Waiting is hard for most of us. And right now most of us are practicing some form of “sheltering in place” to distance ourselves from COVID-19 as we wait for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to fade away.
Whether it’s waiting out COVID-19 or waiting for a writing-related project, you may be in God’s waiting room today. Have you been praying for something, waiting for an answer, hoping your circumstances will change? Are you waiting for an agent? A book contract? Maybe you’re waiting to save enough money to attend a writers’ conference. Or you’re waiting for feedback from a writing contest you entered.
I confess, waiting is not my favorite activity. And when I found myself in those times of uncertainty, I wondered, is there a proper way for Christians to wait? Should we be doing something while we wait, or is waiting, well, just waiting?
For the Christian, waiting is not a passive experience. Even though this may sound contradictory, waiting is active.
Here are four things the Bible tells us to do while we wait on the Lord:
Do it with courage
Waiting takes courage. As Christians, we don’t cower in fear over what may happen. The future may be uncertain, but we belong to the One who not only knows the future, He holds it in the palm of His hand! David phrased it this way in Psalm 27:14 (ESV):
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Courage helps you enter those writing contests, even though you may not think you’ll win. Courage strengthens you to attend a writers’ conference even though you’re an introvert and spending a week with a few hundred people is way out of your comfort zone. And courage moves you to submit your work to critique partners, even though it feels as if they’re criticizing your “baby.”
Stay in His Word
During times of waiting, we can be bombarded with advice that may sound good. It may even be what we want to hear. But if we’re not careful, we can be influenced by well-meaning advice that is not consistent with God’s Word. Use this time to soak in what God has said, both to be encouraged and to be prepared for whatever answer the Lord brings. As the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 130:5-6 (ESV):
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”
Writing advice comes at us from all directions. And sometimes it’s contradictory. But as we anchor ourselves in God’s Word, His peace will reign and we’ll be able to calmly weigh what we’re told, separating the wheat from the chaff (Matthew 3:12).
Wait in Silence
This one can be especially difficult for me. During our times of waiting, it’s easy for us to make our request the topic of conversation in every conversation! We whine about our pain. We complain about the injustice. We throw ourselves pity parties. However, King David reminds us in Psalm 62:5 (ESV):
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share our concern and ask for prayer or even ask for favor with agents and editors. But it does mean that once we do, we should also spend our time seeking God’s heart, growing in quiet intimacy with Him during our time of waiting.
Persevere in Your Waiting
This one can also be difficult if we’re in an extended time of waiting. During this time, do what the Lord has called you to do. Are you in ministry? Continue to serve. Are you working? Work heartily (Colossians 3:23). The prophet tells us in Hosea 12:6 (ESV):
“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”
The answer will come. Still, it may not be the answer we want. That’s when we need to remember God is sovereign. Although our short-term circumstances might not appear so, He is always at work for our ultimate good and His eternal glory. As God’s children in Christ (John 1:12), we can rest in this assurance from the prophet Isaiah:
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4 ESV).
Our world has been turned upside down. And the publishing world will feel the effects even after COVID-19 is just a memory. It may take longer to receive a book contract or sign with an agent. Still, if we wait according to His Word, God will use these times of waiting for our good and for His glory.