What I've Learned in Marriage-12-Everything good requires waiting. You have to wait to grow up, graduate from high school and then college. You have to wait to meet the person you will marry, and then wait (at least a little while) before you are married. When you get pregnant, you have to wait around 9 months before the baby is born. We acquire nothing without waiting, but why?
First, most things take time. It takes time to grow, eighteen years to reach legal age. It takes time for a baby to mature in a mother’s womb. It takes time to get to know a person and plan a wedding. Some things take more time than others. And often we try to push so that it won’t take as long as it should. That usually does not end well. Kids try to grow up too fast and not only miss out on some of the fun of being a kid, but also end up making mistakes that they may have avoided if they had waited until they were ready. Some people rush in to marriage only to find out that the person they married isn’t who they thought. Some women try to induce labor early and risk their baby not developing completely. Some people try to force change in another person rather than waiting for God to work and end up getting in God’s way, consequently delaying the change.
I think the reason why things take time, why we have to wait, is because it is process. Growth doesn’t happen in an instant. The journey is just as important as the end, possibly more so. It takes time to grow ourselves, to gain some virtue of character like kindness. If you are waiting for God to work in another person, especially a spouse, it may seem like nothing is happening and your prayers are fruitless. But God has a lot of work to do inside that person and you won’t see any outward change until the inward work is finished. You have to wait. But don’t wait in idleness, use that time to seek God and His will, spend your time in prayer. Let God work.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 NASB
Last winter, my toddler broke his leg which required a body cast for almost 5 weeks. We had to wait for his leg to heal before we could take the cast off. It required not only physical healing for him, but also emotional healing for me. If I had impatiently counted down the minutes until his cast came off and focused on how awful the experience was for all of us, I would have grown bitter and caused damage to myself and my family. The alternative was to seek God through it all and remain joyful and thankful, not that he was hurt, but that it wasn’t worse, that God was taking care of us and we had an awesome team at the hospital to work with. Unfortunately, I chose the first. It only took a month for my son’s leg to heal, but I am still dealing with the repercussions of not only the trauma of the situation but also my selfish response to it.
I am now responding as I should have to begin with. I did seek God then, but mainly to complain. Now I seek God’s will and truly surrender my circumstances to Him. I accept my circumstances as the process through which I will receive some good from Him that I could never have received otherwise. I take the opportunity to grow as He would have me. I have learned that adversity proves what is truly inside of us, not to God but to ourselves. What I found was not pretty. I should have known better. I should have reacted differently. I shouldn’t have given in to self pity. But I did. And I can’t change that, but I can change how I act now. I can choose to act as God would have, rather than react through my emotions and allow them to control me. I can choose joy and thankfulness rather than bitterness.
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NASB (author’s emphasis)
Really what is at the seat of self pity and bitterness in waiting is the idea that 1-you deserve better and 2-that God doesn’t have your best in mind, that He made a mistake even. Both of those are wrong. We deserve nothing good in this life. Even the love and salvation we receive from God is a result of His mercy and grace alone, not because of anything to do with ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-10). And doubting that God has your best in mind, or believing that He made a mistake are both calling God a liar, because His Word says that He does have your best in mind and that He is in control of everything. He can’t make a mistake.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:28,37-39 NASB
If you are waiting for something not in adversity, (say a baby, or a wedding) don’t rush it, enjoy the ride. These are memories you will never be able to recreate. If you are in adversity you have a choice: to waste your waiting period with impatience and bitterness or make the most of it by seeking God and submitting to His will for your life, to believe that you have been wrongfully treated by God or to trust in His love and goodness. Which will you choose?