You would think that after all of the times I’ve prayed and waited for God to answer, I would be an expert by now! I’m not, although I’m much better at it than I used to be.
Usually when I think I’ve waited long enough, I’m ready for the next thing in life or I’ve learned all there is to learn, God still makes me wait. Today I was thinking about where I am in the waiting season that I’m experiencing right now. I’ve overcome, I’ve learned a lot and I’m ready! But I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that God wants to develop in me more than just the skills needed for the next season of my life. He wants to build in us character traits — those subtle, invisible, foundational, necessary things that we need in order to hold us up as we go forward in God’s plan.
What is one character trait that God seems to think is most important? Endurance. But just when I think I’ve learned how to stick things out and wait on God, I realize He’s not just after endurance. Oh no, He desires something much greater. He doesn’t want me to simply grit my teeth and hang on for dear life. No, He wants me to be hopeful, trusting and patient. Patient endurance. It’s the toughest, most unpleasant trait to learn. I cringe even as I think of it. It’s only developed through waiting….and waiting….and waiting (along with some pain).
As I pondered why God desires to develop patient endurance in us, I began to understand that we can’t effectively serve Him and further His Kingdom on earth if we waver and sink in the mud every time something difficult comes across our path. We need to be able to stand firm, be a strong witness and stay faithful as God leads us through life.
Years ago, during a long waiting season, I made a few choices that were, what most sensible people would call, compromises. The longer I waited on God (months turned into years), the facts of my situation began to be a little blurry. The long, excruciating waiting time made things a little less clear. Options that were wrong before began to look pretty good (anything to get me out of the mire of waiting). Making choices to get things rolling along in life seemed right (giving myself some control over the situation).
God did finally answer my prayer in a wonderful way, although a little patient endurance would have helped me make fewer mistakes as well as experience more joy along the way. Since then I’ve entered another season of waiting on God to answer an important prayer. I’m pleased to tell you that I now have a little bit of patient endurance! I see such a difference in me; I trust God more. I know that He is in control. I mean, I really, really, know that He is in control. I’m resting in that truth, which means I’m trusting Him. I’ve placed my hope in God because His Word says that no one who hopes in Him will ever be disappointed.
It’s not fun to learn the character trait of patient endurance. I’m still learning step by step, day by day. But I can say that I’m joyful and even happy in spite of the fact that I’m waiting on God to answer my prayer!