When Waiting is Hard

July 26, 2013 | 21 comments

So there is this thing I have been waiting for.

The “thing” isn’t as important as what we humans do while waiting for our “things” to happen. My thing is a thing I have been praying about — begging for really — like a red-faced toddler before a holy God. I may or may not have thrown myself on the living room floor, and then stiffened my limbs.

I also have demonstrated more rational, grown-up responses, like daily surrendering it to God, reading Scripture and asking trusted friends to pray.

Just the other day, a friend, who knows about my thing, sent me a text with a Spurgeon quote:  “Stand still—keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long before God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, ‘Go forward!'”

My friend knew it. Spurgeon knew it. Scriptures are super-clear about it:  Wait on the Lord.

Wait. Not run ahead, manage outcomes for God, set an alarm on the Lord’s iPhone to remind Him of your deadline. He is not in a hurry like we are.

Elisabeth Elliott once said that waiting on God is a “willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question.”

Waiting is a persistent, but sometimes painful, expectancy. It makes your soul itch. And you swear, the clock ticks slower. It really does feel like the watched pot never boils, the stalked phone never rings, the traffic never moves, the prodigal tarries.

Except that the wait will end. One way or another, the wait will end with an answer — maybe not the answer you want, but an answer. Watched pots actually do boil.

I don’t know what your “thing” is. But I’m guessing there’s a thing: an unreturned phone call, a job application being reviewed, an uncomfortable silence between you and a good friend.

But maybe, like my friend said, the best thing to do is to stand still until you sense God saying: “Go forward.”

I messaged my friend back:

“OK. I will ‘stand still.’ Though He may have to tie me to a tree. With really good knots.”

And she responded: “And maybe a padlock or two. I’m standing with you.”

Today, may you be granted sturdy padlocks and a good friend who’s willing to wait with you.

The water will boil.


by | July 26, 2013 | 21 comments


  1. Nikki Lever

    Thank you!

  2. ro elliott

    I friend sent me some notes she found from a study of Nehemiah…one quote…be prepared in longsuffering to suddenly be called by The Lord for a journey or service. Yes…may we bind our hearts to His…letting Him hold us in Him until…such a time as this….

    I love the pics of your daughters….have a great weekend….enjoy the Tree 🙂

  3. Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    Seasonal waiting is the hardest. Just recently I realized how much God waits for ME. Puts things in perspective. Thank you for these beautiful words reminding me that God is not in a hurry 😀
    PS…Do we get to pick what kind of tree? I’d like an Oak please.

  4. Laura Brown

    Yeah, I have a thing. A few things, actually. And you’re right — getting out ahead because I think we know where we’re headed always results in me getting stuck, embarrassingly, in a dead end.

    I’ll watch the pot(s) and wait. Thank you.

  5. Debbie

    I love “It makes your soul itch.” Would have never thought of it like it, but it is such a true description.

  6. Dea

    I am thankful there are plenty of trees to go around :)….

  7. Tiffany

    Thank-you for sharing! I’m having a hard time waiting right now too, and this gave me a little extra encouragement. 🙂

  8. Kimberlee Conway Ireton

    Oh my. “Waiting is hard.” Jennifer, I just wrote that in my journal last weekend, when I desperately wanted to jump the gun about my own thing even though I knew that would be stupid. I love God’s sense of humor–and confirmation 🙂

    Also, that Elisabeth Elliott quote: amazing. I’m going to copy it into my journal. Do you know which book it’s from?

  9. Megan Willome (@meganwillome)

    Along the lines of the Spurgeon/Moses thing, I noticed this odd juxtaposition in Exodus 14:14-15 this week: “The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still.
    Then the LORD said to Moses: Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to set out.”

    See it? Keep Still and Set Out right next to each other. Keep Still always comes first, but Set Out usually follows on its heels.

    P.S. Verse 14 was my mom’s radiation verse. Both times (1984 & 2008).

  10. lorisprayercloset

    Oh….I have been there. Actually something like 21 years now. Waiting for the time to make a move back to my hometown, sometimes I think I have missed it, but I know it will happen when its meant to even if I missed it the first time around…..Loved this.

  11. Ann Kroeker

    You are surrounded with wisdom, Jennifer. You’ve made sure you have wise counsel on hand, and look how they carry you through, with truth. And humor. I’m glad you’re in my life, to remind me of these things.

  12. Lea

    What an encouragement and what truth!!! I am usually always waiting on something, somethings far greater than others, but I’ve lived long enough to know that His timing is absolutely perfect! Blessings to you!

  13. Suzanne

    Thank you – this helped. We are in the painful process of waiting for a medical outcome. Family friends of 20+ yrs, the parents of my daughters best friend, neighbors, our coparents so to speak in life were in a motorcycle accident one month ago today. Katie is in a rehab facility 4 hrs from home with a severe brain trauma injury. We pray unceasing she will return to us. altho we know not the outcome I expect God to return her in someway! I’m trying to learn patience and remain aware of how God is working for good thru all of this. I desperately long to text her about picking the kids up, carpool and school open house. I look into her daughters eyes and muster all my confidence and faith that if we wait God will answer our prayers.

    • Marcia

      Our 16 year old daughter suffered a severe brain injury in a car wreck last December Tori did not recover from her injury, but praise God she was a born again young lady so she is perfect, healthy and waiting for the rest of her family to join her in heaven one day. You will get an answer, just be aware that it may not be the answer you want-although I am praying for her full recovery. God will provide either way! My soul itches to be reunited with my baby and so many others but I know I must BE STILL AND WAIT FOR GODS GUIDING HAND!! That is hard for me but I pray for patience every day and will remember you and “your thing” in my prayers as well. God Bless You!!

  14. Laura Rath

    Jennifer, it’s like you wrote this for me today. My waiting feels impossible right now, the kind that makes me want to cry myself to sleep because I just cannot take it anymore.

  15. bettydraper1947

    Was encouraged this morning after reading your post. Like most who replied I am waiting too and to be honest have not been pleasant about it. Since I know truth I need to say I am sorry instead of waiting for the other person to do it. Both of us are wrong…but one has to start the process of forgiveness. Thanks.

  16. Jillie

    Yes, Jennifer…I too am “waiting”, but not very patiently.
    Good words today. Going into my “archives” to refer to again and again.
    Thanks so much—I needed this.

  17. Nannette and The Sweetheart

    Love this Jenifer…most popular post on my blog is The Waiting Room…a stranger on Twitter asked if she could make a short drama out of it for their church, lol. It hits that close to home! What do we do in the Waiting? The Bible does give us some direction. Bless your sweet heart for sharing!

  18. Nancy Ruegg

    Thank you, Jennifer, for your reassurance that we’ll make it through the wait, and for giving us strategies, too, “like daily surrendering it to God, reading Scripture and asking trusted friends to pray.” God undoubtedly has lessons for us to learn as we wait. Surrender, trust, and humility (which your strategies would teach) are surely among his goals. Also love the Spurgeon and Elizabeth Elliott quotes you chose. Very meaningful!

  19. rkrumpe94

    I am waiting too and leaning into that tree that holds me up. Resting on it. I am tired of standing alone so I am leaning in and on and finally I am finding rest in the waiting. I know this is a little redundant but that is how waiting is…continually reminding myself to be patient, constantly laying down my will. Blessings! Love, Rachael



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