The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It was easy for me to be a Tom Petty fan, growing up in the middle of America, surrounded by perfectly straight two-lane roads and corn. When I drove down those roads and heard American Girl on the radio, that was me.

So when the pastor started talking about Advent, and waiting for Jesus in church today, it was no surprise when The Waiting popped into my head.

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Tom Petty didn't write that song about Jesus, but I think it is safe to say that no matter what you are waiting for, the waiting is the hardest part.

Which (stay with me now) made me think about Hannah, and that morning's Sunday school lesson for the two year olds. Hannah wanted a baby, and I think the hardest part for her must have been the waiting:

Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. I Samuel 1:6-7

Did you catch that? It went on year after year. And it must have seemed even longer with that awful rival around. Hannah cried. She couldn't eat. Can you imagine?

Well, maybe you can. Maybe you are waiting on something and you are just about at the end of your rope. Maybe you don't want to wait any longer. Maybe you've cried, you've lost your appetite, and maybe the waiting has moved past hard to unbearable. . .

I don't know the answer, but I know what Hannah did. She let it all out.

In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. I Samuel 1:10

And then, God gave her a son. Her waiting was over. Well, kind of. In her anguished prayer, Hannah had promised to (eventually) give her son back to God. She kept her word, and when she left her young boy, Samuel, at the temple, she prayed this amazing prayer:

“My heart rejoices in the LORD;
in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.

2 “There is no one holy like the LORD;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the LORD is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.

4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.

6 “The LORD brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The LORD sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s;
on them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the LORD will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
the LORD will judge the ends of the earth.

“He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

1 Samuel 2:1-10

I wonder if walking away at that point was the hardest part for Hannah? I wonder how she did it? How did she do it with a joyful, praise-filled heart?

Later, Hannah's son heard God's voice directly. Hannah, who had cried out to God, she didn't hear God's voice. She got an answer, to be sure, but it was her son who became the great prophet. Not her. Samuel was the great communicator with God.

I'd like to think that the line of communication started with Hannah; with her patient waiting, her gut-wrenching prayer, and her dedicated follow through. She got past the waiting with an amazing amount of faith. It was enough faith to obey, no matter what.

Enough faith . . . that is where my thoughts veered into a "lightbulb moment." Maybe, sometimes, it is God who is waiting. Waiting on our faith to move from average to amazing. Waiting on us to be ready for the answer, ready to obey, no matter what. Maybe that is what the waiting is all about.

How do you feel about waiting?

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8 Responses to “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”

  1. Great post! I love the story of Hannah. I think we do better with waiting when we are living from a place of peace and rest. When I am coming from the place of peace and rest I embrace what God has in store even if I have to wait. It is usually in the striving and fighting the challenge instead of accepting it that I don't do well with waiting.

    P.S. You should sign up for my giveaway over at The Pearl! :)

  2. Waiting is hard, especially when you know that what you are waiting for is the right and godly thing.  The peace that comes with waiting is so important because at times, I fall into hopelessness instead.  

  3. GOD is ever so patient, waiting for us--His specks of dust, to trust Him and obey His Voice. I love Hannah's example for us. Her story was so much bigger than herself...and ours can be also, if we abide in Him.

  4. I love your post!  I wrote a 31 Days Series on Active Waiting, and as we approach Advent, I can't believe I didn't write about this season in my posts!  I am consciously experiencing Advent this season more than  most - and it is such a gift!  I have waiting in joy, in expectation, and also in fear, in frustration, in loneliness...thank you so much for the Scripture and the story - so happy to have found your blog. (Oh, and I loved hearing Tom Petty too :)  Blessings to you

  5. Thank you for this post today....I really needed it! Thank you thank you!

  6. That story of Hannah always slays me. I mean, seriously. What great faith. Truly, incredibly amazing. Your insight into Hannah's legacy for Samuel - a heart that could hear the voice of God - is absolutely spectacular. Thanks for unpacking this story for us.

  7. thank you for your comment on my blog.So glad you did and I visited here to read about Hannah. I really identify with her as I too waited a long time on the Lord for my youngest and it was when I stopped trying to do it in my own strength and my own way and just gave it all to God that my prayer was answered.

  8. I am in a waitng period right now, and I admit, I don't love it. I chafe in the waiting. But I appreciate your point...that perhaps God is waiting for me, rather than the opposite. This is the second post I've read tonight with that similar message -- maybe He is trying to tell me something?