When nothing seems to be happening, God is at work.
by Kathryn Cox
Oh, come on! What’s the hold up?
I dug my nails into the steering wheel, hoping to suppress a rather strong urge to blast the car horn. Three minutes ticked past, and I still wasn’t any closer to the chicken nuggets I’d ordered at the drive-through speaker. I wondered if anyone would notice the Christian bumper sticker on my car if I pulled out of line, squealing my tires in a fury.
With a crumpled bag of lukewarm, greasy nuggets in one hand and my two-year-old son perched on my hip, I trudged through my front door vowing a lifelong boycott of drive-through lines. My heart rate slowed back to normal as my toddler devoured his lunch, happy and oblivious to another near-Mommy meltdown.
Waiting has never been easy for me. I am task driven, organized, and impatient. I had to chuckle when my husband and I welcomed our firstborn son into the world exactly on his due date. “He’s already got my stubborn streak about being on time,” I joked.
After I left a fast-paced programming job to become a stay-at-home mom, moments of waiting on God seemed even more unbearable. The first four months of Thomas’ life, I begged God to take away my postpartum depression. Why couldn’t He whip my dreary mood to joy the instant I asked? I was a new mother with a perfect baby — and I was miserable. Why wait?
At that time, my husband’s job also became more demanding, taking him overseas for a week or two at a time. Those lonely days without him, trying to tame fatigue, keep my baby fed and the house in order, shoved me to a near mental and physical collapse. God, please help my husband find a better job where he can be home more. I can’t handle this! Why wait?
More recently we had to make a move. The first order of business was to sell the house. Our son was now five, but we had also been blessed with a sweet baby girl. Potential buyers always seemed to make inconvenient appointments during Sara’s naptime. Keeping the house clean with two young children became increasingly difficult.
Months passed . . . then a year. I stopped counting after thirty house showings. The feedback from real estate agents again and again announced “problems” that I already knew existed. Yes, I was fully aware that our farm-loving neighbors (our lot sizes were small) were beekeepers. Yes, I knew the bees picked the most opportune time to swarm — right when potential buyers walked into our back yard.
Yes, the renters next door were large-dog lovers; their pit bull and Rottweiler barked viciously at clients.
As each negative review poured in, our financial stability sank. The “issues” with our house were beyond my control. I had prayed for a buyer — pleaded with God for a buyer. Dear heavenly Father, why wait? I want this house sold now!
After eighteen months with our house on the market, we finally signed papers. Little did I know all that delay had purpose. Throughout the move and the first few months in our new place, it was finally evident why God had seemingly given us the “silent treatment.”
Because of the timing, I ran into a lady I hadn’t seen in years. Little did she know a battle with cancer was looming on her horizon. We both benefited from developing a lifelong bond as we cried and prayed through those long days and surgery, until she was declared cancer free.
Once we finally sold and had to move, signing the lease to a townhome (not in my plan) gifted me another unexpected gem.
Two doors down lived a Muslim family from Pakistan. One afternoon as I was walking, I spotted the mom outside. I took in a breath of courage and introduced myself. Despite differences in religion, our relationship blossomed into a close and strong friendship that continues to this day.
In hindsight, I was also in jeopardy of completely bypassing a chance for God to strengthen my faith and trust in Him. I had asked Him repeatedly why the wait was so long. He gently reminded me that when we take smaller steps, and as our slower journey presses down earth into a trail, a clearer pathway for others to follow emerges.
I thought about the months lost in dark depression after the birth of our son. I remembered the incredible love and strength of family and friends who carried me daily through the agony. I had learned invaluable lessons on endurance and keeping life in perspective, praising the Lord even when I didn’t feel like it. With compassion, I could now council other new moms burdened with unwelcomed sorrow when they should feel happy.
My husband’s job? A better opportunity for him came in God’s time. If he hadn’t been patient with his current situation, he would have missed the new job offer.
Words of encouragement were now easy to speak to those who had given up on better employment. And when Margaret, through sobs on the phone, told me of the difficulties of their recent move to another city, I made her cry with laughter when I told her of our “beekeeper” and attack dog experience.
It was going to be OK. Just trust Him, I assured her.
Redeeming the wait
Wait? Why not? Second Corinthians 1:3, 4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
God is not wasteful. Our precious time is never “lost” when we feel absolutely nothing is happening. He delights when I can “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). What matters is how we use this wearisome time to look, listen, and learn.
Waiting, I’ve discovered, is like an anchor that grips and drags the rocky floor bed of our pathway in life. It keeps us from cruising full speed past God’s lessons, His blessings, and His love.
Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.