Quick update on our little guy: tomorrow marks the beginning of third trimester. Feel free to make a collective sigh with me. I just cannot get over how special this time is with him in my belly.
Once he’s born, I’ll never have these days again. Obvious, I know, but still it strikes me so.
Now on to things other than pregnancy…
Most of my reading has consisted of blogs and articles lately (so millennial of me, it’s awful), but I did read a short little book called Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith when Dreams are Delayed by Betsy Childs Howard and it’s worth writing about and recommending to you. This book intrigued me when I first heard about it because waiting has often been one of God’s primary ways of sanctifying me. Seasons of waiting in my life have been both the saddest and sweetest times of my life. These seasons have exposed my misplaced hopes and made me cling to Jesus with desperation.
Some of the big messages of the book are that “[r]ather than end my waiting, he [God] wants to bless my waiting” (pg. 14) and that waiting “brings us to the end of what we can control and forces us to cry out to God” (pg. 16). Waiting reminds us that “all is not right with the world” (pg. 18). We are ultimately waiting for the day when Jesus comes back and undoes all the brokenness caused by sin.
In discussing singleness, I appreciated how Howard’s pointed out that celibacy within the single Christian life should be recognized as a form of fasting. I have rarely heard that among Christians but I completely agree. She also corrects the horrible theology that Christians sometimes perpetuate when they share Psalm 37:4 with a single woman desiring marriage: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I cannot remember how many times I’ve heard people use this verse to tell someone if you desire something, God will give it to you. The verse tells us that if you delight yourself in God, he will satisfy your desires because your ultimate desire is for himself. She also teaches us that “while you may never be content with your singleness, you can know God’s joy in your singleness” (pg. 33).
In the chapter on waiting for a child, I like how she said “just because a spiritual child seems less real to us than a biological or adopted child does not make it true” (pg. 47). After graduating college when I was working with women in college ministry, I remember seeing how God was satisfying my desires to nurture others through discipleship relationships with younger women. Even though I still deeply longed to mother children of my own, I saw how God had given me these women to pour into in a similar mothering way. In my waiting, God was giving me joy and satisfying my desires in ways I never expected.
In the chapter on waiting for healing, Howard’s states, “those who praise God in the midst of their suffering, even though he has not removed that suffering, show a kind of faith that can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit within them. It is not natural to give thanks and rejoice while being imprisoned in a groaning, aching body” (pg. 56). There are several people in my life who are dealing with chronic pain or disease and seeing them worship the Lord in the middle of it is so powerful. It reveals a faith that is sustained no matter the earthly outcome. The promise we are given of one day having a resurrected body free from the effects of sin and death gives me so much hope.
Seasons of waiting can uniquely equip us to love others well:
“Someone who lives with unmet desires is uniquely able to identify with and comfort others who live with unmet desires, even if their longings are of a different sort. If we wait to reach out to others from a position of fullness, we will never do it. If, on the other hand, we love others out of our own emptiness, we will–paradoxically–find we have an abundance of love to give” (pg. 34).
Howard’s states that it’s okay if we feel like we don’t have what it takes to wait for the long haul. All we need to do is ask ourselves, “Can you trust God to get you through today?” (pg. 90). God gives us grace to wait one day at a time, so whether our waiting is for a lifetime or for one more day, God will give us the grace we need to lean on him. Our prayers do not need “to be formed into words for God to understand us. If all you can do is cry to God, he is trustworthy to receive it” (pg. 93). When I think back on some of the hardest seasons of my life, I am reminded of how tear ridden those seasons were. Remembering how God hears the prayers that don’t even have the energy to form words and sentences makes me so thankful.
God is the only one who can not just sustain us, but also help us experience joy, through seasons of waiting.