Christina Fox received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She is the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey Through the Psalms of Lament (Christian Focus, 2016). You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and www.Facebook.com/
"We are going to need to biopsy this because it could be cancerous."
Had I not been sitting down, these words from my doctor would have pushed me over. Unexpected health problems always seem to knock the breath out of us, don't they? They take us by surprise. It's like the ground beneath our feet starts shaking. We look for something—anything—to grab onto to steady us.
At least that's how I felt.
My doctor found a growth in my thyroid and sent me for a biopsy. (A needle in the neck—what could be more fun?). And then I had to wait for the results. For almost two weeks. Two weeks of thoughts swirling around my mind like a whirlpool; a vortex of frightening scenarios sucking me under. All those what if's? and I can't's! stringing together to form a line which then encircled my heart, drawing tighter and tighter.
I think waiting is one of the most emotionally tortuous things we go through in life. But when you think about it, we are almost always in a state of waiting.
Waiting for the check to come in so we can pay the bill.
Waiting for a child to mature out of a difficult stage.
Waiting for love to blossom again.
Waiting for a job to open up.
Waiting for expected news.
Waiting to conquer a sin that besieges us day after day.
Waiting for the sun to rise upon our darkened circumstances.
Waiting for change. Any change.
Waiting for a relationship to be restored.
Waiting for what's broken to be mended.
Waiting for health and healing.
Waiting for Christ's return.
Not to mention all the little things we wait for: the traffic light to change, our turn at the cash register, for the elevator doors to open, an email or text returned, dinner to be served. Waiting is something we do almost every moment of our life. With that waiting comes a variety of emotions: impatience, fear, uncertainty, worry, anticipation, despair, dread, and anxiety. I think most of us would admit that we hate to wait. And the more important something is, the harder it is to wait.
In the Bible, waiting is looked at as something positive. As something good:
"The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD" (Lamentations 3:25-26).
"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Psalm 27:14).
"It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9).
"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope" (Psalm 130:5).
It's not necessarily the waiting itself that is good, rather what's good is the One for whom we are waiting. When we wait, we wait for the Lord. God is faithful, good, sovereign, and true. All that He does for us is good and right (Romans 8:28-29). He keeps His word and all His promises come to pass (Isaiah 55:11). This is most evident in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled all the promises of God, lived the perfect life we could not live, and died the death we deserved. The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior shows us that God is a covenant keeping, faithful, and merciful God. He is why waiting is good—because He will show up. He will act. He will save. And all that He does will be good and exactly what's needed and for His glory. Therefore, we can take courage and have hope. We can find our strength and joy in Him—even while we wait.
The waiting is good also because of what happens in our heart while we wait. As we rest in who God is, remembering His word and His works, our faith is renewed. We see our dependence and need for Him in new ways. We realize our own insufficiencies, sins, and weaknesses and see the ways we've tried to live apart from Him. In our waiting, we come face to face with the gods we've erected and worshipped instead of the true and living God. Waiting then becomes an opportunity to grow in grace, to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. It becomes of the season of winter before the blossoming of spring.
Dear sisters, we are all waiting. Both in little things and in life-altering things. Both in the temporary and in the eternal. Let us not waste a moment of that time. Instead, let us be strengthened by the Word, focused in prayer, abiding in hope, and encouraging to one another. For all our waiting will end on the day when our Savior returns to make all things new.
As for my own waiting, well, the biopsy was inconclusive. It looks like I'll need surgery. So my waiting continues. As I wait, I hope and rest in the One who is my salvation. "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him" (Psalm 62:5).
If you are in a place of waiting, you might also want to read this prayer I wrote: A Prayer for When You are Waiting on the Lord.
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Since I moved last year, the GPS on my phone has become my constant guide. I follow it wherever it leads. Traffic can pop up unexpectedly at any moment, and since I still don’t know the roads, I let the GPS tell me the way.
The problem is, I use it too much. I don’t pay attention to where I am going. I just blindly follow wherever it tells me to go. As a result, I think it is making me lazy. I haven’t learned the names of the roads. I couldn’t tell you which way is north, south, east, or west. If I lost cell service, I would be stuck. Helpless. Lost.
Blindly following anything is usually not a good idea. We should know where we are and where we are going. There are parallels in this to our spiritual life. How often do we pick up a devotional to read before reading the actual Bible? How often do we let other people tell us what Scripture means before learning it for ourselves? How often do we listen to what sounds good, feels good, seems good, rather than what actually is good and right?
GPS has made me lazy. Not studying God’s word for ourselves makes us spiritually lazy. If we only know Scripture that has been regurgitated and spoon fed to us, we’ll never know how to taste it on our own. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Knowing God’s Word is not only vital for spiritual health, but for spiritual life as well. If we can’t read God’s Word for ourselves and grasp the main idea, how can we identify when someone is twisting the truth? 1 Peter 2 warns about false teachers and prophets who lead people astray by things that sound good to the ear but are in fact false, “just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them…many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (vv. 1-3). It is all too easy to just follow what someone else says without verifying that it is true. The Bereans didn’t take Paul’s teaching at face value. They wanted to see for themselves whether what he said was true. so they compared his teaching to God’s Word (Acts 17:11).
