if our prayer isn’t getting answered, we’ve failed, but the truth is: The only way to fail in prayer is by quitting. God is giving you a gift when you have to engage in and endure the redundancy of prayer. He’s growing you in the process. And if by God’s grace you make it to the other side of the wait, you will miss it.
There was a time when we realized we had been trying to get pregnant for one hundred months, and it only worked one time. Then, on month one hundred and one, it worked again. So we’re 2 for 101. Both times, a couple weeks after we got pregnant, I felt a sense of missing the desperation and dependency Amy and I had been walking in. God had said “Yes”, and I was so grateful, but there was joy in the season of waiting and wanting and longing. Looking back I don’t think anything stretched me more than those long seasons in the valley. As cheesy as it sounds, it's true: You don’t transform on the mountain top, you transform in the valley.
2. Waiting on the Lord will force you to reckon with unrealistic expectations and entitlement.
This world is not operating in the way God intended it to operate, therefore things are going to happen that are natural outcomes of this sinful world. God has not promised a comfortable life, He’s promised us Himself. So, real talk:
We are owed nothing. We deserve nothing. All is grace. All is a gift. That should be the posture of the believer in all things. Yet when you’re waiting on God to do something you can’t do, you start to believe lies. I deserve this. God, I’ve earned this. God, I’ve loved you and served you for a long time, I think you owe me.
No one really says that stuff out loud but that’s what happens in your heart if you’re honest in the waiting. We are self-reliant, self-sufficient people. When God asks us to depend on Him deeply, and shows us how weak we really are, a sense of panic sets in. Waiting shows you how “not in control” you really are. And we don’t like that. But God loves it. He loves when we see how broken and needy we really are and turn to Him.
3. In the waiting, you see clearly other things God is actively trying to show you.
Our adoption- our life-changing top-three most significant events in our whole life, the process that brought Lucy Joy Yan Martin into our home and hearts- happened while we were waiting. We can’t imagine a life without Lucy, yet we hadn’t planned it this way. It was God moving in the waiting that led us to adopt from China when we did, how we did, where we did, and ultimately it gave us a gift we never deserved.
It’s often in the middle of the wait that God is bringing about other things you might not have prioritized the same way. While you’re waiting and praying for 1 thing God is doing 10,000 other things. Be mindful of those other moves, and be movable while you wait.
The fallenness of our world will come for you, and in the suffering, in the waiting, remember you have a God who meets you where you are, and is actively transforming you into the likeness of Christ while you wait.