Before each young woman was taken to the king’s bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. Esther 2:12 (NLT)
Do you ever feel like you are stuck? Maybe stuck in the same place? Or stuck waiting for an answer to prayer that doesn’t seem to come? Does the wait seem like it will never end?
About 8 months ago, I got word that a major source of revenue was going to dry up. As I assessed the situation, I knew we’d have to pull in our belts and I would need to make some money – quickly. At a loss, I went to my knees.
Almost immediately God started saying to wait. Every Bible text I got in my worship, every conversation with him kept reiterating the same thing. Wait. Be still. At first, I was frustrated with this response but when you hear something so clearly and so consistently, you begin to understand what you are to do. So I waited. It hasn’t been easy. One day I’d be fine with waiting. One day I wouldn’t. I felt like I was on an emotional and spiritual roller coaster.
As I was praying one night, God brought the story of Esther to mind. She had huge waiting periods. The first being the year-long wait she had before being taken in for her night with the king. During that year she would receive one year of beauty treatments. Normally, I would ask where I could sign up but in her case, each day and each treatment was a step toward something she wasn’t looking forward to. How did she handle this time of waiting? The Bible says in Esther 2:9 “Now the young woman pleased him [Hegai], and she obtained his favor; so he readily gave beauty preparations to her, besides her allowance.” And in Esther 2:15 “Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her.” From these Bible texts, it doesn’t seem like she was angry and bitter. She could have lashed out at everyone around her because life wasn’t fair and this outcome was forced upon her, but she didn’t. In the Bible it says that everyone who met her liked her and did favors for her. You don’t do that to people who are surly and blaming the world for their problems. She seems to have embraced the path she was on and trusted God to take care of her.
I have discovered that how you wait is important. What you focus on during your wait is critical to waiting successfully. Waiting is never easy. I wish I could say that when the frustration or fear set in that I looked to God for my comfort and all was well. I can’t say that. There are days (still) when I want to get on a plane and go sit on a beach somewhere so I can stop looking at my wait. I probably would have if I had some money. Maybe God knew that about me so he chose this particular scenario to get my attention. My wait is still ongoing but throughout this time God has been present. He talks to me intimately in ways that are meaningful and relevant. And my relationship with him has grown. There are still days I would prefer to be sitting on a beach somewhere but I wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned during my wait for all the money in the world.
If you are in a time of waiting, here are some things I have found that help me when I'm frustrated. First, know that God loves you. You are precious to him and while it may seem that he is inactive, he is not. He has a plan and as the Bible says his plans will prevail (Proverbs 19:21, Psalm 138:8). God is working. Remind yourself that even though it seems like things are falling apart, God's purposes are better than ours. No matter what is happening, what he is doing is better than what you can do (Isaiah 55:9). Finally, spend some time worshipping and praising him. While you are in prayer, give thanks every day for the blessings in your life. Sing, pray and read your Bible. Below are some verses that I have found comforting. You probably have some favorites of your own.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him. Lamentations 3:25 (ESV)
For since the world began,
no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for him! Isaiah 64:4 (NLT)
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)
Above all, don't give up. Keep holding on and walking forward. And when you can't do that, let the God who adores you hold you tight. He will.
Reflection: Are you in a time of waiting? If you are, how are you using this time to grow your relationship with God? When you become frustrated or afraid, what do you do to refocus your trust?