The Serenity Prayer: a Road Map for Peace

Peace is scattered like breadcrumbs up the Oregon coast. Stop at any state visitor center, and the receptionists will enthusiastically circle its varied locations on an area map. They do not specifically tell you serenity resides here and there, but you can see it on their faces as they gesture and describe the points of interest along your route. With a sigh and well wishes, they send you off to discover peace for yourselves along the winding highway.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hold a road map to peace in our hands at all times? One that told us the way to travel, the turns to avoid, and the attitudes to keep? As I was thinking about this lately, the first few lines of the Serenity Prayer came to mind:

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

These words of reassurance may ring familiar to your ear as well. Here is the lesser known, second part of the prayer:

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as he did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that he will make all things right
If I surrender to his Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with him forever in the next.
Amen.

The Serenity Prayer, composed in the 1930’s and published in 1951 by Reinhold Niebuhr, exists in several modified versions. Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step program groups use the prayer to bring a sense of peace, acceptance, and purposeful action to their members. It has a long history of helping people find peace by trusting God.

Although the Serenity Prayer is not actually part of the Bible, many Scriptures connect to the prayer and its wisdom:

God grant me the serenity

Right away, the prayer’s first few words highlight a needed reliance on God’s presence in our lives. This prayer acknowledges serenity is not something we can achieve on our own; peace depends on a higher power — God.

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9 NLT

To accept the things I cannot change

There are circumstances, events, and people in our lives we cannot change or control. Accepting this fact, instead of wrestling with things we are unable to fix or understand, frees our minds to focus on productive activities and gain a sense of purpose.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Courage to change the things I can

Over time, unhealthy behaviors and attitudes make us feel defeated. They lead us to believe there is no hope for change, but this prayer encourages us to ask God to give us the courage needed to overcome problems within our control.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NIV

And wisdom to know the difference

Often it is hard to know what we can change and what we cannot. Giving a problem a “time-out” so we can think about it rationally, instead of reacting quickly can grant us wisdom. Sometimes, consulting with others we trust or those with similar experiences helps us too. God’s wisdom comes to us through these things, as well as in Scripture verses, prayer, quiet activities, or stillness.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 NIV

Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time

Although many of us would like to predict, prepare, or even avert the trouble we face tomorrow, God did not give us supernatural powers. Mark Twain once said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” One day at a time, one moment at a time, one blessing at a time is the way God unfolds life for us.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:26-34 NIV

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace

Instead of just handing us peace, God often allows struggles to strengthen faith muscles used to acquire peace. He teaches us to let go of situations we cannot control, to pray, and to trust in him. As we get better at accepting unavoidable hardships and at enduring with faith, we live with more and more of God’s peace by way of the Holy Spirit.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it

Jesus came to earth not to rid us of our sinful nature, but to save us from it. When he chose to die on the cross for us, our sins died with him. The eternal life his death grants us is not something we have to earn. It is a free gift, received by believing in him. Through the Bible and the Holy Spirit, he guides us in living an abundant life now. Following Christ’s way of living in a sinful world leads others to see his likeness in us, and hopefully stirs within them a longing for that as well.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NLT

Trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his Will

Living with faith means learning to trust God’s timing and control. His plans to make things right may not be understood in our lifetimes, but he is always faithful in fulfilling his promises. Surrendering to his Will shows we recognize we will never have all the answers or be able to make everything right on our own.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with him forever in the next

Jesus’ life and teachings provide a model to follow so that we can live a “reasonably happy” life while here. Although we will face trouble, he tells us to remain courageous in anticipation of the perfectly divine, eternal life which awaits us.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT  

The Serenity Prayer unfolds peace like a road map; its words provide direction and point out areas for rest along the way. It is a good map to keep in our back pockets, in case we get lost. We can refer to it when life sends us on a detour or when the weather looks bad. And, the map maker himself is only a prayer call away. Press on in faith, my friends!

