I think, in the words of Tom Petty, that great theologian/rock star, that waiting is one of the hardest things we have to do. Think of some of the many times we have to wait in life:
- In line – at the grocery store, doctor’s office, ballpark, theatre, Disney World, etc.
- In traffic, going to and from work Monday through Friday. For some of us, this represents hours each day.
- For a job offer.
- For medical test results.
- For answers to prayer.
- And in many more instances.
One of my good friends was waiting to hear back on a job offer. He had three interviews for the position and was told that they had hoped to make a decision, but at least a week had gone by. He wondered if he would even hear back from the employer, and was convinced that he wasn’t going to get an offer. He just wanted to hear one way or the other.
When we are waiting for something of significance (job offer, medical test results, you fill in the blank), doubt can set in. I’ve heard people say that they are hoping and praying for the best, but preparing for the worst. We are particularly prone to the attacks of the enemy at these times, as our minds go back and forth with how we are going to deal with things if this happens, or if this happens.
My wife Tammy and I have gone through periods in our life of waiting for important medical test results. We prayed, and tried to rest in our sovereign God, but doubt and fear would creep in when we thought about what it would mean if the tests revealed the worst.
I’ve heard people say that worry is a sin, that it shows a lack of trust in God, and I understand the sentiment behind that thought. But even if we know and believe Romans 8:28, when the Apostle Paul tells us that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose, we live in the here and now, and sometimes our fears can just overwhelm us.
So, what are we to do in these times of waiting, which can be prolonged? Let’s say that you are facing an MRI in a week. You are anxious, and pray much during the time leading up to it, asking for peace and positive results. The day finally comes for the procedure, and then you are told that it will be another week before you get the results. It can be difficult to persevere during these times. I would suggest that you not only pray, but also ask others to pray for you. I would also suggest that you comfort yourself in the words of scripture. Look for how many ways the Bible says, ‘Fear Not’. God knows how we struggle with fear and desires to replace our anxiety with His peace.
I admit that I have not always wanted to share openly about my prayer requests. Some of that is because I’m a pretty private person, and also that even though well-intentioned, I didn’t want to have to respond to numerous questions about how I was doing, and whether I had heard the results of the tests. But that’s not a good approach. As believers, we should welcome the prayers of fellow believers, friends and family members.
In addition to prayer, comfort yourself in the words of scripture. Here are five passages that bring comfort to me, and hopefully will to you as well:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18
What else would you suggest for those times of waiting?