In the Meantime (Part 2)
How can we keep on hoping when we’ve suffered let down after let down and when disappointment routinely makes it so hard? How can we keep on waiting for God when we are so overwhelmed? How can we continue to wait faithfully when maybe you’ve already been waiting for a year, 2 years, 5 years or longer and it seems that God still hasn’t answered the prayer, saved the day, or ended the misery? How can we respond, right now in the meantime, when everything seems upside down and messed up and we have no idea how long we are going to have to wait?
Isaiah 40:39; “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
Lamentations 3:25:“The LORD is good to those who wait for Him.”
Proverbs 20:22 “Wait for the LORD and He will save you.” in other words, wait for the LORD so that He will make everything right.
Psalm 25:3 says, “Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed/or disappointed"
From just these verses we see that God is good to those who wait for Him, God will save/make things right for those who wait for Him, no one who waits for God will be ashamed/disappointed.
However, for many of us who have been waiting on God for a long time, we may feel disappointed with God. Why has He not shown up yet? I’ve been praying and praying for my daughter, my son, my wife, or my husband. I’ve been begging and begging for Him to heal the illness, fix my marriage, find a job, help us with our bills, and where is God?
The questions is, what will we do with this disappointment? What will we do when we feel our patience with God running thin and disappointment with God creeping in? We have two options.
1. We Allow our Disappointment with God to Nosedive us into Discontent with God
We give our disappointment permission to fester. We stew in our bitterness with God and mull over all the times God could have done something, but He did nothing. All those times, if you were God, you would have done something different, but God seemed indifferent. We become obsessive about God’s mishandling of our situation. We blame God for botching up our life. At the very core of this discontentment with God is our lack of satisfaction with God.
We may not realise it or want to admit it, but we often believe there is more satisfaction in our circumstances, our marriage, our work, our health, our hobbies, than in Jesus. We begin to believe that when things are good, God is good and when things are are not good, God is no longer good. Without knowing it our circumstances become the measure of God’s goodness to us. If this is how we measure God’s goodness then we will always be dissatisfied with God when things don’t go our way. As we allow our circumstances to cause us to doubt the goodness of God more and more, our hope weakens more and more.
Eventually we will do try to things our own way in our own strength. Hope will be weakened and eventually lost.
2. We Allow our Disappointment with God to Drive us to Greater Dependency on God
Your circumstances are not the measure of God’s goodness, the cross is. A God who wouldn’t withhold His one and only Son from you, but rather handed Him over for you, is a God who will, in the end, not disappoint you. That’s why you can allow your disappointment to drive you to a greater dependency on God. He will not disappoint you in the end. Yes, right now, you may feel disappointed. I’ve been there. But God is good and He has a good reason for all the junk happening, though you can’t see it now. Finding our satisfaction in God, rather than our circumstances results in a defiant and resolute hope.
But how do those of us, whose faith right now feels so fragile, take the first step to arriving at this defiant hope; this hope that is resilient and unwavering in the face of our difficult circumstances? For me, the first step has always looked like Job, just sitting in the dust. Like Jeremiah, sinking down in the cistern’s mud. Like Paul, abandoned and alone. It has looked like me mad at God, but then still opening my Bible and reading and burning into my brain what the Bible says is true about God, not what my circumstances make me feel is true about God. When I am tired of waiting and so overwhelmed by disappointed it hurts, I allow my disappointment to drive me back to the only One who can satisfy me; the One who is worth waiting for, the one worth hoping in.
The good news is we don't have to be strong to wait on God. In fact, I actually do my best waiting when I’m keenly aware of my own lack of strength. When I come face to face with the truth that I am just not strong enough, that I am actually a very weak person, who needs someone stronger; who needs an anchor. You don’t have to be strong, but you do have to fight hard for your hope when your world all around you wants to choke it out. You have to be determined to not lose hope in the One who will strengthen you and the One who will never leave you. And you can take comfort in the fact that it is Jesus’ strength which will strengthen your hope when you’re tired and disappointed.
Look to the Word
Yes, you may feel burned out, devastated by disappointment. But don’t just look around at your circumstances, look into God’s word and see that He is good. And although you don’t understand why things are going the way they are and all this junk seems to just keep on happening to you, you know God is more reliable than what your eyes see. Turn off the noise all around you that tries to tear your focus away from what you know is true about God. Turn off your stewing and fuming. Then do it all over again tomorrow. Each day, whether you feel like it or not, fall out of bed and get alone with God and open His word. Shut up the voices in your head that will want to contradict what you’re reading. Those cynical voices that keep pulling your focus away from God back to your circumstances. Then take that truth that renewing, strength generating, life-sustaining truth with you into the battle that will be waged against your hope that day.
Look to the Cross
The true measure of God’s goodness is that He did not withhold His one and only Son from us, but handed Him over for us, so God wouldn’t lose us. We look to Jesus, who was so determined to save us and satisfy us, He entered the world and willingly suffered disappointment after disappointment, let down after let down, and heartache after heartache on our behalf. We can have a hope that is untouched by our circumstances because we are becoming wholly and totally satisfied with who God is - this God who loves us so much He gave His Son for us.
Those who wait for the LORD will not be disappointed; they will not regret they waited. The LORD is good to those who wait. Keep on waiting and He will pull your through. It may not look how you want Him to do it and most likely it will not be when you want Him to do it, but you will not be disappointed with Him when He does.
Come what may, right now - in the meantime - set your hope in God who, though He hides His ways from us, is always fighting for us. You can do this, you can fight back against the noise of your circumstances, shut up the derailing voices in your own head, and find the renewing, hope strengthening, life-sustaining power of Jesus.
Eric Austin holds his Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, USA. After almost seven years as a pastor he stepped out of vocational ministry to support his wife in her recovery of Borderline Disorder (BPD). Eric was born and has lived his life with an extremely rare bone disease, a disease which has profoundly impacted his personal views on suffering. In recent years, as a result of walking alongside his wife’s own suffering, he has learned the emotional and psychological pain that often comes from living with a loved one having a personality disorder. Eric is passionate about teaching the Bible and seeing the grace of God radically alter people into looking more like Jesus through the suffering that has drastically altered their lives. He is the host of The Altered Podcast a podcast in which he attempts to do just this. Eric lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA with his wife Heidi and three children.