Updated: Oct 1, 2022
Today I’m over 38 weeks pregnant. A little miracle child has been growing inside me for over nine months, and her existence speaks to God’s redemption of my body and the trials it’s been through. But acknowledging the miracle and the gratitude, quite frankly I’m sick of being pregnant. There are very few parts of pregnancy I could say are pleasant, and I am ready to both meet my daughter and start the road to recovering some semblance of a new normal with my body.
Most women start labor during the night, so the past few days I’ve woken up disappointed. I turn my alarm off each morning and ask God to help me be grateful and to give me his sufficient grace to get through another day of discomfort. Then I attempt to shift my body to the side using a bizarre bridge technique that hurts my sore, expanding pelvis, I remove the pillows with which I’ve encircled myself all night, and I use my arms to push myself into a sitting position. I subdue the feeling of nausea rising in my chest and let the baby inside me drop with the weight of gravity to painfully pull on my overextended stomach ligaments. I take a deep breath, try not to cry from frazzled hormones and the weight of facing another painful day, and lift myself up out of bed.
Thankfully, God meets us wherever we are, especially when we turn an ear to him to listen. Yesterday he prompted four friends to check in on me when I desperately needed encouragement. Then this morning he brought me to Isaiah 66:9: “‘Do I bring the moment of birth and not give delivery?’ says the LORD. ‘Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?’” Then I started thinking about all of you, about the dreams and visions that he has placed within you, and how pregnancy and birth are the metaphors we use to describe when God grows a hope so tangible inside of us that it takes on a life of its own.
I couldn’t help but think a lot of you are pregnant with a dream the Lord has given you, and you’ve been feeling a lot like I have lately. You’re exhausted from carrying the weight of it. You see stretch marks appearing on your skin because the journey has already extended you past the limits of what you thought was possible. You’re excited because you’re about to birth that thing you’ve nurtured and share it with the world. Yet you’re also nervous, because you know the birth of your dream will be painful, and it’s not like you’ll get a huge break once the birth takes place. Instead, you’ll be thrust into the new season of parenting this thing God has brought out of you.
When we’re so close to seeing a passion reach its fulfillment, it can seem like the days drag on, and we start telling God to hurry up. We know that God is the only one who can make things grow (1 Corinthians 3:7) and that his timing is always perfect, and yet we believe that we can force him into acting within our timeline. So while you’re waiting on something that seems close to fruition and so far away at the same time, here are five ways you can wait in a way that honors the Lord.
5 Ways to Wait Patiently on God
1. Surrender your timeline.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, and I think it’s almost impossible to have authentic, joyful patience apart from the Lord. The Bible makes it clear that God does not approve of those who cannot wait for his timing. Isaiah 5:19 says,
“Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, to those who say, ‘Let God hurry; let him hasten his work so we may see it. The plan of the Holy One of Israel—let it approach, let it come into view, so we may know it.’”
But “surrendering” has become such a cliché Christian term that I feel like we hardly know what it means anymore. In order to surrender to God’s timing, it means we must trust that his ways are better than ours and his thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9). Then we must submit in obedience to his ways, like our Savior did.
Just as Jesus displayed his great need and desire to have the cup of God’s wrath taken from him so that he did not have to endure the cross, he also submitted to his Father’s plan, saying, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). It’s human to want to tell God to hurry, especially if we’re talking about him fulfilling something we think he placed in our hearts. But what is human is often of the flesh, and we are called to live according to the way of the Spirit (Romans 8:12-13).
If you’ve longed for your own timeline, acknowledge the root of your desire. Then submit that desire to God. Repent for not trusting God’s timeline, and then ask God to give you the grace and patience needed to wait on his timing. In this submission, you will receive the freedom and the dependence that comes from surrendering to God.
2. Fight comparison.
Since my mom gave birth to both my brother and me at 36 weeks, I thought I might get lucky and not have to endure pregnancy until 40 or 41 weeks of gestation. I’ve been looking at all my friends who have given birth in the past few months at 37 or 38 weeks, and I have to repent of my jealousy when I realize I would already be finished with pregnancy and on to the next season if I were them.
We do the same thing with the dreams and hopes God has conceived inside of us. We look at the one-in-a-million success stories and ask God if our dream is anointed why he can’t make that our story. We look at people whose backgrounds we don’t know and assume it was so much easier for them to birth their dream than it has been for us to partner with God in birthing ours.
Comparison steals the joy of your season, and it breeds impatience. Proverbs 14:30 says, “jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” I’ve had a degenerating muscle inside me, so I know what a rotting body part feels like. Trust me, you don’t want decay in the bones that hold up your body. If you let jealousy fester, it will wear away at you until one day you’ll find your foundation crumbling beneath you.