Related Posts:

Seeking Three Kinds of Peace 

While We Wait on God

The Worry Fight

The Astounding Beauty of God’s Grace

 

Photographing the magnitude and astounding beauty of Big Sur, California is no small task. It is not a “one picture does it justice” kind of place. Even if you take a hundred photographs, you still feel like you need to get one more — from a different angle, height, distance, or light. Because every time you look, it feels new. A desire to capture and immortalize the awe you feel simply floods your heart.

Comprehending God’s grace brings many of the same overwhelming feelings. As we mature in faith, God deepens our knowledge of Christ and his sacrifice. Using this knowledge, he then increasingly brings more and more details of his grace (his favor) into focus for us (2 Peter 1:2).

Awestruck, our hearts clamor for new and bigger pictures of his grace. Yet, like Big Sur, the more pictures of grace we capture, the more our hearts will long to see. Some pictures of God’s grace: 

Grace Saves

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9 NIV

Grace delivers the gift of eternal life for those who are willing to receive it through faith in Christ. Jesus wrote the invitation for our salvation when he chose to die for our sins on the cross (John 3:16). We cannot earn nor do we deserve this offer; it is free and unmerited. God expects our questions and doubts, and he never wavers in his pursuit of us.

Through prayer and God’s Word, we develop a relationship with Jesus and learn how meaningful his sacrifice is. Our faith in his promise of salvation grows. Pictures of grace bring understanding that is bittersweet.

Grace Forgives

Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17 NIV

The sacrifice Christ made secured forgiveness for our sins with God. Once we confess and turn away from sin, Scripture tells us God no longer remembers it. Stories in the Bible, like Paul’s (1 Timothy 1:12-17), teach us about God’s patience. He waits for us to recognize and change what we need to because he wants to save every last one of us (2 Peter 3:15).

No matter how much shame we feel, he accepts us unconditionally as we are. He is eager to guide us in new directions for his good purposes here on earth, often using our own brokenness to spread his message of hope to others.

The transparency of our own sin also leads us to forgive others — to give them what God has so generously given to us. Asking God for forgiveness offers us an honest and humbling, yet loving look at ourselves. Pictures of grace can be so amazing.

Grace Mends

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

No matter what suffering we face in life, God is aware and ready for it. He plans to lead us through it, ultimately using it for our good. Because he knows us better than we even know ourselves, he sees places where we need mending.

He may use our trouble to help us grow, to reach others who need hope, or even to protect us from something else. Although we are not promised to see the end results of his work while here on earth, we can be certain his plans are far greater than any we could imagine.

Persevering through trials with God, strengthens our character and lays a reliable foundation of hope for now and the future (Romans 5:3-4). Resting in the knowledge that God is always working for our good helps us endure hard times, seek his help, and remain confident in hope. More often than not, pictures of grace surprise us.

Grace Abounds

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV

In this promise, Jesus proclaims his believers can enjoy an abundant life. The abundant life he offers is eternal, but it begins while here on earth through the Holy Spirit. Dwelling within us, the Holy Spirit brings forgiveness, guidance, and love. He teaches us about worship, and he reminds us everything we have comes from God.

Taking time to be still, mindful, and grateful provides opportunities to listen and understand God better in the here and now. As we take note of his blessings, our hearts overflow with peace and joy. Looking at life in a new light, pictures of grace delight us.

Grace Loves

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 NLT 

Everyone is blessed with the same infinite amount of God’s grace. However, we appreciate it at different levels as our faith matures. Learning more about Christ’s love for us causes our love for him to grow, which in turn makes it easier to perceive the goodness of grace.

Loving him deep within our hearts motivates us to be more like him. We strive to love others in the ways we know he loves us. Ultimately, as we grow in grace we realize we have an opportunity to be part of God’s picture of grace to others. Pictures of grace are never ending and are meant for sharing.

Grace Reveals

Patiently, God waits to show us the jaw-dropping landscape of his grace. He revels in our joy as we catch that first glimpse of it along life’s winding road. When we make the effort to stop and take it in, especially on blustery days, it astounds us.

