Have you ever been on an airliner that was in a holding pattern? I don’t like flying, so this would be a really stressful situation for me. Your trip is almost over and now you’re ready to land, get off the plane, and relax. But the pilot announces that there will be a delay in landing. You don’t know the reason. And while the aircraft is low enough that you can see the ground, you keep flying in a circular pattern, waiting for landing clearance. If were on that airplane, I would be more than ready to get off!
As I was praying and journaling on Monday morning, the above picture came to mind. For almost a year now, my life has been in a “holding pattern.” In the summer of 2015, my pain management doctor decided to see if an cervical epidural steroid injection would give me some relief from pain. Unfortunately, the injection had the opposite effect. Since July 2015, I have experienced severe pain (worse than before the injection) in both my cervical and lumbar spine. And my relatively mild disability increased to the point where I to use a wheelchair for any outings to church or out to eat.
The pain management doctor and my PCP had no idea what was going on, so next a saw a neurologist. After testing, she said the damage to my spine was so severe that all she could do was refer me to a neurosurgeon. In February, my condition grew even worse. I started having severe headaches, nausea, vertigo, ear pressure, shakiness in my hands, and frequent brain fog, and the pain in my neck, upper back, and shoulders became worse. On March 10, 2016, I saw the neurosurgeon, and after a thorough exam he said I needed surgery both in my cervical and lumbar spine. After much prayer, we decided to move forward with scheduling the first surgery, the one on my cervical spine. More doctor’s appointments and tests, numerous phone calls, and over three months later this surgery is still in the process of being scheduled.
The message on my heart today: Waiting is hard! Even though people are involved in this long time of waiting, I believe God is in control of my life and of the timing of my surgery, so I see this ultimately as a season of waiting on the Lord. I believe that God has a purpose in this whole situation, and I choose to trust in His timing, but this doesn’t make waiting any easier. We are hopeful that the surgery will help, but waiting is even harder when we are uncertain about the outcome. We’ve tried to walk through this season in a way that pleases the Lord, but for some reason this week have been extremely hard emotionally, as well as physically.
I don’t know how much longer the wait will be, and I’m feeling drained. So how do I keep waiting on the Lord, in a way that pleases Him? What does Scripture say about this? I invite you to join me in my search for the answers to these questions.
- One of the most familiar Scriptures about waiting on the Lord is found at the end of Isaiah 40: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 30-31 ESV)
- First, this is a promise of renewed strength. After a long season of waiting, we need strength to keep going – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. God promises renewed strength as we wait. God keeps His promises! This is a basic truth we need to hold onto during a season of waiting.
- Some simple word study of the Hebrew word translated “wait” in this verse increases our understanding. The root word means “to bind together, as by twisting.” Waiting on the Lord, then, is binding ourselves together with God. To do that we must trust that God our safe refuge in this storm.
- This reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV) As believers in Christ, His yoke binds us together with Him. And remember, it is an easy yoke, nothing to be afraid of.
- So waiting on the Lord isn’t passive. There are some choices we must make. The other definitions of the word include “to be strong” and “to expectantly await.” In a situation such as mine, strength isn’t going to come from myself. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12: “”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV) Therefore, while waiting we must choose to rely on God’s grace and His strength.
- We are also to wait with expectation. Paul was in prison waiting for deliverance, when he wrote to the Philippians: “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:19-20 ESV). His goal was that Christ would be honored in his situation, which is a good goal for us to adopt during seasons of waiting.
- Another key to waiting as God desires is found in Romans 8:25: “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” So we see that patience is another important factor in waiting for God to move on our behalf. We need to recognize that God sees the whole picture, and that He loves us and wants the best for us. So His timing may be painful, but we can trust it is for our benefit. This helps us to choose patience when we are waiting.
As I prayed today and allowed the Lord to lead me in my study, God clearly brought the above Scriptures to mind. Most of them were not ones I had associated before with waiting on the Lord, but God used them to speak to me. Yes, waiting is hard. No, I still don’t know when this time of waiting wil be over. I am still in a holding pattern, which could end next week or next month or even later. But this study has renewed my mind – and hopefully yours too. I feel more prepared to continue this lesson on waiting, until God releases me from it.