Waiting well isn’t easy, especially when we can’t see the end. Are you in a waiting season? 6 ways to to wait well when the season runs long.
March is historically the snowiest month in Minnesota. While we hope for spring, snow reminds us winter is still hanging on. However, March snow is different than February snow. March snow promises to melt.
Tomorrow, we’ll get at least 6 more inches on top of the 40 on the ground. Along with snow, the storm marks a turning point. We leave behind another week of subzero temps, we begin our spring break with a week of temperatures above freezing.
It’s a ‘Minnesota heat wave’! And proof of the promise that spring is coming.
Sometimes we find ourselves in waiting seasons. I’m in one now. Unlike the changing of yearly seasons, we can’t always know when the season will change. While spring will certainly occur over the next few months, change in my waiting season may not. Unfortunately, most of don’t know the length of our waiting and wilderness seasons.
Like the warring seasons of winter and spring in March, our waiting seasons often put up a fight. Change doesn’t happen overnight and can take months or even years.
What are we waiting for?
It’s different for everyone. Maybe it’s a husband, baby, job, healing, home or restoration of a relationship. Or a prayer that hasn’t been answered how you hoped so you’re still waiting. Whatever it is, it’s likely deeply personal and may be excruciatingly painful.
The promise of spring is always there. Yet the hardship of this season ebbs and flows. Although we experience moments of hope, encouragement and peace, we also struggle with the roller coaster of discouragement, frustrations and heartbreak. How we respond to waiting matters. We can choose to hate every bit of our winter season, but we pay an expensive price.
So how can we wait well?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. I can’t honestly tell you that doing these 6 things is a fail-proof recipe to wait well. What we need while waiting to thrive is different for each of us. We are waiting for different things, and we have different natural responses. But these 6 things can increase our chances and give us some ideas to get back on track, or even begin waiting well.
1. Get Real
It’s easy to just stuff our feelings, isn’t it? We don’t want to wait and we don’t want to admit it’s hard to wait. We’re self-reliant. We’ve got this. So we minimize our struggle by comparing our wait to bigger things others face. We suck it up. Our problems aren’t as big as theirs.
Unfortunately, denying our feelings and emotions only makes them bigger. As we hold them in, they grow and fester and we open the door to bitterness. Furthermore, stuffed feelings manifest in our relationships, spewing out sideways at people we love.
Yesterday, I demonstrated this well with my husband and kids. I was irritable, emotional, and my responses were more intense than the situations that were happening. It wasn’t pretty. Something about the day left me feeling weary and fed up with this waiting season. I’m thankful for their grace and forgiveness.
The intensity of my emotions left me wondering what was wrong with me! I ended the day in a time of reflection and prayer, asking God to show me what was going on.
Sweet friends, acknowledging feelings we’ve been hiding or ignoring may not feel good; in fact, it’s safe to assume it won’t. Opening the door to emotions we’ve locked away and don’t really want to feel is scary and can be intense. But we must.
One of the most beneficial things to do when feeling that wave of emotions is to lament to God. It can feel weird to pour out feelings that feel big, messy and confusing to a perfect God. But it’s also very freeing. God already knows it all. And He is big enough, capable enough, and strong enough to listen.
God is the safest person to trust with your heart. Those feelings you don’t want to admit and those words you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone else that you’ve only thought in your head? God already knows them. So get them out. Whisper them, cry them, or write them to the God who knows it all and is ready and able to help you cope with them.
Naomi is a great example of someone who lamented in scripture. She told God how she felt about the losses endured in Moab. Although some of her words feel like complaints and like she had lost faith, she was honest. And she followed God through her wilderness season. When on the other side, she praised God, recounting His faithfulness. This article on Lament on Desiring God discusses Naomi’s lament and is a great resource if you aren’t sure where to start.
There are also plenty of examples in the Psalms where writers have poured out their hearts to God, not holding back their confusion, pain, suffering or hope. God can handle our big, messy emotions. And He graciously included the Psalms to show us He won’t reject us.
3. Be in Community
God made us to be in relationship with Him and with others. We need community, especially when we’re struggling.
While a few people may notice and pick up on our struggle, many need us to reach out and share our hearts to feel comfortable stepping in. When we invite others into our waiting, they can offer comfort, prayers, encouragement, and empathy. They sit with us as we cry, speak truth when we get off track, and extend help in ways we didn’t think to ask.When we invite others into our waiting, they offer comfort, prayers, encouragement, and empathy. They sit with us as we cry, speak truth when we get off track, and extend help in ways we didn't think to ask. #waiting #waitwell… Click To Tweet
Who can wait with you? What friends will you share your heart with? Are there couples who can walk alongside you and your husband? What wise woman can you ask to mentor you? Identify the people who can help you wait well.
Start today! Think of one person, then take the first bold step of sharing what is going on. Be honest. Ask for prayer. You don’t have to wait alone.