Through God’s grace, we see pictures of salvation, forgiveness, mending, abundance, and love. Our hearts beat a little faster as we look and move to capture as many pictures as we have time for. We cannot seem to get enough.

One day, someone will tap us on the shoulder to share an incredible image of grace. In his picture, he will point to something he wants us to see…something possibly overlooked in all our striving. Humbly, we realize it is us. You see, for God, the best pictures of his grace — the ones he longs to show us — will always include us.

 

A version of this post first appeared on City on a Hill Studio’s website, where I was honored to serve as a guest blogger. Check out their site for inspiring books, videos, movies, blogs, and more. CityonaHillStudio.com

Receive a free handout: 20 Scriptures to Tuck Away for Difficult Days when you subscribe here to A Scriptured Life.

 

 

 

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Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

Sometimes, it is hard to see anything when we are walking in the rain. We keep our heads down and we try to move ahead. With our minds set on drier destinations, counting blessings tends to be an afterthought.

Likewise, giving thanks during the metaphorical storms of life does not come naturally. Blessings are harder to see when we are awash in emotion. However, if we mindfully seek God’s gifts while proceeding through difficult circumstances, we can always find them.

A Story of Giving Thanks…

Granted, crazier things have happened. But, I am truly surprised when the receptionist at the hospital’s surgery and procedure center recognizes me. With her artsy flair of untamed hair and funky glasses, one understands why she is not easily forgotten. But me, noticeably lacking in pieces of flair — I am more apt to slide by unnoticed.

“Hmm, hey, you’ve been here before, haven’t you?” she asks. “You look familiar. Nice to see you.”

I nod. “Yes, it’s been several years,” I say. “I can’t believe you remember me.”

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV 

Thanks for Kindness

Three years ago, life was moving too quickly, transitions were happening, and health concerns of family and friends seemed overwhelming. I sat in the waiting room behind this same receptionist, trying to keep worry from eating up my insides. Bustling around her desk, the receptionist greeted incoming patients and their loved ones with a reassuring presence and calm step-by-step instructions. I noticed a big button pinned on her shirt which the other receptionists did not have. It read, “I GIVE FREE HUGS.”

On that day, I, someone who rarely initiates any public displays of affection, surprised myself by boldly accepting her hugging offer. Give thanks in all circumstances — thank God for people who throw kindness around like confetti and who lift the spirits of everyone they meet.

Thanks for Humor

So, here I am again in the same waiting room. The circumstances are different, but still concerning. I buy a cup of tea at the café and find a chair by the long set of windows. Scanning the waiting room, I take in the large maze of walls, windows, and partitions. Each division or pod creates a somewhat private waiting space for family and friends.

A family of ten trails in and sets up camp in a pod close by. It is early and the adults are disheveled, in need of coffee. Their children twist around impatiently on the floor at their feet. After awhile, I notice a boy, about four years old, pushing a toy truck up a chair leg and across the laps of his adult companions.

Exasperated he says, “Do we REALLY have to stay here all day?!”

His mother answers, “Yes, your dad is having surgery today. We have to be here.”

He grumbles, “Man! Now my whole day is ruined.”

I smile and stifle the laughter rising up. I love the unfiltered honesty of children. Give thanks in all circumstances — thank God for the humor that turns a serious moment upside down and shakes it all around.  

Thanks for Thoughts and Insights

Gazing out the window, I take a sip from my cup. Through the windows of a building across the street, I watch a preschool lesson in action. A teacher is speaking and the children are eagerly listening — as little ones will. They reach out excitedly to each other, hold hands, and quickly form a circle anticipating what is to come. Then, suddenly, whoosh! Together, their tiny hands toss a multi-colored parachute up high in the air. It balloons up, then gently floats down to rest. They smile and jump about, ready to do it again and again.

