I watch her face light up as she shares the story of how the answer came in just the right way, at just the right time. I see the truth of it sparkling in her eyes, and it makes my heart hurt a little. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for her, for His goodness in her journey. And I feel the spark of hope in the briefest way as I tell myself again, if He remembered her, surely He will remember me.
And yet, for almost a decade I have been pleading for the miracle, the answer, the promise. I have mentioned it in every prayer, sometimes within each breath, always there is the asking. Even still, I wait.
Perhaps you are waiting too. You know about the pleading, the asking, the wondering why the answer doesn’t come. Maybe you have been a bridesmaid, but still find yourself waiting for your white dress moment. Or you might have already driven into your new life in that small car with “just married” painted onto the back-window and dreams of starting a new family, but it’s been five years and still no children come. Maybe you are waiting for a job, waiting on healing, waiting to not feel so lonely anymore. Yes, I wonder if you know this place, the waiting place.
As hard as it is, I am realizing that there are lessons to be found in this place. Sweet lessons won from the bitter moments, from the slow days, from the years filled with longing. Lessons that could not come in any other way.
There was that Spring when Greg had been out of a job for months. We had gone through our savings, gone through our reserves, we had almost gone through our hope. We were empty. Still, every day we prayed ––that the job would come soon, that it would come tomorrow, that the opportunity God held in store would come right now. I remember vividly the month of January, when the Christmas bills came through with the pending house payment and the medical bills piling up and that trip to the grocery store when my card was declined again, and I desperately wondered why our constant prayer was going unanswered. Yes, for as long as I live I won’t forget that January.
It was in March that the job finally came. On the day we closed the young mother selling the business spoke tenderly about the month of January. How every single day she and her children prayed for just a few more weeks, just a few more days, just give us tomorrow before her husband would lose his fight with cancer and they would finally place the business up for sale. She told my husband how they would never forget that January, how they prayed it would last forever. I couldn’t help but think of our desperate January pleas, and their desperately January pleas, and a loving Father who listened and balanced them both. A Father who poured out His mercy in just the right places at just the right times and how sometimes when it is hard to trust His timing we must learn to trust His heart. It is a lesson I would never have learned unless I had spent time in The Waiting Place.
The children of Israel spent 40 years in the waiting. Their discouragement is evident on almost every page. I read about the letting go of God, the fear winning out over the hope of the promise, the tiring of the tender mercies along the way. There, within the wilderness, belief was either won or lost. But not for lack of trying on the part of Jesus. In the second chapter of Deuteronomy I come across the truth of it. “For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou has lacked nothing.” (Deuteronomy 2:7)
Why has it taken me so long to notice that the Lord wasn’t just watching the journey, He was in the journey? He knew about the walking because He was right there with them. In the wilderness. For forty years. To make sure they lacked for nothing. I read the verses and I understand, If He was there for Israel in the wilderness, then He will be here for me in the waiting place. He will walk with me for as long as it takes until the promise comes. Somehow I must learn to recognize Him within the walking through. Yes, there is something about the understanding that comes when God doesn’t answer right away. Something powerful to be found in the moments when He lets us wait.
Someday there will be an end, an answer, and a promise. If it was true for Israel, it will hold true for me and you. And maybe, years from now, when you look back, you might discover that this moment, this waiting place, was one of the most precious moments of your life.
Because it led your heart to understand His.
Emily Belle Freeman is a nationally-acclaimed speaker and best-selling author of six books, including the forthcoming, EVEN THIS: GETTING TO THE PLACE WHERE YOU CAN TRUST GOD WITH ANYTHING. A gifted communicator, Freeman is passionate about studying the teachings of Jesus and finding applications in everyday life. As a wife to husband Greg for more than 25 years and mother to five adult children, Freeman finds her greatest joy in loving her family. Emily and Greg reside in Lehi, Utah. They are in the process of opening the “Buena Vida” orphanage in La Mision, Mexico. For more information, please visit EmilyBelleFreeman.com.
Image courtesy: ©Unsplash/Photo by Felix Russell-Saw
Publication date: September 12, 2017