The War in the Wait: Rejoicing in God When Living with an Unmet Desire
My phone beeped, and a text from a friend popped up on the screen. I didn’t need to read more than a few sentences to discern the pain and disappointment in her heart. She said, “Marian, I’m reaching out to you because I know you get it. I’m not sure I can handle waiting anymore.” She went on to share her frustration and fears concerning singleness and how she was beginning to lose hope. You see, my friend Whitney is waiting on God for a husband. She is beautiful, talented, loves Jesus, and starting to feel like a carton of milk with a looming expiration date. Most of her friends are now married, and she’s looking around her church, city, and community and doesn’t see prospects for a potential husband. In the absence of proof, her faith is under fire. She’s struggling to hold on to God in the midst of this unmet longing.
Her words brought back vivid memories of my own waiting season. The years seemed to drag by as I watched others find love, get married, and live “happily ever after.” The time I spent hosting other people’s bridal showers and then baby showers was a battle. I remember fighting rejection, self-pity, and feeling overlooked by both God and what seemed like every Christian man on the planet.
Whitney was right. I did get it—waiting is hard.
Waiting is not just something single women do as they wait on God for a husband. Life is filled with waiting seasons. I have other dear friends waiting on God for children. They long to be mothers and are trusting God to provide. I know another woman who is waiting upon the Lord to bring her prodigal child back home. She’s prayed. She’s fasted. She’s sought counsel, and now she watches for the child she loves to turn back to Jesus. I have another close friend who longs to serve God using her spiritual gifts, but she’s home with little ones and knows that this is not her season. So she waits for God’s timing.
As I read my friend’s text, I knew she wanted me to give her hope and to relieve some of the pain, but the last thing I wanted to give her was a trite response. I didn’t want to say, “Chin up buttercup; you’ll meet the right guy one day.” She deserved more than a band-aid, and I know all too well that Christian clichés can often hurt more than they heal. So I promised her that I would pray and ask the Lord for a word.
The word came very quickly. I sensed the Holy Spirit say, “The war is in the wait.”
What war? Oh, that one that has existed since the dawn of time, the battle is for our worship.
As we face faith testing seasons or periods when it feels like God has not answered our prayers, we will experience war for our worship. The enemy of our souls knows that we are vulnerable to attack in these days; therefore he aims his fiery darts filled with doubts, sinister suggestions about God’s character, and temptations to find life apart from Jesus directly at our fragile hearts. The goal of his attack is to destroy our devotion to God. He wants to separate us from the very one who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift—our Heavenly Father.
While I believe and hope God will provide a godly husband for my friend Whitney and a child for my friends who are waiting to become moms, what I can’t promise is when or how God will answer those prayers. What I can tell my friends (and myself) during waiting seasons is that there is a war in the wait.
Here’s the central issue at stake in the midst of the war: will we continue to press on in faith and stay committed to Jesus when the desires of our hearts seem to go unanswered?
The verse that came to mind to share with my friend is found in Habakkuk 3:17-19. It speaks of barren land, with no visible signs of life or God’s blessing. This desperate state was the physical state that the nation of Israel faced when Habakkuk spoke these words:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
Sometimes life feels this way. We strain our eyes to see a glimmer of hope on the horizon, and we see nothing. We search the trees to see a bloom and find not a single bud. In that barrenness, Habakkuk reminds us that there is a choice to trust God and worship even when our eyes can’t see what our hearts long for.
Yet I Will Rejoice in the Lord!
I know all too well that waiting seasons can seem like a barren place. It feels like everyone else is living the good life when you feel stuck and floundering in no-mans-land. We face the same choice as Habakkuk—to embrace self-pity and walk away from the Lord or embrace faith and choose to worship God in the midst of the wait.
Habakkuk’s response is incredible. He doesn’t deny reality nor does he pretend everything is fine. He is honest about the barrenness, yet he chooses to rejoice in the Lord despite his circumstances. What does it look like to rejoice in God when our heart’s desires are still unmet? Three things are essential:
Rejoice in the Lord Because He is good.
God is good. His character is unchanging. Even when we don’t understand why certain things are happening or not happening, we can trust His heart. Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
I recall during my season of singleness and waiting upon God for marriage that I clung to this truth: “No good thing does he withhold from me.” I reminded myself over and over again that if marriage were His best for me in that season, then the Lord would provide it. When I didn’t understand His ways, I could rejoice in God because I trust His heart. Sister, no good thing does He withhold from you!
Remember: God’s Delays Are Not God’s Denials.
Often we get depressed and anxious as we examine our lives because we believe life is supposed to go according to a timetable that we’ve established. Friends, God’s delays are not God’s denials. Here’s the thing about God… He is not limited by time, and His perfect will unfolds in ways we can’t conceive or imagine.
I was 37 years old when I met my husband. Far older than I ever imagined and by then I assumed I would never get married or have kids. But in God’s perfect timing, He brought my husband and TWO KIDS in one beautiful package. I call my stepsons my “bonus boys” because that is what they are—an incredible bonus gift from God.
Walk by Faith and Not by Sight.
Walking by faith is essential to winning the war in the wait. Faith chooses to say, “God I love you and trust you even though this is hard and even though my heart longs for _______________.” Remember, faith doesn’t deny reality; it just leaves room for a new reality. We must be real with God, but we also must choose to look at every aspect of our lives through the eyes of faith. The more we choose to believe God, claim His promises, stand on His Word, and not give ground to the enemy, the more we become women who are able to hope in God when we don’t see any tangible evidence of what we desire.
I pray these essentials help you rejoice in the Lord as you wait upon Him. Remember dear one, He is good, and no good thing does He withhold from you!
All my love,