My mind flashes back to playing this parachute game when I was young. Never athletically inclined, this physical education activity was one I actually looked forward to. As I watch the parachute across the street rise and fall, I think about the ups and downs of life. Hard times come and go. We’re in the thick of trouble, and then we’re not.

Like a parachute jump from an airplane, our free fall in a difficult situation can feel like it goes on forever. We pray God would hurry up and deploy the parachute already! But, so often we must wait in our uncomfortableness. God knows the landscape ahead better than we do and he has a plan. As our instructor, he encourages us to rely on his wisdom, care, and grace. Give thanks in all circumstances — thank God for the way he comforts and speaks to us when we get quiet and listen.  

God’s Will

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

The second part of this Scripture, regarding God’s will, can be confusing. Does God want us to be thankful for the bad things that happen to us? Further study clarified Paul the Apostle’s meaning. He says to give thanks in all circumstances. Note this is different than saying give thanks for all circumstances. Awful and evil things in this world are not from God — we do not need to be thankful for them. Our thankfulness is for his presence with us in trouble and for the good he brings forth from it. God’s will for us is to use gratitude — in all circumstances — to find peace and rest regardless of changing events and emotions. 

A Formula for THANKS

Whatever our day brings, we can look for traces of God’s presence with us and give thanks for his care. Some blessings or gifts are easily identified like food, shelter, family, activities, income, etc. Others, like the ones below, are blessings that come from within.

T = Thoughts – God quietly speaks to us in our thoughts through the Holy Spirit. Referencing Scripture can help us discern his voice from other distractions and feelings.

H = Humor – God lightens our load through the gift of laughter. He puts people and events in our path which make us smile.

A = Acceptance – God points out things we have been reluctant to accept. He shows us where we are stuck, what we need to do, and who we need to forgive.

N = Nature – God calms our emotions with the many beautiful gifts of his creation (e.g. rainbows, sunrises, wildlife).

K = Kindness – God cares for us through the kindness of others.

S = Shine Opportunities – God provides us opportunities to shine his light by being a blessing to others.

Remaining mindful of the many gifts God provides may not change a difficult situation, but it does change our outlook. Gratitude helps us gain confidence that God is with us, and he is working all things together for our good. As our faith in him grows, so does our hope. And, hope in restoration from our God, a God who loves us, is always firm and secure. Press on in faith, my friends!

Puddles
by Jamie Trunnel

There’s bound to be puddles in your path.
Showing up as people, places, and things like that.

Some race through
Causing quite a splash.
Solving problems fast;
Missing meaning as they dash.

Others wade in,
Then get stuck.
Wallowing in trial;
Living in muck.

The lucky proceed
Like playing chess.
Seeing beauty ripple
From trouble’s mess.

Find this poem and many others in my new book Simple Wishes . The poems and color photos in Simple Wishes were inspired by the easily overlooked blessings in life. It makes a great gift for someone you are thankful for. All profits are donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with gratitude for the work they do.

Other Related Posts:

Three Ways Gratitude Boosts Faith

Small Surprises from God

Walking at a Dog-determined Pace

This is the Day the Lord has Made

Where Joy Flows From

 

 

Designed for Prayer: the pause of a praying mantis

 

The first time I found him he was lying upside down on my front porch. His long, spindly legs bicycled through the open air in a concerted effort to turn over.

“Hello, my friend, what a predicament you are in,” I said to him. “Let’s see if together we can make things better.” Grasping him gently around the middle, I turned him right side up and carried him off the porch. I set him carefully back down on the earth. He did not scurry away. Cocking his triangular head to the side and looking at me with bulging eyes, he paused in our stillness as if to say, “thank you and God bless.”

Several days later, he climbed back on the porch, remaining upright this time. My husband and I crouched low for a good look. Upon hearing our voices, he boldly turned and studied us while holding his forearms in a prayerful pose.

Long a symbol of peace, contemplation, and prayer, the word “mantis” in Greek literally means prophet or seer. Although it appears the praying mantis prays, in reality the pose helps him capture prey. Equipped with sharp spikes, his specialized front legs quickly extend and squeeze flies, bees, lizards, frogs, and even birds to eat. The prayers of the praying mantis are actually part of an intricately designed plan for their survival.

