What do you do when God doesn’t seem to be showing up in the ways you need Him? When you continue to struggle and it seems to go on and on.
- You’ve been working hard to love your spouse but the love isn’t returned.
- You’ve cried out to God to set you free from porn but you keep slipping.
- Your daughter starts referring to herself as “he,” and some of your Christian friends applaud her decision.
- You don’t want to want that guy the way you do, but you also want to indulge the feelings you have for him.
- You know God loves you, but the reality is you don’t like what you see in the mirror.
Maybe it’s been years of struggling and praying and hurting. Maybe others seem to be “living victoriously,” but where is God for you in these desert areas where you need Him so?
In the desert, when God seems inactive, we face intense temptation to turn to comforts like food, drink, sex, or media. We feel tempted to give in to resignation, bitterness, or despair.
But none of these are the Christian life we want, any more than the desert is.
How do we stay strong in the desert? How do we wait faithfully, even when we know we may not experience the miracle we’re hoping for?
Friends, I’m still learning, but it helps me to remember…
We do not wait alone.
First, saints throughout the ages have been here too. Hebrews 11 lists faithful ones who experienced miraculous victory in this life, but also those who “didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced” (Hebrews 11:13).
Second, your experience of waiting is the experience of the whole of creation.
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Romans 8:20-22).
The desert itself, that dry, barrenness surrounding you–it’s very ground is groaning for the rain and rivers of God.
And third, would it help at all to know that God is waiting too? Not callously indifferent, nor afar off and aloof, but waiting here with a yearning, burning, groaning desire, like you?
We might be tempted to think, “Oh God understands if I give in to temptation. It’s been so long, after all.”
Beloved, you and I are like a bride whose fiancé has gone away to fight a battle. She is betrothed, her future husband is hers and she is his, and both can hardly wait to join together in their marriage bed. She yearns and even burns for his return (as does he), but the war goes on. She could pursue another lover, someone readily available and willing now.
But oh, what would this do to the heart of her fiancé when he returns?
Even so, our waiting, yearning, longing Bridegroom waits faithfully for us. And He will return.
But I would be remiss to leave us here. Yes, Christ will return for us. But He is also present to us and in us even now through His Spirit. His waiting is our waiting, His groaning carries our own.
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” (Romans 8:26).
Christ, who waits for us, abides in us and empowers us in our waiting. We can join our groaning to His, pouring out our tears, crying out in prayer, holding onto hope, standing silent at the cross.
Oh, what would this kind of waiting do to the heart of our Fiancé when He returns?
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
the things that God has prepared
for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Press yourself into this waiting. Practice obedience even when it’s hard, and anticipate the time when you’ll feel His goodness again. Like a bride joining with her bridegroom on their wedding night, the sweetness of the long-awaited moment will be worth the waiting.
And we are here. If we can wait with you, let us know.
Let’s encourage one another: What else helps you in the waiting, when you may struggle?
What helps me the most during waiting is staying in constant contact with the Lord. Asking & listening to responses from Him.
Amen, I find that connection is so key. Not only with the Lord but with the community around me! Have a great Tuesday Stacy!
Your comments are right on and should be very helpful to both me and others who are reading them. May I add this thought? I believe and have seen that some “sufferers” will not be released by the Lord from their burden in THIS life but will struggle to the end despite their sincere efforts. A wonderful glorious future awaits them (us) on the “other side” as you pointed out. On the other hand, I have also experienced that some who have struggled for a very long time without consistent victory may not have discovered the key to their being released. Sometimes we keep trying the same things without success while hoping for a different outcome. (Insanity, right?) It may be that some honest conversations with those who know the struggle well and have been delivered may reveal some blind spots in us that really need to be addressed before we can move toward victory. Meditating in the Word and bravely asking “What is the blockage that is keeping me in chains” along with real conversations with some who will be brutally honest with us may reveal a new pathway or a key which unlocks the slavery. There may be victory yet if we look up and open ourselves to some new insights or tools. Praise God for His mercy and grace no matter where we are on the road!
Excellent observations. Wondering peoples thoughts on, the difference between a “thorn” in our side, vs. a vise or struggle that needs to be overcome?
Thank you Josh for such a timely reminder.
You’re welcome, Scott.
Amen. Just what my soul needed today.
As a college student being super busy, stressed, filled with many responsibilities I find myself bitter as I wait because it almost seems like I am set up to fail. I can’t get away from things that trigger me, and because of my situation can only do so many things to help me cope. And reaching out to other believers in the past has only seemed to hurt me more. In the waiting I keep falling reguardless especially when I feel like the way out that’s talked about in the bible doesn’t seem to be there.
Brother, I’ve been there. Many of us have been. God’s grace is for you when you need it most. Can I encourage you to find some help to look deeper into the things that are triggering you? We usually think of being triggered as something that happens from the outside (something we see, hear, etc), but there are internal reasons those things trigger us. For me, discovering what those internal reasons were and then responding to those was what really began to make a difference in reducing the frequency and intensity of temptations I was feeling. For a quick look at this along with a practical way to respond, check out this video by Drew Boa. I hope it helps give you some traction on the journey.
I’m glad it was helpful, Gary.
Great topic Josh! How timely also.The process can be painfully slow and frustrating. As James 1 says that we be mature and complete not lacking anything.
True, Paul. Thanks for sharing that.