What Do We Do While We’re Waiting?

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So far, as we’ve considered the topic of waiting, we have thought about how sometimes the wisest thing we can do is nothing, and that often we have to seek God for the breakthrough in his time and his way.  We have thought about God’s plan and what that means for us as we wait.

But what are we actually meant to do as we wait?  Some of our waits can be long.  Surely we’re not just meant to sit twiddling our thumbs, waiting for the moment to come?

I don’t think we are, so I looked at examples of people waiting in the Bible, and I want to share four suggestions I found there of more productive things we can do while we wait.

We can pray.  When Nehemiah receives news that the situation is bad in Jerusalem, that the walls have been torn down and the gates have been destroyed by fire, his response is to pray.  He mourns, fasts and prays for several days, and at some point God places a dream in his heart to see Jerusalem restored but he has to wait for the right moment to take action to move this forward.  It is around five months from the time Nehemiah hears the news until he raises the matter with the King and asks for permission to return to Jerusalem, but in the meantime he has been praying.  This challenges me that I need to pray more about the dream God has placed on my heart.  Prayer can prepare the path for our dreams to become reality. 

We can prepare.    Before Nehemiah approaches the King, he has clearly thought things through and come up with a plan.  He knows exactly what he needs to ask the King for: how much time he will need to be away from his role as cup-bearer, and what he will need, both in terms of practical resources for the building work and letters to various governors granting him safe passage through their territory.  All of this means that when the right moment comes for Nehemiah to discuss the matter with the King, he is ready.  As we pray, God may reveal to us practical steps we can take to prepare. (We do need to be careful though to make sure we’re seeking God and his plan and not just trying to make things happen by ourselves. That’s why prayer has to come first.)

We can be faithful.  We looked before at the story of Joseph and his times of waiting as he worked as a slave and endured unfair imprisonment.  In both of these waits, Joseph is faithful in fulfilling the duties assigned to him, and as a result he is put in charge of Potiphar’s entire household and of his fellow-prisoners.  It would have been easy for Joseph to become angry and bitter about the treatment he received, but instead he remains faithful.  God can use the wait to build our character.

And finally, we can look for ways God wants to use us.  It is easy, when we’re waiting, to become fixated on the object of our wait, but when that becomes our focus we can miss the ways God wants to use us now.  Joseph was open to how God wanted to use him in his time of waiting- both in his faithfulness in completing his duties and in his willingness to use his gifts to interpret the dreams of his fellow-prisoners.  A song that has spoken to me on this subject lately is “The Very Next Thing” by Casting Crowns with its encouragement to look for:

“The very next words of love to be spoken
To the very next heart that’s shattered and broken,
To the very next way you’re gonna use me.
Show me the next thing.”

God has plans to use us now, even in our time of waiting, and sometimes, as with Joseph, those little acts of obedience and faithfulness can open the doors to our future in ways we would never have imagined.

For more thoughts on what we can do while we’re waiting, check out this great post by Bethany: Waiting Isn’t Passive.

Join me throughout November and December as we explore the topic of waiting.  Click here for an index page of all the posts in the series.

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dreamtogether-linkup      Holly Barrett     purposefulfaith.com         

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39 thoughts on “What Do We Do While We’re Waiting?

  1. I just wanted to pop in to say I loved your 5 minute writing on Joy as well as this post on waiting. Maybe God needed me to read them back to back as I am searching for joy as I wait. I can also pray, prepare, and be faithful…all great reminder I needed this morning.
    Advent blessings,
    Bev

    Liked by 1 person

  2. SO helpful, Lesley! All four things we’ve been praying and seeking in our waiting season too. I know you have too. Thanks for showing how God has given us these practical examples of “to dos” while waiting in Scripture. Nehemiah and Joseph are two precious examples to me.

    Also—Casting Crowns song— totally heard it for the first time on the radio while praying to the Lord about this very topic. He hears and He answers- even using the radio! We’re so blessed by the kindness of our Lord!

    Thanks for linking to my post- I’m so honored to be included in sharing God’s view on waiting! Praying for you!

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    1. Thanks, Bethany! I love how God has spoken to us through the same song and that it came on the radio as you were praying about this! Glad to share your post. Thank you for your prayers- continuing to pray for you too!

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  3. Hi Lesley! What a great question, and even better answer. I do agree that waiting doesn’t mean passive, but I do think it means that God is first and foremost, and when it’s time, he will reveal.
    What could be better than prayer? It opens us up to his grace, and demonstrates a faith that continues on in the waiting, and that’s being faithful!
    I hope you’re having a wonderful Advent, awaiting the coming of the Savior!
    Ceil

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  4. I love your practical encouragement here! Waiting can feel so stagnant and lonely, but waiting is still a verb. There is action even in it’s stillness. Thank you for reminding me today!
    Visiting from #DreamTogether!

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  5. Wow this really convicts me. “Prayer can prepare the path for our dreams to become reality.” I know I am impulsive and jump into action, and love how prayer helps us focus and prepare for those God-sized dreams. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It convicts me too! My natural tendency would be to jump in and take action, but prayer definitely helps us focus and make sure we’re moving ahead with God’s plans and not our own. Thanks for visiting, Renee!

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    1. Thanks, Linda. I think we all have times when we want to see the whole path ahead of us but there is peace when we just focus on the next step, trusting that God has it under control.

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  6. I love your four ideas to do while we are waiting. You are right in saying that waiting isn’t passive. It is a time to pray, prepare, walk in faith and think of ways God can use us. This line right here is beautiful… “Prayer can prepare the path for our dreams to become reality.” Amen. Advent blessings to you my friend!

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  7. Lesley, how have I missed this song? I love it! I really appreciate your point about not getting so fixated on what we are waiting for that we miss how God wants to use us now. I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past, though hopefully not as much now. 🙂 Wonderful post, my friend!

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  8. Wow Lesley–this is such a timely reminder for me! It’s easy to get frustrated in times of waiting . Especially for a girl who struggles with being patient. I need to remember to stay in and prayer and faithfully seek Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Lesley,
    Such good thoughts here! It’s hard to know what to do when we’re waiting but we can take examples from scripture and Nehemiah is a beautiful example! He was so intentional about God had placed in his heart that so clearly speaks us to today. Waiting isn’t easy, but when we look for what we can do while we’re waiting, there’s so much God wants to show us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Valerie! I love Nehemiah’s story, and he is a great example. It definitely helps to stay open to what God wants to do now, rather than becoming fixated on the object of our wait.

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  10. I am learning that no matter what, God is worth the waiting. Learning to trust Him during times of waiting is hard. But how it must please Him when I can put aside my impatience to wait on Him. Beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

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