For five years I prayed that God would heal my husband of his chronic, debilitating back pain. It’s the kind of pain that affects every part of normal life. In fact, we prayed together, probably every night accompanied with tears. I was in a regular habit of getting up before anyone in my house so that I could lock myself in my dark office, on my knees, begging God for intervention. This was the beginning of my understanding of how stress manifests itself in the body as I started losing my hair and having irregular heartbeats. Stress is a powerful thing on the body!
So, praying for my husband’s healing was my focus. I prayed, I cried, begged, fasted…all the things for five years. I finally came to a place of peace when I felt the Lord saying in my spirit to wait. That’s pretty much all I got, was “wait.”
At first it was just a word. But then, as the message began to be more consistent, it became more of a promise. So, then my prayer time started to look different. Instead of the crying…well, no that’s not true, I still cried…but instead of the begging, I began to have increased faith and confidence that God was going to heal Brian. I presumed that God was working something out behind the scenes that I couldn’t see - something that He needed to accomplish before Brian could be healed. That sounded reasonable. I know that waiting gives God time to work things out in us and in others - things worth waiting for. And waiting gives us time to become who we are meant to be. So, I settled myself there with renewed confidence. And with that confidence, I began to be able to “wait” with peace. After all, you can have peace in the waiting if you believe the thing you’re waiting for is going to come. There was definitely a shift in my prayer time.
There are so many verses in the bible that talk about waiting. Mostly they are about waiting on God to act. The bible dictionary says the waiting is to look for something with hope and expectation. Lamentations 2:35 says “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him.; to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Psalm 27:14 says “Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” Isaiah 64:4: “No ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like You who works for those who wait for Him.”
My faith was increased so much by every passing day. I had such anticipation to see how God was going to show up and heal Brian. I knew God was doing a transformative work in both of our lives, and so I was excited about all that God was doing to use the pain to change us both. I just knew we’d have quite a story to tell on the other side of this. I mentioned this in Episode # 3 A Crisis of Faith. I had read a verse that seemed to confirm that we would be ‘built together’ for God’s Kingdom. That God would use the story of pain and brokenness and turn it into one of perfect, miraculous healing so that we together could give hope to the hopeless. Ephesians 2:22 says, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
I was so excited about that prospect that waiting for God to act was not difficult at all. At least not for me.
So, I was digging deep into the Bible and clinging to every scripture that promised God’s acting on my behalf as I waited. Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.” Be still and wait.
Now, I was resolved to the waiting part, but I wasn’t quite sure how to be still while I waited. Shouldn’t I continue to throw myself before the Lord? Continue to rebuke the enemy for any unseen assignment he might have on my husband’s life? Or could I be still, to rest, knowing it was already done in Jesus’ name…so that I just wait?
The famous scripture “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) was one that I needed to dig a little deeper into. I understand the “know that I am God” part. “Know” in Hebrew is yada. It refers to a special kind of knowledge, to perceive, to understand, to know by experience. It is both seeing and knowing (not just hearing with the ears), but to discover by intimacy. This is definitely something I was familiar with - ”knowing God intimately.”
But again, how to “be still” even as I know and experience God?
Be still is the Hebrew word is raphah. The meaning is very complex because it means to be feeble, be weakened, be idle, slack; to relax, to withdraw. It’s almost as if it’s an actual ceasing of activity. So then in being still, I am to surrender to the idea that in trusting in who I know God to be - the “know that I am God” part - allows me to withdraw my begging and pleading for His healing. Because 1) I know He is a God of compassion and mercy for the hurting, and 2) I know that He certainly can heal by any means He chooses - by medicine or by miracle. So, in willingly putting myself in this “weakened state”, I am surrendering myself so that God may act on my behalf.
So, I wait.
But things don’t seem to be getting any better for my husband. In fact, they seem to be getting worse. And then one day, the waiting is over. But it’s not at all the outcome I had envisioned or hoped for as I was being still and waiting.
So “wait” became a four-letter word - a word that was just as bad as some other four-letter words I was taught not to say as a young child. A word I really despised. And then I came to realize it’s a word I don’t truly understand. But what I did come to understand, after some time, was that I put my own bias on the concept of waiting, as well as the outcome of it. I definitely had my own ideas about what the outcome would be when God asked me to wait.
Obviously, I was wrong about what I was waiting for, but definitely not about the waiting itself.
In Scripture, the Apostle Paul was also crying out to God for relief from pain and circumstances - yet we are not told exactly what that was. And God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Now, this doesn’t even sound hopeful like “wait” does. This sounds to me like a flat out “No” with a promise that God’s grace would be with him in the pain and suffering. Now, I’m not sure which would be better - only hearing “wait” with no other assurances, or “no” with a guarantee that God would give you grace to endure the hardship. But that’s a worldly view of God’s answer. “Wait” with a promise to heal at some point versus “no healing for you, but you’ll get through it and I’ll be with you.” The former satisfies my fleshly desire for all things to be right in my world - lovely even. In the end, “Yeah, yeah, do what you need to do, God. Get what You need to get, but put our world back to level. Make our lives easy again - lovely even.” The latter promises a spiritual satisfaction of having the One who created you and loves you most to be obviously present while tenderly attending to your heart and ability to endure.
When King David was waiting on God to show up to deliver him from suffering, he says, “So now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My Hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7.
That’s exactly where I was. Asking the Lord, “NOW, for what do I wait? You told me to wait, God. Of that I am sure. What was the waiting for? Because clearly, I haven’t seen what it is I was to wait for.”
“Maybe it’s not here yet. Maybe it’s still to come,” the youngest son said after his dad’s memorial service.
Maybe that’s true. But the next thing he said makes more and more sense to me now. He said, “Mom, have you ever considered that you and dad still have a ministry together even though he’s gone? Mom, think about the people you get to reach just by sharing your story and your journey to healing. You’re still doing this with dad.”
True. Not exactly what I had in mind. But still true.
So, I wait. And I will continue to wait. I wait, not with a bias of what I think the outcome will be. But I wait because the Lord tells me to wait. To be still and wait patiently for the Lord to act. To be still, knowing that He is God, able to act on my behalf as I patiently wait. As I wait with great hope and expectation that the way He shows up and acts on my behalf is for my good and for His glory. For surely, my hope is in Him alone.
Let me ask you, friend. Is there something you’re waiting for God to do - perhaps something you’ve been waiting for Him to do for a long time? Let me assure you, God hears your prayers and the cries of your heart. Let me also encourage you to trust that He will show up and act on your behalf - for your good and for His glory. He is inviting you to be still. And in that stillness, to know Him intimately and experientially that He is God over all things; that His name will be exalted among all the nations and in all the earth…in all things. In being still, are you willing to surrender what you may think the outcome may be in your waiting so that God may work His good for you? Here, we get the privilege of knowing Him more intimately, more keenly, more closely. Here we are comforted that He is working all things out in His most perfect way, that His name, His great name may be exalted among the people. His way will be the most beautiful way! The most fruitful way! And nothing will be wasted! Nothing!
Friend, won’t you, with me, wait in great hope and expectation for God to act on your behalf? For your good and for His glory.