Lastly, I should want and desire to learn my way around so I am not dependent upon my GPS. After all, it is my home, where I live. It should become familiar to me. I should desire to know it like a resident, rather than a visitor. Likewise, I should also value and love God’s Word. I should find it worthy of my time to read and know it. It should be familiar to me, like knowing my way around my hometown.
My kids and I recently read Corrie Ten Boom’s biography. The one thing she wanted with her in the concentration camp was her Bible. She went to great lengths to keep it and hide it. Corrie read it to the women in the camp with her. She and her sister praised God for the lice in their cabin because it kept the German guards from inspecting it and finding their Bible. As I thought about this, I wondered about myself and my own heart. Do I love God’s Word that much? Is it the spiritual food that sustains me? Would I hunger and thirst for it if I did not have it? Or would I get by on a substitute, a fill in, a watered down version of the real thing?
My GPS is helpful for getting around town and avoiding the frustrations of traffic. But I shouldn't be dependent upon it. I should take time to learn my way around for myself. In a similar way, may we know God's Word for ourselves so we can navigate truth and identify falsehood. May we develop a taste for its rich food, rather than always being spoon fed by others. And may we value the truth it contains more than anything else.
I haven't experienced spring in twenty years.
Oh, I've traveled during the months of spring to places where flowers and trees are waking from their slumber. I've seen the daffodils and tulips pop out from the ground, bringing a sudden splash of color to a gray landscape.
But I haven't watched the spring transformation take place in two decades. I haven't witnessed the world change from death to life over a period of weeks.
Now that we've moved away from a tropical climate, I get to experience spring again. We have a large window in our kitchen with a table in front of it. I like to sit there and watch the world outside in our backyard. Since we moved here last spring, I've watched everything come full circle. I watched the green trees in my yard transform into shades of crimson, gold, and rust. I saw the grass turn brown and die. I witnessed the leaves blow off in the wind and flutter to the ground. And before long, I saw hail, ice, and snow batter the same window.
Then, in late January, because it was unseasonably warm, I saw pink buds form on a neighbor's tree. Slowly more trees began to bloom with flowers. Then the daffodils and other flowers came to life. My neighbor's camellia bush burst in color. But the oaks, maples, and other trees still did not have leaves. I looked out the window each morning, wondering when they would appear.
Remarkably, it was the first day of spring. I looked out my kitchen window again and noticed little green specks on the ends of each tree branch. The beginnings of leaves!
Watching the seasons come and go each year for some may be tiresome. And I probably took it for granted growing up in a four season climate. But seeing it again after twenty years was wonderful. I marveled at the process. And not just at the beauty of nature. Not just at the stark contrast between the dark emptiness of winter and the colorful life of spring.
But at the faithful hand of God.
Day in and day out, the sun rises. Every single morning. The earth turns on its axis, rotating exactly as it should. Time moves forward at the same rate each second, minute, and hour. The season for planting comes as does the harvest at its appointed time. The animals make their nests, birth their young, gather for winter, and wait for spring to come again.
Psalm 119 says, "Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. By your appointment they stand this day, for all things are your servants." (vv. 89-91).
God is faithful and true. He does all that He says He will do. He makes everything happen as He has ordained it to. By His very word, He keeps and sustains all things. He is a covenant keeping God who fulfills all that He has decreed.
Just as the seasons unfold throughout the year, just as the sun rises each morning, just as the cherry tree blossoms in spring, we can trust in God's faithfulness. He is as sure as the sunrise each morning, the gravity that holds us to the ground, and the air we breathe. God's faithfulness in the created world around us is a constant reminder of His faithfulness toward His people.
His faithfulness is often joined together in Scripture with His love. "The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Exodus 34:6). The ultimate display of His love and faithfulness is found in Christ, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
This is a good reminder for me as life is often filled with uncertainty. I have things in my life which I fear will never change or come to an end. There are other things which keep me up at night, wondering what will happen and when. The seeming unpredictability of life can keep me on edge, feeling anxious, fretful, and fearful.
But for God's faithfulness.
The beauty and wonder of spring, as amazing as new life and growth is, serves to point me to the One who holds the world in His hands. As He cares for His creation, how much more so does He care for me? As our Savior said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6: 25-26).
God is faithful in the life of a sparrow and in the life of His people. As we trace His faithfulness back through the seasons, year in and year out, we will see the constant pattern of His love and faithfulness on display, not only in creation, but in our very lives as well. Eventually, we'll trace it back to the cross itself where Christ fulfilled every promise and met every requirement and answered every heart's longing and cry. God was faithful to us in Christ and is faithful to us in this very moment and into eternity.
Do you see God's love and faithfulness in your life?