Encouragement For the Pauses in Life
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Many times I have been discouraged and disappointed, questioning God as I wait on him to answer my prayers. But I am learning to view these pauses in life with a new perspective that has helped me not only endure them, but maybe even have some peace and joy through them. Here are some of the lessons I have learned while waiting for God to answer my prayers. My hope is that they will encourage you as you wait too.
1. God is with me in the pauses.
King David was around ten years old when he was anointed the next King of Israel. But he spent the next 15 years in some pretty lonely and long pauses. He went back to shepherding sheep, not a palace. He later killed a giant, played music for King Saul, and then ran for his life from that same king. He had desperate times hiding in caves with his family and a crew of rebels while trying to faithfully serve God. I’m sure he questioned God as he wondered if he would ever be king. Fifteen years is a long time to wait, especially when you know it is the Lord’s will.
But God was with David even when he didn’t understand what was going on. These long years of waiting were essential for the next phase of his life – the responsibility of governing a nation. God was maturing David even though at times it must have felt like God had forgotten him.
2. Pauses are part of the plan.
Just think what would have happened if David had tried to take the throne on his own. He probably would have been killed or if he had survived, would not have been ready to reign and the nation would have suffered. In his case and sometimes ours, the waiting times are for our own welfare. They are part of God’s plan.
“Pauses are places meant to strengthen our resolve,
not weaken our faith.” – Wendy Pope
These times of waiting are actually more important than reaching our goal. How we act while waiting, what we learn, what it produces in us and the process of becoming like Christ is the true goal. James writes that if we let “endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, we will be perfect and completely developed in our faith, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4 AMP)
David knew what was prophesied for his future – he would be king of Israel. We don’t know what is ahead for us and what today’s pauses might be preparing us for.
3. Misconceptions during the pauses.
Our mind can be our biggest enemy during times of waiting. We might wrongly be telling ourself that God didn’t hear our prayer or we must not be praying enough. Maybe you are thinking you just don’t have enough faith or maybe what you want is not God’s will for your life. Don’t view the waiting time as punishment, God withholding his love, or that he is not hearing your prayers.
I sometimes berate myself because I feel like I should be able to trust God at this point in my life. But then I realized that faith is also a muscle that needs exercising. When I workout my body gets stronger. I don’t expect it to stay that way if I only workout for two weeks and then stop. Eventually my body gets weak again and so does our faith muscle. It gets stretched and strengthened each time I need to trust God in whatever trial I am facing. I stopped getting down on myself for having a weak faith muscle and started realizing God was trying to help me strengthen it.
4. We live in the pauses.
James also writes that we are to count it all joy when we face trials (James 1:2) and honestly when we are going through them that is the last thing we want to hear. But when you stop and think about your life, a lot of it has been spent waiting – and waiting is a trial! Waiting to finish school, waiting to get married, waiting for the right job or a promotion, waiting to get pregnant, get your first house, receive a healing, or see a prodigal child come home. Even after we finish one waiting period, a new one starts. A new goal, dream, or trial faces you. So much of life is spent waiting, it truly is our life.
Just because you’re waiting doesn’t mean you’re not exactly
where you are suppose to be.
The birds that I feed wait on the hook of my feeder when it is empty. They have no way of understanding who I am, or why there is no food. They just know that if they wait, the seed may eventually be there.
We are like that little bird. We cannot understand God’s ways or his timing any more than that bird can comprehend why he has to wait. Why there is no food. Yet, God says he cares for each little sparrow (Luke 12:6) How much more does he care for us? The pauses are just part of life.
5. God is waiting too.
We forget that God waits too, longing to answer our prayers and meet our needs. Isaiah 30:18 says
. . . for the Lord waits [expectantly] and longs to be gracious to you, . . . He waits on high to have compassion on you. Blessed [happy] are all those who long for Him [since He will never fail them].
I think God waits to give to us just like a parent waits to give their child a birthday present. The day is coming when the gift will be given, but sometimes it is only the parent who understands the concept of time and when that day will be. Both wait in expectation, in confidence because they know and love each other.
We are the child who doesn’t understand time nor see the big eternal picture. God just wants us to wait believing that he truly is a loving Father whether we receive our desire or not.
The next time the enemy whispers in your ear discouraging words, remember that God has not abandoned you, his pauses are part of the plan, and you are becoming spiritually stronger every day.
And if peace is still hard to find, maybe these wise words from Elisabeth Elliot will encourage you as they did me.
“…the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by his letting us have our way in the end, but by his
making us wait,
bearing with us in love and patience until we are able
to honestly pray what he taught his disciples to pray:
Thy will be done.”