In thinking about how God designed the praying mantis to pray, it occurred to me that he designed us in a similar way. Not with spiky arms and an odd diet, of course, but with an appetite for prayer. Like the praying mantis, our prayers feed us. They nourish us with faith, hope, and love. Spiritually, optimal human functioning comes through a relationship with God. Consider this quote from C.S. Lewis:

God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. -C.S. Lewis

Many of us would agree prayer has benefits, but few pause long enough to reap them. My new friend, the praying mantis, held a prayerful pose for what seemed like an eternity to me this week. In fact, he was still praying as I walked away. What if we paused, prayed, and waited with such intense patience? What nourishment might our spirits gain?

How Prayer Feeds our Spirits:

Prayer opens the door to a relationship with God.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Faith assures us we can be confident in God’s plans for us even when we feel uncertain of what lies ahead. Because we have hope in those plans, our hearts urge us to reach out to him in prayer. Like any other relationship, a close relationship with God requires consistent time and effort. As we draw closer to God through prayer, the meanings and instructions his promises speak to us become clearer.   

Prayer keeps us humble and reminds us who is in control.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 NIV

Humility helps us remember we cannot control everything in our lives. While we may boldly ask for what we want, we remember God decides what is best. We may not like what is happening now, but we cannot predict the ways God may use it to impact our life or the lives of others in the future. Even as we pray to exit a difficult season, God gives us strength and equips us to endure through it. He sends people and circumstances which help us. He lights our path and can show us how to find purpose in our pain. Humbly yielding to God’s will opens windows of wisdom in our hearts and minds.   

Prayer puts plans in motion.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20 NIV

In this Scripture, Jesus encourages deeper faith in the disciples who doubt their given authority to heal. Jesus tells them even the tiniest amount of faith in tandem with God’s power can move mountains. As believers trusting in God’s abilities, we too, can move mountains with prayers.

God certainly can get things done without us, but in some situations he calls for prayer. He chooses to use our prayers; he makes them a part of the plan to accomplish his will. Prayer can put God’s plans in motion. He uses prayer to help us believe in his power instead of merely our own abilities. 

 

Prayer battles darkness.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corninthians 10:4 NIV

As believers we have an arsenal of spiritual weapons at the ready. God arms us with weapons like his Word, the Holy Spirit, faith, hope, love, and prayer. With these, we are equipped well beyond the confines of mere physical strength and human intelligence. Prayers help battle the world’s darkness by calling upon God’s power to work within us — shining light on our spiritual gifts and inspiring us to serve him and others. The loving actions which flow from our prayers in dark times strengthen the bonds of faith between believers and ignite faith in those who lack it.   

Prayer grants peace.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. Psalm 107:28-29 NIV

Once we have done what we can in our trouble, prayers allow us to rest and trust the work of God’s hands. Because we know God, we know he will help us. He will help us think through our problems and alert us when we need to move. He will prod us to seek forgiveness, fill us with faith, and restore what is broken in our lives. As we seek him in our struggles, we learn about his lovingkindness and mature in our faith. Prayer grants peace by asking God to take the lead in situations we cannot change.  

 

 

Our prayers do not have to be fancy, or long, or even full of requests. Sometimes prayers simply tell God how much we love and appreciate him. When harder days come and life unexpectedly flips us upside down, fear will not overcome us. Because we know we have a trusted friend who rescues us time and time again. He gently turns us right side up and places our feet back down on solid ground. As creatures designed to pray, our faith encourages us to pause and to thank him. Press on in faith, my friends!

 

 

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2 NLT

 

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Serenity Prayer
by Reinhold Neibuhr

 

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.


