Does anyone really like to wait? Am I the only one with a less-than-great attitude when there are ten people in the checkout line at the store and there is only one register open? Or how about when you arrive at your favorite restaurant and they say to check back after 45 minutes?
I dislike any sort of delay, detour, slowdown or setback. In my mind, it’s unproductive and inefficient. However, I believe God is slowly transforming my view of waiting.
Lamentations 3:25 says, “the LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” God is not only good to those who wait for Him, but He also longs and waits to lavish us with His grace. Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” While these verses are encouraging, I have still found it to be a challenge to persevere and be patient when waiting seems more like a punishment than a blessing.
However, I have come to learn that when we are waiting on God, He’s not just wasting time or having us wait for no reason. As our loving Father, He ordains seasons of waiting. I believe God has a purpose for us in what we view as short and even long delays. He doesn’t have us wait to aggravate us, but it’s so He can work something new in us in order to shape our hearts and desires to be more like His. It could also be that our season of waiting isn’t just for our benefit but for those around us who are watching us wait.
Infertility & the Struggle of Waiting
After my husband, Rob, and I had been married for two years, we decided we had experienced enough quiet, elegant restaurants and sleeping in late on the weekends, and we wanted to start our family. We were young and healthy, so when we didn’t get pregnant after the first month of trying, or the second month, or even after the second year, we were shocked, discouraged, and disappointed. I prayed, and I begged God for a child. It was during this season of waiting that my doctor encouraged me to seek fertility treatments.
Since Rob and I are both in the medical field, the thought of fertility treatments was favorable to me, as I knew it would quickly increase our changes of getting pregnant. After praying about interventions including IVF, we sensed God wasn’t leading us down this road. Even though we weren’t against fertility treatments in general, I knew that for us, this wasn’t what God had planned. Instead of pursing a medical treatment, we decided to pray and wait, believing that God could work a miracle and that no good thing would He withhold from us (Ps. 84:11).
Each time I attended a baby shower and heard a pregnancy announcement, I was happy for that couple’s gift from God, but I was also sad because Rob and I didn’t have what our hearts desired. During most of our season of infertility, I worked as a Physician’s Assistant (PA) in an Emergency Department in Chicago. I remember on multiple occasions telling women that their pregnancy tests were positive, only to have them cry out in anger or disappointment.
While these women were distraught, I was filled with shock and sadness that they got to hear the news that I longed to hear from my doctor. I asked God why in His sovereignty He allowed for me to see those patients. I wondered why He was knitting together babies for other women who didn’t even want to be mothers, while I was barren and longed for a baby. I’m still not sure why God allowed this to happen multiple times, but I do know that He was close to me in the midst of my sorrow and brokenness (Ps. 34:18).
During the two years of waiting and praying, there were days when I barely thought about infertility and then others when I could hardly think about anything else. I always assumed infertility would never be a part of our story. Or perhaps because of my aversion to waiting, I never wanted it to be a part of our story.
Thankful for the Wait
Even though I never would have wished for such a long season of infertility, I can now say I am so thankful to God for it. After moving from Houston to Chicago in 2009, Rob and I took a trip back to Houston in the fall of 2010 to visit friends. On Sunday morning, we visited the church had we previously attended. That day, the pastor prayed specifically for those struggling with infertility. As we raised our hands for prayer, I didn’t realize that God was in fact answering our prayers. About one month after that service, we found out we were pregnant! Nine months later, our precious daughter and gift from God was born. We named her Ellyana, which in Hebrew means “my God has answered.”
Why am I thankful for the years of infertility and that we didn’t get pregnant right away? Because in the season of waiting, I came to know God in a way I wouldn’t have without it. Before infertility, I knew in my head that God was in control and that from His throne in heaven, He intervened on earth. Through the birth of Ellyana, I came to know this truth in my heart and experience it firsthand. God on His throne was no longer just a comforting thought but a reality. I discovered that beyond a shadow of a doubt, God heard our prayers and answered our request for a child.
God’s reign over us is described throughout the Bible:
But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice (Ps. 9:7).
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever (Ps. 29:10).
The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth (Ps. 33:13–14).
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne (Ps. 47:8).
The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! (Ps. 99:1).
But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations (Ps. 102:12).
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! (Ps. 123:1).
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in (Isa. 40:22 NIV).
The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who ministers in the sanctuary and true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man (Heb. 8:1–2 BSB).
Through our season of infertility, I didn’t get a vision of God sitting on the throne, but I now have an inner knowing that He reigns, which I could never deny. I am reminded of God’s rule and reign over us every time I look into my daughter’s precious face. My daughter’s life is also a constant reminder that God answers prayer, according to His perfect timing.
If You Are Weary in Waiting
For those of you who may be waiting on God to answer your prayer or if you are struggling with infertility, I know it is very challenging. Maybe you have prayed for a child and God hasn’t answered your prayer. It can be heartbreaking, infuriating, and just plain hard. God’s ways can be mysterious and difficult to understand from a human perspective, but we can always trust in His infinite wisdom and steadfast love. Maybe God will answer your prayers through your own pregnancy or maybe in a different way. He may give you biological children, children through adoption, or He may bless you with many spiritual children. Even when He doesn’t give us what we want, we can trust in His good plans and unchanging character.
Understanding that God is on the throne has brought peace and reassurance in so many areas of my life. If you are waiting, be on the lookout for how God might be revealing Himself to you in a new way. As you seek Him with all of your heart, He promises that you will find Him (Jer. 29:13). What a promise! In your season of waiting, God could also be fashioning your heart to be more like His. He may use this time to change your desires into His desires or to create a greater passion for Him. In His grace, may we get to the place where we want Him more than we want the answer to our prayers.
If you are waiting for God to provide something in your life, some well-intentioned Christians may have asked things like, “Have you really surrendered this to God?” “Do you have enough faith?” “Do you have unconfessed sin in your life?” While these are important questions, God cannot be reduced to a formula in that if you do this or that, then He’ll grant your request. However, we see throughout the Bible that we do need to submit to God’s authority, repent of any sin, and live in obedience to His Word.
When I was a teen, my mom used to say that God can’t bless unblessable behavior. Our behavior is important, but what’s most important is that our hearts are fully His. I believe that if we live in a way that is honoring to God, we can trust Him to be creative enough to work in our lives in a unique way. Instead of comparing your life to that of someone else, rejoice in the fact that God has a unique, tailor-made plan for your life that is distinctive from those around you.
The God of Hope
In sharing my story (which is challenging for this private introvert), my desire is that you would not lose hope in your season of waiting, because God is the God of all hope (Rom. 15:13). He sits on the throne both now and forever. He still hears and answers our prayers.
So, the next time you find yourself waiting in a long line somewhere or waiting for years for an answer to prayer, remember that God is in control and He always has divine purposes in the pauses.
And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:9–11).