Finding God in Life’s Waiting Room

“You have a plan for me.”

Each day I wake to these words, the opening lyrics to a worship song I set as my alarm some rejections ago. If I’m untroubled, I stop the song there and start my day. Other mornings, when my pillow is still damp from the previous night’s cry or my heart worn from waiting—35 years for a spouse, 15 months for a job, indefinitely for the resurrection of friendships lost—I let the whole thing play. Battling waves of envy, frustration, and shame I wait, echoing the psalmist’s heavenward cry: “My eyes fail, looking for your promise” (Ps. 119:82).

Delay can often feel like a burden. I used to squander such seasons, longing in vain for timely answers to tired prayers. I’d launch a countdown to God’s yes—and withhold praise until it arrived. Sadly, I knew nothing of the power that could transform a seemingly fallow, horizonless wait into one of lush, redemptive possibility. My eyes failed, looking not for Christ but for escape.

Waiting isn’t the wasted space around the greatest blessings of our lives; it’s their incubator. It tutors us in the way of faith, that divine vision beyond human sight (2 Cor. 5:7). It forces us to confront our insecurities and cross-examine our doubts. Above all, waiting invites us to retrace the well-worn paths of grace back to a bloody cross and empty tomb.

Weary and impatient, I’ve pelted God with questions: Will I ever be loved? Will unemployment ruin me? When will you reconcile this? However I articulate them, though, I’m convinced my questions sound to his ear more like, Are you really in control here? Are you trustworthy? Are you . . . enough?

Yet with patience, God has accompanied me through valleys of acute need. Along that terrain, he’s revealed his character in three profound and personal ways.

Is He Trustworthy?

For years, I made a lifestyle out of being faithless while hoping God would remain faithful. Although I’d once known the thrill of believing in a kind and able God, I’d begun, conditioned by disappointment, to bow before a god worth second-guessing whenever our timelines clashed.

As I examined my heart, I grieved my lack of faith. I sincerely wanted to trust God through my story’s unfinished middle. One romantic rejection away from breaking, I finally weighed my options: I could choose to see God’s blessing only when his yes aligned with my will, or I could take him at his word and trust the perpetual yes secured for me in Christ.

To trust God as I wait requires practicing the discipline of remembrance. Recalling his wondrous works re-magnetizes my heart Godward. My Bible reminds me I serve a loving and committed Savior. My life reminds me I’ve already experienced deliverance after deliverance by unpredictable grace. Rather than train myself, in disbelief, to be satisfied only with my will, I learn to suck the nectar of faith from disappointment and to find Christ both sufficient and sweet. Oh the fear-defying joy of trusting an almighty and attentive God!

Is He Enough?

I had already been unemployed for eight months when I learned I’d gotten neither job for which I’d been a finalist. But as fresh disappointment enveloped me, God’s Word did too. I told my friends, “It’s a comfort in my sadness that he gives me himself. I don’t know the details of my future, but I don’t need to know them. I need only to know him.” What a sweet place to be—and how different from the past, when I’d treated God like a temporary solution for longing rather than its greatest fulfillment.

I began to pray differently, too. Instead of just requesting provision, I focused on his sufficiency. I didn’t want the magnitude of “I will be your God” (Lev. 26:12) to be lost on me like it was on the Israelites. The more they focused on the perks of the promised land, the more their greatest possession became an afterthought. Instead, I wanted the psalmist’s boasts—“I have no good apart from you. . . . The LORD is my chosen portion. . . . In your presence there is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:2, 5, 11)—to be my own.

In my wait, I use my lack to plumb God’s plenty. I lamented not being romantically pursued—but God reminded me of the lengths he went to make me his. I had no job to validate my significance—but I relished the worth Christ conferred. Over the years, I had prayed for both the gift and the Giver. I’ve watched with wonder as the Giver has revealed himself to be the gift.

Is He in Control?

I once listened to a group of women list reasons they were single: challenging city dating-scapes, demanding careers, passive men in their churches, unattainable beauty standards, clueless ex-boyfriends, and so on. I too had my list. Even as I worked to change certain circumstances in my life, singleness stubbornly remained. Marriage isn’t a respecter of physique, age, education, or experience.

Underlying the list of reasons for my singleness is the unseen, fundamental one: singleness is God’s will for me right now. Neither geography, statistics, nor some dating pool can thwart God’s plans.

So I wait, trusting Scripture’s insistence that God’s sovereign will prevails (Job 42:2; Ps. 37:23; Prov. 16:1; 19:21; 20:24; 21:1; Isa. 14:27; Jer. 10:23; Eph. 1:11). Though I dream of a thousand elsewheres while I wait, here is where God longs to be found. I cry, “How long, O LORD” (Ps. 13:1), and he answers: not a moment longer than necessary. He knows the agonizing blessing of saying, “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). I neither resign myself to the uncertainty of the wait, nor do I stop praying for my unfulfilled desires. Instead, I surrender it all to God, trusting him to use it for my good.

Waiting Is Holy Work

Hope and joy have come to me through one-moment-at-a-time maintenance: remembering God’s faithfulness, meditating on his sufficiency, and resting in his sovereignty. I rehearse these truths multiple times a day, whether dry-eyed or teary. I ask friends for help. I confess when I struggle. I seek grace to do what I cannot.

Waiting has turned out to be holy work. We don’t learn endurance without it and without endurance, we have no hope. With hope, however, we disarm despair (Rom. 5:3–5).

But when we welcome waiting as heaven’s instrument—when we don’t simply endure it but mine its riches—we become a God-assured, God-satiated, and God-led people, radiant and readied for our King.

He has a plan for us.