Seasons of Waiting: Walking By Faith When Dreams Are Delayed

We live in a world with a “What are you waiting for?” mentality, full of selfish ambitions and immediate gratification.

A godly spouse is worth the wait, but we don’t get a guarantee that will happen. Are you waiting for a husband? If you desire to marry, why hasn’t God provided that opportunity? Are you waiting for a child? What do you do when faced with infertility? Are you waiting for a place to call home? Isn’t that the American dream? Maybe it is more desperate than this. Maybe you are waiting for God to answer your prayers for physical healing. Is he listening? Maybe you are currently pleading with God to lead your prodigal child or spouse to repentance. Could you have done better? Will you ever know? Will you have to live like this forever?

 

This is a great topic for a book.  Most of us go through seasons of waiting for something, but do we wait well? The answer to that question often depends on what we are waiting for, how long it’s going to take, and whether our expectations are fulfilled. Maybe if we had those answers upfront, we wouldn’t be so anxious in the waiting. But the fact that we often don’t get those answers is where the agony of waiting sets in.

We live in a world with a “What are you waiting for?” mentality, full of selfish ambitions and immediate gratification. And yet some of our best treasures have a waiting room of sorts. Sometimes, that waiting doesn’t see fulfillment on this side of the resurrection.

A godly spouse is worth the wait, but we don’t get a guarantee that will happen. Are you waiting for a husband? If you desire to marry, why hasn’t God provided that opportunity? Are you waiting for a child? What do you do when faced with infertility? Are you waiting for a place to call home? Isn’t that the American dream? Maybe it is more desperate than this. Maybe you are waiting for God to answer your prayers for physical healing. Is he listening? Maybe you are currently pleading with God to lead your prodigal child or spouse to repentance. Could you have done better? Will you ever know? Will you have to live like this forever?

These are all chapters in Betsy Childs Howard’s book. She opens with a chapter explaining The School of Waiting, explaining, “Waiting exposes our idols and throws a wrench into our coping mechanisms. It brings us to the end of what we can control and forces us to cry out to God” (16). Our waiting isn’t a waste of time. It is a providential way God works for our sanctification. And how we live while we are waiting is a testimony of our faith.

Each of these chapters share stories of people waiting, Scriptural teachings, and ways our waiting serves as a parable. The above desires are good ones, and yet not all of them will be met in this lifetime. That is a long season of waiting. But Howards compassionately addresses how to live with unmet desires. And in each chapter, she drives home the true hope we are all waiting for, the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people on that great Day of Christ’s return.

This is an easy and encouraging read. It would make a great gift for someone who’s struggling through a season of waiting, questioning God’s purposes in it, and yet is too weary for a thick, theological tome. One caveat is that I do wish Howard added some more qualifications in her chapter on “Waiting for a Prodigal.”

I was glad to see a chapter on that topic, and she does offer some good teaching, notably, “The very best thing you could do for the prodigal in your life is to grow in your own faith” (82). However, because of the sin component involved in a prodigal’s life, there are some spiritual and practical areas that should be addressed in this waiting. So for example, what does our calling to love a child that is given to drug addiction look like? Some people think it is by enabling. And in the example of a habitual adulterous spouse, there is an abandonment issue that needs to be addressed, as well as physical danger.

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