Going into this year, I had planned to put the topic of waiting aside for a while. From my perspective, most of the things that had been weighing on my heart for the last couple of years had reached a dead end – for now, at least. I was ready to get down to business of wading through disappointment while cultivating new dreams. I know the Lord’s plans are good, and if they don’t include placing in my hands things I thought He would, I know what He will give me is exactly what I need.
But something keeps pulling on my heart. I’m beginning to wonder if I was a little premature in declaring this a season of disappointment and a year of embracing the emptiness these hands feel.
I’m not sure if this is temptation lurking, enticing my attention so I can be hurled back into the confusion. Surely the only thing looking back would accomplish is putting a megaphone to that little voice in the back of my head that says, “Look at what you wanted, and look at what God didn’t do for you.” That’s not His voice. I only want to hear His, not the voice of the enemy.
Still, what if this is a call to look back and see things I had refused to acknowledge before? To see ways He worked and things He provided; prayers He answered that I maybe didn’t even realize my heart was whispering?
I’m not quite ready to look back. But I can work my way there. And maybe He’s beginning to provide the assurance I need to grow confidence to pick up these broken pieces and see how they are being made whole right in front of me. He will redeem.
So I take a few glances. What I see is slowly softening my heart. Doors were opened. Provision was given. There was strength and courage to walk through situations I never thought I could. Protection was granted. Hope was planted. Dreams have and are unfolding, even if they don’t look exactly like I thought they would. I’ve stared at these full hands and declared them empty, only because they’re not full of the things that I want at this very moment.
But that’s how Satan works. He twists our perspective so we cannot see the blessings. He wants us to see barrenness where there is abundance.
Abundance of grace. Abundance of goodness. Abundance of unshakable promises.
And my heart still wants to scream, But if not, He is still good! at the sight of waiting, because I’m really just afraid of disappointment. I want to prepare my heart for it so it won’t hurt as much when it inevitably comes. I expect it. I think He gives this in plenty, and convince myself He’s stingy with the stuff that I think will make me happy.
Satan says, “Look at these unanswered prayers. Look at these blurry promises. Look at these disappointments. Look at these empty hands that will never hold anything more than thorns and broken things. Look at these things and just try to keep going with all those breaks of the heart that are surely still up ahead.”
The enemy wants you to believe you can’t do it. He wants you to believe there is nothing beautiful waiting for you up ahead. He wants to break you.
God’s voice says, “I’m not finished yet.“
This is something I think we both need to hear: Sometimes the story does end in tragedy. Sometimes there are things we cannot explain. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes we will have unfulfilled hopes. Sometimes the thing we want more than anything else will never happen. Nothing on this earth is guaranteed.
But what is guaranteed is this brokenness will not last forever. At times I wonder how anyone could still have hope and joy when their circumstance on earth appears to be nothing but suffering.
That’s where I have found the promises I continually cling to.
Nothing on this earth, joy or suffering, could ever compare to what’s still ahead. Not what is ahead on this earth, but our glorious hope for eternity, where we will be reunited with Christ. It is assured. Every longing from this earth will cease and we will not have to keep running from the nightmare of disappointment.
No more longing to escape fear. No more longing to grasp temporary things. No more longing and failing to let go of things we do not need. No more longing to run away from the pain. No more longing for unrealized desires. No more longing to mend a broken heart.
We will be made whole. And all our desires will fade away into the reality of completeness we will find in the presence of our Savior.
I speak this over my heart again and again. These longings may be strong now, the disappointment of never having them may be overwhelming, but it is not the end of the story.
And I think we both need to hear this, too –
The Lord does not want you to live in disappointment. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t want us to feel sorrow and hurt and all the flood of emotions we feel. He just doesn’t want us to be controlled by them, or allow them to inform our view of Him. He wants us to live in joy and confidence that His plans are good. They are so good that they are beyond our comprehension. We literally could not wrap our mind around them even if we tried. They may not always feel good in the moment, but He is always working everything together for our ultimate good.
He cares about the desires of our heart. Our requests do reach His ears. And He may give many of these things to us. I find we often are quick to label something as a lost cause because we’re really just impatient and frustrated He isn’t working within our ideal timeframe. But even more than He wants to give us good earthly things, He wants to give us Himself. He wants us to desire His dreams for our life.
What do I want in this life? My dreams are to serve the Lord – and, in the future, I really hope marriage, family, adoption, ministry work, and a few books on the shelf with my name on the byline are part of that plan. These are my long-term desires. There are some other things I’ve been processing over the last few years, too. And as I make that list, I’m also tempted to quickly declare if not, He is still good.
It’s true. He is. But instead of being quick to make this declaration, maybe my heart is being drawn to remember that He has not yet finished what He started. Just because it is not here now, it does not mean His will not give later.
I’m going to stick my neck out here for a moment.
Whatever you’re waiting for, please don’t give up. Please do not be quick to declare emptiness when the answers to our prayers may be growing under the surface, where we cannot see, taking root in a foundation that cannot be thwarted by anything of this world.
Freshly planted seeds may seem like barrenness. But they are full of promise of abundance, when it is the Lord who will allow them to grow and flourish.
I don’t know if He really will fulfill all the dreams on your heart. But isn’t the risk of disappointment worth the chance to say I believed, I held firm, and He was and is and always will be faithful?
We can say that whether or not those dreams are fulfilled. But what keeps me up at night is the overwhelming excitement over the thought of having the opportunity to declare on this earth that He did what felt to me like the impossible. I want to be able to say faith became sight here and now, not just when I get to Heaven. I want to be able to stand in front of the world years from now and say, look at what He did when all hope seemed lost!
Still, impatience gets the better of me and I want to see it now and have it now and know now for sure that He will give me these things. But I’m not meant to know right now. The thing about faith is that sight makes it pointless. We have to have a moment of not seeing in front of us what we believe is to come, in order to cultivate the faith to which we’ve been called. Anyone can believe after they’ve seen. Faith is precious. Take hold of it. Grow it. Cling to it.
There are only two months left until a final verdict is declared on how well the surgery resolved this year and a half long struggle. After ten months, all hope seems lost to me. But time has not run out. He can do more in these two months than I could ever do in a hundred. He isn’t finished yet.
I think I’ll always wrestle with this struggle of waiting and hope, and both real and perceived disappointment. I know I won’t figure it out. In the meantime, I will remember that our hope in Christ is real and eternal. Disappointment is temporary. And everything is ultimately designed to draw us back to the promises He has given us in His Word, which can never be shaken. They will never lead to disappointment – that is for sure.