Waiting Without

I am bad at waiting. There is no getting around it. 

I wish I could tell you differently. I wish I had learned by now the grace of quietness, of stillness, of patience, but alas those marks of my growth in godliness come in fits and starts, sluggish to take deep root. They are the lessons I must learn again and again. 

I remember this when the line grows long at the grocery store, and I watch the clerk slowly sliding along my fellow customers’ selections. I see it in my rising blood pressure when I am trapped behind someone “enjoying the view” at a pace well below the speed limit. It is in my antsiness when my husband is late and my irritation when locked in the purgatory of cycling music and advertisements when on hold. But it also appears in seasons of life when much more is at stake. It looms large in a season in our not-so-distant past when we waited for a child. 

I wish I could tell stories of my great faithfulness, but mine are stories of tears and doubt. My unmet longings for a child cracked me open, leaving the tender, life-giving parts of me laid bare, vulnerable to the vultures of doubt, anger, and other people’s supposed helpfulness and cold comfort. 

I wish I could offer words of great wisdom on how to wait well, of how to be faithful when your dreams are cracking at the seams. But I have no wisdom. Only the wisdom to survive, to keep breathing. It does not feel as though I survived infertility with much grace or faith. I have only stories to tell of slivers of such things, slivers which kept me dependent and desperate at the feet of Jesus. I have only stories of his faithfulness when mine was weak.

The difficulty of such seasons of waiting is that I am offered no guarantees. Or rather, I am offered no guarantees of the things I long so deeply to be promised to me. In our season of waiting, all I wanted was the guarantee of a child, a guarantee of the healing of our bodies or the efficacy of medical procedures. But as much as I prayed for these things—and those who loved us prayed for these things—they were not guaranteed to us. 

My unmet longings for a child cracked me open, leaving the tender, life-giving parts of me laid bare.

When I wait for God to act in answer to my prayers, when I wait for him to break into my season of pain and unmet longing, I am given no guarantee he will act in the way I desire. The guarantees I am given and the divine promises I must rest on are of a different sort entirely. 

I am promised God’s presence in the midst of the waiting. I am promised a Father who is good, a Savior who is compassionate, and a Spirit who gives all-sufficient grace and strength for each day. I am promised an ultimate end to all sickness, all unmet longing, all pain, all tears. I am promised a creation made new.

In the midst of the waiting, my heart cries out. I wonder if God sees me. I wonder if he will answer. I struggle to cling to hope, let alone a lively hope that stands waiting for God to appear in my story. I wrestle against the void of my powerlessness. I want God to act. I want a guarantee. I fool myself, perhaps, that such assurances would increase my faith or allow me to wait any more patiently.

Instead, I am offered promises that have sustained God’s people through generations of trials and doubts. They may not be what my heart wants, but they are what my soul needs. They are big enough to sustain me in the midst of the waiting. They are big enough to give an oasis of quiet to my flailing, aching, waiting heart.

Diana Gruver

Diana Gruver writes about discipleship and spiritual formation in the every day. Her passion is encouraging and nurturing disciples of Jesus, giving them a vision for how He speaks to every aspect of the story of their lives. Her first book, forthcoming with InterVarsity Press, is about individuals in church history who struggled with depression. Diana lives in south-central Pennsylvania, where she can often be found singing in the kitchen with her husband and ever-curious daughter. You can find her online at her website, www.dianagruver.com, or on Facebook or Twitter.
Diana Gruver

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