5 Wrong Ways to Wait on God

Posted: August 28th, 2009 | Author: Gregg Stutts | Filed under: Other | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

You have a need. God promises to meet that need…but nothing happens. So you wait. Then you wait some more. And you keep waiting…and waiting…and waiting. Until you’re tired of waiting. So tired.

After God promised Abraham and Sarah they would have a son, they waited 25 years for his birth. David waited 14 years to become king after being anointed by Samuel and he spent much of that time running for his life. A Savior was promised thousands of years before Jesus finally came on the scene.

We might have to wait a week for the results of a biopsy, fifteen months to sell a house (or longer these days) or a few years for a start-up business to become profitable. Maybe for you it’s waiting for God to provide a spouse or a child.

Waiting is a mega-theme in the Bible. It’s something we have to learn to do well.

Let’s quickly look at a few ways to NOT wait well. I’ve tried each of them.

1. Anger. God doesn’t behave like I want Him to. He doesn’t come through for me, at least not the way I wanted. So I conclude He’s not good after all. He’s not loving or kind like He says He is. He’s just not worth trusting. After all, I did my best to obey Him and now He’s treating me unfairly.

Then I think I have every right in the world to be mad at Him. Soon, my anger turns to bitterness and cynicism. It’s a downward spiral from there. I’ve been in that spiral. It’s not pretty.

2. Discouragement. The waiting seems endless. Things aren’t getting better, they’re only getting worse. In fact, just when it seems things can’t get any worse, sure enough, they do. My circumstances can look so overwhelming that I lose hope. I can get to a place where I cannot even see how things will ever get any better. I’ve been there, too.

3. Feeling sorry for myself. This is a subtle one to fall into. It’s a victim mentality. I did what God wanted, but I guess He’s just against me. It’s also a twisted way of trying to manipulate God. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had much success with that.

4. Manipulating my circumstances. Abraham and Sarah tried this one. When Sarah couldn’t get pregnant, she suggested Abraham sleep with one of her servants. Being the unselfish, man-of-faith he was, Abraham went right along with her plan. When God has me in a season of waiting, it’s best to not take things into my own hands. Nothing good can come of that. It’s also a good idea to be sure you’re getting wise counsel, even if it’s coming from your spouse.

5. Lowering my expectations of God. This may be the worst of the five, but I was guilty of this for a number of years. After living through the first four, I figured the safest bet was to just lower my expectations of God. I just wouldn’t expect him to do anything for me. If I didn’t expect Him to answer prayers, bless me or help me out of difficult situations, then I wouldn’t be disappointed. If He did do something then it would be a nice surprise. I guess it’s kind of like the person who gets burned in a relationship and vows to never fall in love again.

I don’t know if there’s a more offensive way to view God than as someone who really can’t be counted on. Someone who won’t come through and therefore shouldn’t be trusted. It’s a total lack of faith and reflects a terrible view of God.

So those are the wrong ways, but how do we respond when the need is unmet and God doesn’t seem to be in a hurry?

We actively wait.

A doctor I saw in Little Rock (before we moved) was an ultra-marathon runner. Those are the 100-mile races. He and I got into a fitness discussion one day and he was explaining his workout schedule to me. There didn’t appear to be any rest days, so I asked him about it.

He said his rest days consisted of going to the athletic club and riding a stationary bike. He called it “active rest.” He and I had different definitions of “rest.”

Waiting on God is kind of like that though–it’s active. We pray. We read His word. We seek counsel. We worship. We serve. We live in community with others who are believing God. We continue doing the last thing He showed us to do.

We actively wait.

My wife, Robyn, is a great example. She is doing an awesome job leading the Young Life ministry in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She has an incredible team of committed college student leaders. Ministry is occurring on the University of Arkansas campus, at Fayetteville High School and at the middle school level.

The budget is lagging behind though…to the point that her salary was cut until adequate funds are raised. She isn’t waiting passively, she’s waiting actively for God to work. She is continuing to do ministry: coach leaders, plan retreats, hold events, etc. She’s also actively working to raise the funds to meet her budget. She is active while she waits on God to lead her to the people He has called to help support the ministry.

Your circumstances are different.

You’re trying to repair a broken relationship.

Medical test after medical test hasn’t revealed the cause of your symptoms.

You’ve tried to sell your house, but the offers aren’t coming.

Active waiting is refusing to give into the five destructive waiting behaviors while continuing to pursue and believe God. I know it’s not easy. I’ve failed many, many times. I’m getting better at it, but I still fail. A lot.

God is at work in your circumstances. Right now. He has a purpose behind the waiting. When the time is right, the waiting will end. In the meantime, wait for Him…actively.

(By the way, if you or someone you know wants to invest in a strategic, life-changing ministry to middle school through college students, email Robyn at: robynstutts@gmail.com)

5 Comments on “5 Wrong Ways to Wait on God”

  1. 1 Jess said at 5:19 PM on August 28th, 2009:

    I just wanted to share what God has done in my life while I’ve been choosing to believe Him. I work a comission job where I don’t get paid unless I get people in the door and my husband is a student. God has greatly used the skills I’ve leared in believing Him to grow my business as well.Over the past 2 weeks God has blessed and provided for our family by almost doubling my paycheck! Praise Him!

