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October 9, 2021

What to Do When You Feel Like Your Life is On Hold

Do you have the feeling like your life is on hold? Or maybe you’re watching things happen for other people—things that you think should be happening for you but aren’t. Are you stuck waiting on God and losing hope?

So much time seems to be centred on waiting for things. Waiting to graduate, waiting to get our dream job or career, waiting to find a home, waiting for a diagnosis, waiting to find a spouse or have a family.

As much as we dislike it, waiting is often a part of God’s plan for us. And this is backed up by Scripture. Here are just a few examples: Abraham and Sarah waiting for a child, Joseph waiting (and waiting) for justice and freedom, Israel waiting for a Messiah, and Christians waiting for Jesus’ second coming.

Waiting on the Lord in Faith

Be still in the presence of the Lord,

    and wait patiently for him to act.

Don’t worry about evil people who prosper

    or fret about their wicked schemes.

Psalm 37:7

Many Scripture verses remind and encourage us to wait patiently for the Lord to act. And on the surface, this is great advice. But when you’re in the thick of a waiting period, how do you do this without worrying or stressing? How do you wait on the Lord in a way that fills you with hope, gives you the strength to carry on and live full, meaningful lives even when you feel like you’re stuck in limbo?

If you’ve prayed about a situation for a long time without receiving answers, then you know what it’s like to live with a question gnawing at the back of your mind.

Even if you haven’t had to wait for God yet, at some point you will. And sometimes you’ll have to wait for a long time. But God is working and He does answer prayers, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Like John Piper says, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”

While We Wait, Life Still Happens

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Matthew 6:33

There are many things I’ve waited for in my life and things I’m waiting for now—hoping and praying God will make the dreams in my heart become reality.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned when I’m in a season of waiting is to focus my energy on seeking God rather than fixating on the thing I’m waiting for.

When I was 19, I thought I knew exactly what I was supposed to do with my life. I had thought and prayed about my options and found a perfect opportunity overseas that would meet many of my desires all at once. Everything was working out how it was supposed to. I was accepted into the discipleship program, my visa was in order and I had the necessary funds. But a few weeks before I was supposed to go I received an email letting me know the school had cancelled the program.

I was crushed and confused. Wasn’t this God’s leading? Why would He take this away right before my life was supposed to begin?

The email also said they would run the program again, and they could defer my enrollment to a future date if I’d like. I thought about it and decided that pushing it forward a year would be fine. But what would I do in the meantime? I had an entire year to wait.

This incredible disappointment led to a decision, which I’ve reflected on many times in the years since this experience.

I could have passively waited for time to pass, but instead, I opted to use this “lost year” as an opportunity to do something I had wanted to do but didn’t think I had space for: attend Bible college and spend a year volunteering at an after-school kids program.

While this situation wasn’t how I had dreamed of spending my time, I chose to look at it as a chance to invest in my spiritual knowledge and give my time to a ministry I appreciated and wanted to do more with. I didn’t understand why I had to wait, but I trusted God would still make my dreams come to pass, somehow. I couldn’t worry about the timing or the rationale—my responsibility was waiting with expectancy and seeking Him in the meantime.

The Two Ways to Wait

The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

Lamentations 3:25

The Christian life is such a fine balance of trusting God to take care of us and us taking action in faith. No one enjoys waiting. It makes us impatient and frustrated and doesn’t mesh with the timeline we have for our lives.

In these situations, we can choose to sit back, do nothing, and wait passively for God to act, or we can look for ways to participate in the waiting by anticipating God showing up and doing a great work at any moment.

Active waiting pushes us to change our perspective of what this perceived downtime is. To us, it feels like a setback, but it may be an incredible opportunity to, as Lamentations 3:25 says, search for God.

The risk of passive waiting is we’re allowing doubt to creep in. In this situation you hope something good will happen and then if it doesn’t when you think it should, you give up waiting and start acting in your own strength.

Active waiting demonstrates the trust that God will come through, in His time and in His way. We accept the discomfort of not knowing and ask how we can make the most of this opportunity to grow in our faith and relationship with God. This type of waiting can be a real gift if we choose to see it that way. But it does mean releasing control and submitting to God’s timeline.

Robyn Roste

Robyn Roste is a professional writer with blogging, marketing and tourism experience. She also has a bachelor of journalism and diplomas in media and communications and biblical studies.

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