4. Watch Expectantly
Behold, I am doing a new thing;Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
When waiting, it’s easy to get fixated on the one thing God hasn’t delivered yet and miss all the other things He’s up to. Just because we don’t have the husband, baby, home, job, healing or relationship restoration we’re praying for yet, doesn’t mean God isn’t doing other things in the meantime.
Ask God to open your eyes to the things He is doing while you wait. Look for God’s kindness in your daily life. Step back and look for the ways He works in your ordinary days when it seems like God is silent. Look for areas of fear and doubt where He is giving you victory.
When you notice God’s handiwork, write it down. Start a gratitude or prayer journal. Writing how God is working in your life down allows you to recount God’s faithfulness when the waiting wilderness seems unending and hopeless. God is with you while you wait.Writing how God is working in your life down allows you to recount God's faithfulness when the waiting wilderness seems unending and hopeless. Click To Tweet
5. Do Something
Do you ever get fixated on what you’re waiting for? I do. The wait can consume our thoughts and leave us feeling unproductive and stuck.
To break out of the funk, do something. Find a place to serve in your church or community. Volunteer with kids, packing meals, or visiting people who are alone. Parents can volunteer at their child’s school, and anyone can mentor a child.
If you have a lot of time on your hands at home, start that spring cleaning, or home improvement project. Paint your favorite room. You probably won’t have time for it when you’re doing waiting. Or, read a book that encourages you. Write. Pick up that hobby you stopped or learn a brand new skill. And, of course, use some of that free time for prayer and in the Word.
This isn’t being productive to feel valuable. Our worth isn’t in what we do, but in Whose we are. Instead, it’s using the time we have now to do something worthwhile, rather than spending it pining away for tomorrow.
6. Lean In
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”John Steinbeck
When we feel God leading us towards something but we’re still waiting, it can be confusing. It’s tempting to give up. But unless God is clearly saying ‘No’, we are to keep waiting. With expectant hope.
Are you waiting today? We can wait together. Without this season of waiting, the day we get what we hope for wouldn’t be as sweet. There is purpose in our waiting, even when it seems fruitless.
With hope in mind, we can embrace these challenges, the mess and our emotions and ask God to walk with us through it all. We can cling to Jesus in the winter as we hope for spring. Even when it’s hard, we can lean in.
Our circumstances may not change as quickly as we want, or demand, but our hearts can stay warm. We experience God’s provision, comfort and peace in the wait when we ask Him to help us wait well.Our circumstances may not change as quickly as we want, or demand, but our hearts can stay warm. We experience God’s provision, comfort and peace in the wait when we ask Him to help us wait well. #waiting #thisgratefulmama #prayer Click To Tweet
“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.”Deuteronomy 2:7 (ESV)
Like the Israelites in the wilderness, God will provide everything we need. At times, it will be hard to feel Him or see His provision, but we can be certain He is there. He is near.
One day, we will be able to look back on His faithfulness. We probably won’t get all the reasons for our wait, but we will know God was with us. For now, He promises to faithfully show up, comfort and provide as God walks with us through the winter. There’s always the hope of spring.
When spring comes, it will be much sweeter because our winter was so long!
Today, sweet friends, not matter how long we have to wait, we can say with confidence. Let it snow!
Lord, This waiting season feels too long. We know you’re with us, but sometimes it’s hard to see you clearly. Help us lean in to your presence and Word and give us undivided hearts for you. Draw us close when our waiting season feels unending. Thank you for the gift of community; show us who can walk with us through this season. Please send encouragement and help. And people who are willing to tell us what we need to hear. We trust your plans are good. Show us how you are working in our lives now so we don’t miss what you’re teaching us while we wait. Help us wait well. Amen.
Are you in a waiting season? Tell us one thing you’re doing that helps you wait well.
Lamenting is Not Admitting Defeat, Kirsten Ryken, The Gospel Coalition
5 Things Waiting on God Taught Me, Erin Ford, Power to Change
Why Waiting Patiently is Super Important to Our Faith, Julie Loos, Unmasking The Mess
What to Do While You’re Waiting for Breakthrough, Alisa Nicaud, Flourishing Today
24 Replies to “Waiting Well When The Season Runs Long”
My family is in a period of waiting. Waiting for grief and sadness to lessen. Unexpected sadness hit us this week. I won’t share details. We know God has a plan and His plan is best. He is collecting our tears and He is holding us in His loving arms.
I am so sorry for this hard season and grief. Grief is never welcome and in my life has been disorienting. Praying God meets you there, and you feel His comfort and peace. Our God suffered and grieved and grieves with us.
I live in Wisconsin, so I totally get the wait for Spring! This winter has been a rough one, too. But as you said, it forces us to wait. God is in the waiting (there is a song about that, sung by Bethel Worship – so good!). I like the suggestions you make in this blog about what to do while we are waiting. Very insightful! Thanks for the tips.