  2. 2 Gregg Stutts said at 5:43 PM on August 28th, 2009:

    That’s awesome! Thank you for sharing that.

    Lord, thank you for Jess and her desire to believe You. Thank you for blessing her and her husband. Grant them favor as they look to You to provide.

  3. 3 Seeking Words said at 6:31 PM on June 7th, 2011:

    Hi Greg
    This article really helped shine some light and insight on how we need to be patient in WAITING for God to fulfill his promise to us. However, I’m currently I’m looking for more insight into your first point about Anger. My boyfriend is struggling with this piece as he blames God for his current circumstance (mom is terminally ill) and is always asking “Why did God let this happen” and “Why should I look to Him when He is the one that brought this upon us”. My challenge right now if finding the right words and thoughts that will help keep him focused on God and seeking Him during this time of great difficulty and hurt. I know that God doesn’t always answer the “whys” of the world and we just have to have trust in His grace, mercy, and glory but I’m running out of ways to say this. I almost need tangible HOWS to keep him focused on Gods perfectness during this trying time for him. He is faced with increasing bitterness, anger, frustration, cynicism, and overall deflation of spirit and discouragement. I know we need to be patient with God, but in times like this where he feels that it’s God himself putting this anguish against him more than anything, what words, phrases, thoughts, anecdotes can I glean from that will help keep him on the God path? He’s contemplating just dismissing God altogether which we both know isn’t the way to go at all, but as of now, He just feels like God is to blame. When you say:
    Waiting on God is kind of like that though–it’s active. We pray. We read His word. We seek counsel. We worship. We serve. We live in community with others who are believing God. We continue doing the last thing He showed us to do.
    I guess my question is – How do you pray in times when you feel uber discouraged at the one you’re praying to, WHAT do you pray to the one you blame? How do you overcome the anger, bitterness and blame towards God? How do you go back and remember doing the last thing God showed him to do? We are very tangible people where we understanding “doing” rather than “being” and I guess I’m seeking both your words of wisdom, and possibly prayers for encouragement, miraculous healing, and just renewed faith.

  4. 4 Gregg Stutts said at 11:04 AM on June 8th, 2011:

    I have felt what your boyfriend is feeling. I’ve been angry, disillusioned and confused. Those feelings led to bitterness toward God. I can so relate to where he’s at today.

    I don’t have easy answers for you. In a sense, the answers are simple, just not easy.

    When (not if) we face hard, painful, difficult circumstances–we always have a choice to make. I can view my circumstances through God’s eyes or I can view God through my circumstances.

    When I view God through my circumstances–He seems uncaring, unloving, uninvolved and sometimes just plain mean. If He loved me, He wouldn’t allow whatever pain I’m going through. If He loved me, He would make everything better, more comfortable.

    And yet, that is not the picture we see anywhere in the Bible. I was under the mistaken impression that it was. But it’s not.

    We don’t have to look any further than Abraham, Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah, Paul or Jesus Himself to see that good, godly men suffer.

    Somehow I had missed that. And it led me into several years of anger, bitterness and cynicism.

    Knowing and believing the truth is the ONLY way to be released from those negative emotions. It’s essential to see life’s painful circumstances through God’s eyes, through the lense of the Bible.

    The truth is that no matter what I face–God is still good. He was still good when my mother died at the age of 59. He was still good when my dad died after suffering from leukemia for seven months. He was still good when I experienced financial failures.

    In Romans 12:1-2, Paul tells us that we’re transformed by the renewing of our minds. Satan knows this, too. The battle is fought in our minds.

    Satan will lie to us and deceive us into thinking that because we face painful circumstances that God couldn’t possibly be good or loving. If we listen to those thoughts, then we will become angry and disillusioned with God.

    The only way to be released from that bondage is to believe the truth.

    As I said, it’s simple, just not easy. Satan will fight to keep us in bondage to his lies. We must depend on the Holy Spirit to help us believe the truth.

    You can pray for your boyfriend and encourage him to be in God’s word, but ultimately–he is responsible for his thoughts, just as I’m responsible for mine and you’re responsible for yours.

    Father, I’ve been where this young man is. I know how hard and confusing and painful it is. I also know now that the answer is to believe the truth. I pray You will help this man to know You better. I pray He will get to know You as You really are, not as Satan has made You out to be. Give this woman wisdom and grace and peace as she walks through this difficult season with her boyfriend. Help them both to seek You. In the Name of our only hope, Jesus. Amen.

  5. 5 Goodness said at 4:46 PM on February 15th, 2014:

    Thank u so much Sir for giving me a direct answer to my question. I now know how to avoid waiting on God the wrong way(s) in geting a job e.tc

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