To fight comparison, we must institute systems of gratitude in our lives. This morning I started thanking God for the things in my body that I was grateful for: the fact that I can still swim, that I’m not dealing with constipation so many pregnant women are at this point, and that I can still sleep some, even if it is interrupted by trips to the bathroom every couple hours. Those seem like simple things, but they were monumental in reminding myself of things for which I am truly grateful.
While you wait, what can you be grateful for? Start small with your gratitude. Let God fill your heart with how he’s working in your life, and it will take your eyes off of how he’s working in someone else’s life.
3. Check your heart and your habits.
Many times when God has given us a picture of something he wants to do in our lives, we start out with pure intentions. But as that baby dream grows inside of us, we have an awful long time of incubation to let our desires and our attitudes shift.
Because of various issues I’ve had in my body, I was stunned to become pregnant shortly after my husband and I starits.ted trying to have a baby. Since I run a ministry for people in physical pain and limitation, I’ve seen a lot of suffering at the hands of infertility, miscarriage, and child loss. I’ve always said I never want to complain about anything in pregnancy, because having a child is a blessing that many don’t get to have. Yet lo and behold, add in some severe back pain, nausea, swelling hands and problems with my digestion, and it’s gotten a lot more difficult not to complain.
The everyday realities of bringing a dream to pass are never as glamorous as the vision God places in our hearts at the beginning. We need that vision, because “without vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). But keeping God’s vision at the forefront, untainted by our selfish desires, requires that we constantly let him search our hearts. Psalm 139:23-24 says,
“Search me, oh God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
When we honestly seek God’s revelation about our motives, the Holy Spirit is faithful to reveal it to us. We can also check our habits to see if they are revealing unholy thought patterns, idolatry, or coping mechanisms (think about your morning routine, your technology limits, how you prioritize prayer and time in the Word, etc.). When the Holy Spirit reveals a misplaced motive in our hearts or habits, then it is our job to respond in repentance and obedience to his next steps.
4. Wrestle with God.
I’ve been having all the signs my email updates have told me to look for regarding labor approaching - low back aching, pelvis pressure as the baby descends, and even a huge bout of nausea. So I keep expecting to go into labor at night, only to wake up disappointed the next morning when it doesn’t happen. That’s the thing about waiting on God to bring to completion a dream he has been growing in us - we don’t often talk about how disappointing it is to keep hoping, only to be let down again.
We can muster up enough faith to hope again after being disappointed a few times, but it is only God who can keep us hoping after we’ve felt let down time after time. Numbers 23:19 says,
“God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
If God has truly spoken something into your life, he will bring it to pass. If you are staying on track with him, letting him check your heart and redirect you, and then readjusting in obedience, God will take you where you need to be when you need to be there. It’s your job not to let go of him in the process, either because you become bitter about his delays in timing or because you get so tired of waiting on God that you decide perseverance is too much work.
Like Jacob, we must wrestle with God until we receive the blessing. If we hang on to God amidst the disappointment and the struggle, we’ll find his character. When we know God’s character, we can’t help but be filled with hope - the kind of hope that endures until we see him bring our dream to birth.
5. Foster faith and patience.
Hebrews 6:12 says,
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
As we’re waiting for the birth of what God has planted in us to come to pass, we are not called to just sit back and sip our lattes. We are not to be lazy, but to allow God to give us his indwelling grace for each day in order to complete the tasks he has laid before us. In these last few weeks of pregnancy, I could just give up on accomplishing anything because of my back pain and curl up with a good book (lying on my side to avoid back pain, of course) until our baby arrives. Or I could let God redefine my definition of productivity amidst my limitations and do what he has placed before me each day, whether that’s writing a blog, preparing a sermon, or working on the Bible study he has called me to write.
As we are working diligently unto the Lord where he has placed us in this season, we must not only have patience, but we must have faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6). We must have faith that he is good, he does good, and he works all things together for our good, even if what we are currently experiencing is not good.
God will bring to completion the good work he has began in you (Philippians 1:6). His Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). He will lead you in his way everlasting (Psalm 139:24). Store up God’s truth in your heart, let his Spirit fill you with patience, and let his faithfulness overflow your heart with faith.
So will God bring you to the moment of birth and not bring the delivery? No, Friend. He’s too faithful for that. He will grow this dream or hope he has entrusted you with until it is time to birth it into the world. He will need your partnership and submission, but with those he will bring it to pass. Submit to his ways, surrender to his timing, and watch the Lord fight for the dream he wants to birth in your life.
UPDATE: I only had to wait about a week after writing this post before we welcomed sweet Anwyn Charis DeNeui into the world!