By Kathy Carlton Willis
When someone tells me something followed by, “Trust me!” I want to do just the opposite. I don’t trust them. I don’t believe them. I feel uncomfortable by their smarmy attempt to convince me.
When I go through a difficult circumstance and have to wait for the desired outcome, I hear a different still small voice in my head and heart saying, “Trust me.” It doesn’t go with my natural tendencies to want to do that. But, when God is the object of my trust, I’ve learned to switch off my tendency to doubt, and turn up the volume on my faith.
One of the hardest times to trust is when we’re waiting for something. An answer to prayer. A goal accomplished. A struggle smoothed out. A trial resolved. Learning to trust in the middle of a holding pattern is a major life test that we have to take over and over again. It’s hard to pass the test of trust when we are the ones who feel on hold.
Can We Trust in the Wait?
Are you going through a waiting period? It probably wouldn’t seem so long if we could just have a few answers along the way—like a glimmer of light at the end of the dark tunnel. How can we find wisdom and discernment? Part of the wait is not having answers yet still trusting. Faith is in the not knowing.
Do you feel God is ignoring your prayers as you pour out your heart to him? When you have a delay in seeing your prayers answered, does it feel as if God isn’t listening to you? Delays don’t indicate God is ignoring us, but it might indicate he is using this time to restore us (or to restore someone else learning from our pause).
The wait means something. We get shaped, refined, refreshed, refueled—this wait means something.
Sometimes, we need the delay for God to prepare us for the answer he is customizing for his purpose to come true in our lives. Our job when we sense silence on the other end of our prayers is simple. Wait. And in the wait, we trust. And in the trust, we grow patience. And when patience has grown up, it becomes endurance. Then we’re ready to run the faith marathon designed with us in mind.
James 1:2–4 in the New Living Translation says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”
The Message paraphrases that passage this way: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Sometimes the Bible describes trust as “patient trust.” That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Patience takes growth, and when we grow more patience, we grow godliness. When we trust in God, we give him the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he’s doing. Of course, he does—he’s God! But sometimes we forget that and want to rush things, fix things, move on. Trust slows down the whirling desire to do something and allows us to wait.
It’s hard to let go of the reins, but the truth is, we don’t hold them anyway—we just like to think we do.
The Right Time
As we wait, we realize it often takes time for God to work out the intricate details of the end result. The holding pattern doesn’t mean nothing is happening—it means God is at work while we trust his timing to be best. We don’t rush a fine cheesecake as it bakes—pulling it out of the oven too soon results in a jiggly, mushy mess. The same for our lives. We have to wait for just the right time. And God is the only one who knows what that timing is. (If we don’t wait, we’re the ones who are jiggly, mushy messes!)
Trusting God is at the heart of waiting. And the only way to trust someone is to be near them. And when we’re with them often, we start becoming like them. Soon, we are refreshed and strengthened so that at just the right time, we can move forward again.
Isaiah 40:31 (NLT) says, “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
Waiting isn’t only for the purpose of biding our time while God works out the details. It grows us. Strengthens us. Not merely because we checked another day off the calendar. No—growth happens as we focus on God’s presence in our lives and enjoy his company.
The Test of Trust
The test of trust is to see if we really have faith that God can do it. What messes up our idyllic faith is that we have lived a life of sight, witnessing so many times when things went wrong. So then comes the pause, the holding pattern, the waiting room time when we attempt to balance faith and sight.
One example of sight versus faith is my negative experiences stemming from medical mishaps. These hinder me from being able to trust in my medical team completely. I work to find the balance between faith and sight. I know despite human error with my health care, God can intervene whenever he deems best. And he does, sometimes. Why doesn’t he take control to correct their mistakes every time? I’m not sure. But I know when he does come to my rescue, he gets big glory. And perhaps the times when I’m left in the waiting rooms (literally and figuratively), it is because there is more to be accomplished without a miraculous intervention.
All my negative experiences have clouded my view—my perspective. However, I can trust God to make it okay no matter what happens—whether he steps in to fix what is broken or whether he wants me to go through a less-than-optimal situation.
Similar to how cataracts blur my vision so much it’s like looking through frosted glass, my belief is out of focus unless I focus on the One who clears my vision. I can continue to have faith when I put my trust in the One who makes all the difference.
When we can get to the place of choosing to trust instead of worry—trusting God’s timing is perfect—we’ll be able to see that his timing is beautiful, even. And that is the beginning of worship, isn’t it?
Patience helps you trust God more. Trusting God helps you build more patience. They go together. When you have something to hang your hope on, you can wait with patience for all the details to be worked out according to God’s purpose.
And then, maybe we can celebrate with cheesecake!
About the author: God’s Grin Gal, KATHY CARLTON WILLIS,
writes and speaks with a balance of funny and faith, whimsy and wisdom. She coaches others to remove the training wheels of doubt and take pleasure in the joy ride of life. This article contains excerpts from her most recent book, Your Life on Hold: Don’t Hate the Wait.