I hate waiting. I struggle through those times of waiting that God has placed on my life. I know His ways are the best but sometimes it’s not easy. Good list of ways to combat the hardships of waiting. I will try them outl
Dear Elaine, you captured so many deep truths here. Acknowledging our feelings, grieving with God, turning to Godly friends for additional strength and so on. I am also in a period of difficult waiting. There is much to be learned as we lean harder into the arms of our Lord. Where else can we go for the words of life? Thank you for your faith, life and ministry! Such an inspiration!
Hey Elaine, I also always look forward to Spring. Truth be told, I’m a Fall, Spring, and especially Summer girl. Cold-natured, Winter is my least favorite season. Yet, we know seasons all have their purposes as do the seasons in our lives. If we never had Winter, we’d never appreciate springtime and the new growth it brings. And if we never had to wait, we’d never appreciate the promises and new growth it brings to us in a spiritual way.
Agreed Karen! Winter is my least favorite season as well. I love spring and fall. Waiting seasons certainly do bring us to gratitude when we get to the ‘other side’! Thank you for your thoughts!
Love all your insights! Break up with the funk! Love it!
This was such a significant read for me today. Thank you for sharing! It seems that this winter has brought the most difficult feelings and emotions out of me. The wait is hard and it is long. Thank you for the practical ways to wait on the Lord during this difficult season.
Such great advice! There are a couple things I’m waiting for right now, so this was such a good read. I loved your advice of do something and watch expectedly. It’s so easy to try to make happen what we’re waiting on God for, so both of those were convicting for me. 🙂
I don’t know where I’d be today without the community who walked with me through my worst waiting time. Great post. Such an important message. God bless!
Such true, good thoughts. In hard periods of waiting, I rely heavily on worship music to speak truth to my heart even when I’m not feeling it. 🙂
All your suggestions are spot on! Thanks for an encouraging post!
I’m in a season of waiting, and it’s so nice to hear your reminder that I’m NOT ALONE and I have a community of Christians who wait with me!
Fellow Minnesotan here! I’m not quite at the point of saying ” Let it snow!” 😁 Love all your suggestions. In my waiting, I tend to get anxious. I take little spurts of time to tell God that I trust him, and His will be done. A few deep breaths, and I move on. Repeat as necessary…
OK this is going to sound shallow I think, but I am waiting until Monday to get a filling fixed. It fell out last night & my tooth is soooo sensitive.
The dentist asked if I could wait until Monday. First time something like this has ever happened to me and Monday feels like an eternity away. At least its not hurting in every moment – so I said I could wait.
I’m not sure how much of this applies – maybe community would help? I think empathy is always comforting. And I was negating it – like “it’s not that bad” but it is better just be honest, however silly I might feel, especially with God.
Of course I have other things and bigger things I am waiting for…sometimes patiently, sometimes not. These tips are really helpful for that.. thank you for giving a practical & real path to waiting well. 🙂
I’m not in a waiting season at this moment, quite the opposite actually, but it’s so good to remember that sometimes those waiting times are so that we can rest up and in Him so that when we do end up in a season of action, we know exactly how to proceed.
I’m not sure if I’m still in my waiting season or if I’m just waiting well! I know I’m waiting but I don’t have the same anxieties I’ve had in past waiting seasons! It’s amazing actually! I’ve just decided to lean in like you said, and I’m focused on what God is still doing! So thankful for the wisdom He’s given me in the past to sustain me in this one!
These thoughts give me such a sense of acknowledgement. Starting even with the first one – admitting that we feel like we’ve been handed the short end of the stick. I am that person who feels like there are so many “bigger” things happening around me. Who am I to go to God with my little worries…and so many others of this piece really resonated with feelings I have had at one time or another.
Love your insight! The waiting season is never easy, but it makes the other side so much sweeter
Out of all of these, I think “get real” spoke to me the most about waiting. I really needed that one. Thank you!
Such a great post! Tweeted, pinned and shared on InstaEncouragements Facebook page. 🙂
Thank you so much Patricia! Appreciate your encouragement and shares. Looking forward to connecting more with you.
Ugh I needed this today! I did some lamenting to God (without knowing that’s what I was doing) on my drive home today. I need to recognize the other things God is doing, and a few other pieces you had here. Thank you.
Often I lament without knowing it too! Actually, sometimes I complain more than lament since lamenting has a purpose and is always tied to God’s character and promises. God is definitely working in your situation and I hope as you seek Him you see His handiwork all over. Lord, give Kelsey eyes to see your presence in her wait. We thank you for meeting us where we are and receiving our laments with grace and kindness. You are good and we trust your plans are good, even when the wait feels longer than we’d hoped. Encourage her with your Word, and send people to uplift and pray alongside her. Amen.