The Wilderness of Waiting

Guest post by Rebecca VanDeMark

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.
— Psalm 27:13-14

Waiting is the hardest anguish, isn't it? The emotions felt while waiting on the Lord to answer prayers that you have prayed months and years and sometimes decades to come to fruition are hard to adequately express in words.  Waiting is the difficult anguish of acknowledging that my deepest longing and desire is unfulfilled at present, while wrestling with the bewilderment of unanswered prayer with the God I desperately love.

Those of you who are in waiting seasons of life can, I am sure, relate. Walking in the wilderness of waiting can be like walking on a tightrope of emotions, can't it? Through certain circumstances we begin to believe that God is at work and our prayers are being answered, only to have the circumstances shatter. One day we receive the call that finally, after two rounds of IVF, it looks like a baby will finally be a reality, only to suffer a miscarriage a few months later. In one moment we get our hopes up when the perfect job we have been praying for opens up, only to find out that the promotion went to someone else. In one month it appears that a love story we have been dreaming of for decades has come to stay, only to discover next month that the interest has gone elsewhere. In one week we can receive the beautiful news of a health report showing things are improving, but the following week scans illuminate new signs of disease in other places. The list of waiting situations could go on and on.

No matter the situation or circumstance, the rollercoaster of emotions that accompanies the journey of waiting touches deeply to the core the heart of all who are walking it. I have been learning in greater ways these past years that waiting requires a tenacity of spirit and faith like nothing else. When friends approach me with their own waiting stories, my heart breaks with them; God’s seeming silence reigns when we long to hear Him shout down encouragement from Heaven.

Or maybe—if I am completely honest—it is how I want Him to answer prayers that I am really longing for…

Like it or not, in this journey of waiting I see something else. As I look to the Lord and meditate on His word, I come face to face with Him and who I am and what I am really after. In a spirit of complete honesty, new friends, I am sure that many people think that I am just longing for healing from the disease I am fighting. That would be true, but for me, my hard is the longing to be married and be a mama. So I wrestle with questions with God about present situations (my health) and over prayers I have prayed decades for (my heart longings).

What if I worshiped a god who granted every single request at the drop of a hat that I wanted? What if everything I prayed for, in the exact way I prayed for it, came true? Would I need a god like that? Would I want a god who obeyed my every whim and desire? Wouldn’t I be making this god into who I wanted him to be instead of letting him be god? Would I love this type of god more because he answered all of the things I asked for in the time frame that I wanted?

If the answer to that last question is yes, then I have to face myself and ask what I am looking for truly out of my relationship with Christ. Do I only want someone who answers my requests and gives me everything I want? Or do I truly want God and His perfect timing even if His ways and answers are completely different than mine?

Several years ago Kara said, The nearness of God is my only good, which has resonated deeply with me these past few months and has forced me to ask myself some tough questions. Is the nearness of God my only good? Is the nearness of God enough for me in my waiting seasons?

Like it or not (embarrassingly and honestly) unanswered prayers and the journey of waiting forces me to confront these questions and myself in a brutal and real way. If I am brave enough I will face these questions even though many times I want to run away from them. I might not like what these questions say about me, but the truth is, in any waiting season they are still before us. And the truth, as scripture states, does set us free. Free to except the hard realities, and free to accept and choose the joy that comes with worshiping and loving a God who is not my own creation, but who IS God Almighty.

As I daily and timidly surrender my hopes and dreams in my waiting season, I find the Lord tenderly envelops me with His grace and grants me strength and courage to face each day before me with hope, joy, and courage.

Our grace for today comes from running to the only one who fills our deepest need and, as Kara so wisely said, is our only good. Find hope, dear friends, in His word, His promises, and His loving-kindness and who He truly is. God, even if He feels silent, is not. He is in the waiting friends. He is in the tears and sorrow. He has promised that He will answer and that is enough for today.

Last year I came across a quote from Scotty Smith that pierced my heart with its truth, love, and grace: 

Interestingly enough, the most asked question in the whole Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) is “How Long, O Lord, How Long?” And the most repeated command from God is, “Do not fear” or “Do not be afraid”. The people of God consistently cry out for relief, and the God of love bids us to trust Him.

Isn’t that so true, sweet friends? The God of love is bidding us to trust Him in courageous ways as we wait and cry out to Him. Hold on to hope; He is good and He has not forgotten us.

Rebecca VanDeMark is an author, speaker, and blogger who loves Jesus, life, and the miracle of hope. Rebecca is the author of the newly released book, December Caravan, which is a collection of short stories sharing the hope of an ever-present God, and four other previous books including Praying through Lyme Disease. Rebecca is the founder of Grace Engaged, a ministry to high school women, and Lyme Caravan Foundation, an organization that helps Lyme disease patients and their families. Rebecca holds degrees from Cedarville University, Regent University, and American University. Before fighting health issues Rebecca worked in Washington, DC, with two non-profit organizations and later taught high school history and Bible classes for seven years. Rebecca loves celebrating the beauty of the ordinary each day as she fights Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease in addition to other health issues. She lives with her family, splitting time between the sweet south and upstate New York. Rebecca can be found at her personal website or on her blog.