“I need to know from you that God is at work in my situation,” said my friend Sandy Epley as we sat across the table from each other during our Wednesday evening Bible study group meeting. “Because I’m just not sure right now. You’ve been through a lot in your life, so I need to hear from you.”
I paused and prayed. I recalled how Sandy and the others in our group had just walked with me through two years of stress and uncertainty with my job. I wanted to speak God’s truth and the truth from my life to her.
“You’re right,” I began, my heart pounding in my throat and my eyes filling with tears. “I do know. And here’s what I know.
“God does do more than we can ask or imagine, just like Ephesians 3 tells us. But sometimes we have to wait for him to act. The best way I know how to wait is to be courageously patient."
“And I’ve also learned that when he does do more than we can ask or imagine, sometimes he works out his plan in ways that we aren’t expecting. Or ways that we may not want at first. That’s where our faith comes in. Because we believe in him, we trust in what he’s doing and how he’s doing it.”
I sighed inwardly, not sure if what I had said was even right or the best or what Sandy needed to hear.
Sandy and I made eye contact across the table. “That makes sense,” she replied. I felt God confirming that in my spirit.
Sandy and I are both facing struggles in life. Our struggles are very different, but we do share that bond as sisters in Christ. We also share our faith, the faith that trusts in God’s plan and provision.
Uncourageously impatient. Looking back over the story of my life, I can see many of those times. Times when I bulldozed my way through one problem only to discover that I had rammed into a barren, rocky landscape with no road in sight. Times when I consulted only my feelings for direction instead of asking for and trusting God’s guidance. Times when I got so tired of waiting on God that I took the quickest — and what seemed to be the easiest — way out.
Courageously patient. That’s a phrase I borrowed from my friend and author Matt Ham. I’ve just come through what is probably my greatest example of this type of patience.
A change in management at my job put me in a new and very difficult work situation. As the reality began to hit, I began to pray. For two years, I prayed. I prayed for a new job. I prayed for another change in management. I prayed for Jesus to return. I prayed for a breakthrough, a miracle, relief, some kind of fix. Confusion visited often and liked to hang around.
But each time I prayed about the situation, I heard only one response from God: “Wait.”
I’d like to say that I was good at waiting, but I really wasn’t. I cried. I yelled. I questioned God. I allowed myself to feel depressed. I shouted to God: “Can’t you see what’s happening here?” I admit it. I let my courage slide into doubt at times.
I know I was courageously patient, though, because I didn’t behave in ways I would have behaved before I let Jesus be the Lord of my life. I didn’t impulsively quit my job. I didn’t whine, complain, or gossip to my co-workers. I didn’t give up on God and try to handle the situation myself. I stood my ground instead of bulldozing my way out. I kept praying, not just for myself, but also for my supervisors and co-workers. I trusted that I was where God wanted and needed me to be, even though I didn’t understand his plan.
Then one morning, as I sat on my couch and prayed before I went to work, I said to God: “I just can’t do this one more day, God. Please help me.”
When I arrived at work that morning, I learned that the management structure for my team had just changed dramatically. With that change came a change in my job situation. I still have my job — and I am so thankful for that blessing. But more than that, I am once again doing what I love and loving what I do.
When we’re waiting on God’s timing, our trust in him requires courageous patience. And I’m here to tell you: Waiting goes a lot better if you include faithful submission and joyful praise!
Do you need courageous patience in your life? Let God help you today.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (Romans 12:12).
Laura Warfel is a widow, writer, and follower of Jesus Christ. Her greatest joy is to bring others along with her on her faith journey. In 2015, because of the encouragement of the Launch Out Conference and Jon Acuff, she launched More Than A Widow on Facebook and Twitter. Today she blogs, tweets, and posts to help widows (and those who know them) find encouragement, hope, and resources for the journey. Her goal is to help all widows live beyond the label and live as more than a widow.
Copyright © 2017 by Laura Warfel