Sometimes the valleys of waiting seem as though they will never end. We lift up our voices in prayer, but they seem to go nowhere. This is where I was six years ago.
I wanted to believe God would work our situation for good. I wanted my faith to surpass my worry over the stack of bills in front of me and to trust him. But as the phone calls kept coming, my anxiety heightened.
My prayers became desperate pleas for help. We needed God to intervene. Our rental house on the other side of the country sat abandoned with hundreds of dollars worth of damage accumulating by the hour. This was a place we rented not out of want, but out of necessity and inability to sell. But the more I poured out my heart to the Lord, the more I seemed to hit a wall of silence.
How do we maintain our trust in God when our lives crumble around us and it doesn’t appear as though he’s listening?
When we read scripture about his character but don’t see them in our circumstances, how do we continue to hope?
During this difficult season in our family’s lives, it felt as though I was meandering through a fog. I longed for a fresh revelation from the Lord but came up empty. But even through my frustration and feelings of abandonment, God taught me some valuable truths about waiting.
These truths couldn’t be learned without tears and moments of desperation. They needed to be forged in the valleys where all I could do was simply say, “Jesus.” And even this one word, simple prayer was enough.
The longer I walk with God, the more I realize this: my feelings aren’t always indicators of truth. They are governed by my thoughts, which are often liars too. If things don’t work out how I think they should, they say things like:
This will never change.
God isn’t listening.
Why do you keep wasting your time?
You are in this alone.
These negative thoughts won’t go away by sheer willpower. I have to replace them with truth, even when the truth doesn’t feel valid at the moment. As I’ve walked through these valleys of waiting, I’ve learned some things about God’s character:
1. God sees the entire story and the people in it, while we do not.
My story is never simply about me, although I admit I sometimes act as though it is. I’m sure I often sound like a whiny two-year-old, repeating the same thing over and over. But God is merciful, and he sees everyone else who is woven into our stories. Maybe it’s the person who needed the job more than I did or the student who needed a rental house to live in, even though he would later abandon it.
Scripture is filled with countless people who waited on God and continue to inspire us today with their stories of faithfulness. Some of them didn’t even see what was promised because God had something better planned.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40 NIV
2. God knows what we need, while we often see only what we want.
God sees what our souls need, not just our physical bodies. Not just what our wills tell us we need. He sees not only the person we are right now but who we’re becoming. And the person we’re becoming transcends our present circumstances. Who we’re becoming is eternal. It’s difficult for us to think in these terms, and our needs in the moment consume us with worry. But God knows our physical needs too. He won’t forget those.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 NIV
3. God sees not only our present needs but our future ones.
On more than one occasion, God saved me from what I thought I needed at that exact moment. Why? Because he saw what the future held. He knew giving me my heart’s desire would not have been best for me then, or in the future.
Those financial needs that overwhelmed me over the rental house? In time, they were met. Yes, we walked through some stressful months and there were times we weren’t sure we’d make the mortgage, but God provided. And on the other side, I realized God was providing reliable renters for us. I wanted to rush his timing, but if I’d gotten my way, it would’ve been even more disastrous.
Friend, if you are in a season of waiting right now, I encourage you to look back on the ways God delivered you in the past. Repeat promises about his character out loud and write them in places where you will see them throughout the day.
Doing these things may feel silly at first, but here’s what you’re doing: You’re rewiring your brain. When your mind is tempted to believe the negative, you are building a neural pathway to truth. You are creating a pattern, and as you do, it will begin to become more natural.
No matter what, remember God goes with you, even on the days it feels as though you’re alone. He is reaching out for you through the waves of chaos. Reach for him, and grab hold.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Abby McDonald.