 

While We Wait on God…

Each fall, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds linger at my feeder a few weeks longer than I expect them to. Their visits to and from my deck occur at an increasingly frenetic pace as September rolls along. If two or more of these little winged spitfires cross paths, they chatter and chase each other waging an all out territorial nectar war. As much as I enjoy watching them, each year as fall progresses, I wonder why they wait to leave. Being a planner myself, I long to encourage them to beat the migration rush.

I always assumed hummingbirds migrated because of the dropping fall temperatures. But, what I learned recently through a little research surprised me. Hummingbirds do need warmer temperatures to survive, but it is actually fall’s decreasing daylight hours which trigger a hormonal change and cause them to migrate.

While waiting for this internal alarm clock, they take care of important business– they eat. In order to survive the non-stop 500 mile flight across the Gulf of Mexico, which most hummingbirds will make every winter, they need to work on doubling their body weight before reaching the south. The sought after nectar at my feeder provides their tiny bodies with a high potency fuel. This fuel allows them to catch flies and other insects which are the staple of their diet. Yes, my sweet hummingbirds are carnivores! Who knew?!

So, it seems my concerns over the hummingbirds missing their window of migration opportunity and freezing are unnecessary. Instinctively, they know what they need to do without any help from me. There is no element of human logic, hurry, or worry in their timeline — only patient waiting and off they go.

I wish I could wait like that, don’t you? Waiting is challenging for humans, even in instances where benefits are certain — like lines for ice cream. When we are in the midst of a trial the benefits of waiting are especially hard to see. Waiting on God is not easy. We want to know what, when, why, and how things are going to happen. We want to plan, influence, and control events because all that waiting, well, it can make us feel like we are NOT doing anything.

But, what we need to remember is this: waiting on God IS doing something, and it does bring benefits. Like the hummingbird instinctively preparing for a strenuous trip, we too, can actively wait on God to direct our journey. While waiting we can:

Use God’s Word

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 NIV

When we feel stuck in a painful season of life, it is hard to find time, energy, and motivation to study the Bible. Consistently showing up on God’s doorstep, however, demonstrates our eagerness to learn. If we keep searching his promises for wisdom and reassurance, he steers us in the right direction. By using Scripture verses in our prayers, we honor God, and we pray the way Jesus did. Changes in our situation may be gradual, but they will be powerful when we allow the Bible to work within us. Reminding us of what is good and true, God’s Word shapes our character, decisions, and outlook while we wait.

Trust in God’s Character and Timing

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8 NIV

On days when we are weary of waiting on the Lord, our faith can grow weak, and we may think God is never going to show up. But, the Bible repeatedly teaches us about three important attributes of God. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

Omnipotent means God is all-powerful. He is in control and can handle any problem we face.

Omniscient means God is all-knowing. He knows every detail of our lives — from our birth to our death, who we will meet, and every situation we will face. Nothing surprises him or leaves him unsure of how to work things for our good.

Omnipresent means he is all-present or everywhere at the same time. God is always with us even when we feel alone.

If life is going well, we have a tendency to think it is all our doing. In hard times, we wonder if God knows what he is doing. Suffering, although frustrating and painful, encourages us to search for God and trust him to do things beyond ourselves. Waiting in the hardship of the unknown leads us to the comfort of what we do know: we belong to a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and with us at all times.

Pray Boldly

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 NIV

In this Scripture, the Apostle John tells us with certainty that prayer works, and he knows how it works. Notice he says, “if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” Prayer is not a to-do list for God to magically and immediately grant our requests. Rather, it is a means of receiving what is the will of God — answers which meet his good purposes and timing.

As we pray whatever is on our hearts, we must also consider God’s will. We humble ourselves as Jesus did saying, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” Praying for discernment, we think about how God wants to reach us or use us in this trial. His thoughts and ways are sometimes beyond our comprehension in the here and now, so we also ask for his peace to comfort us. Waiting encourages us to look for God’s instruction and pray with a bold confidence that he will do what is best. 

Love and Serve Others

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Every trial we endure teaches us about suffering and comfort. Through our trials we gain valuable understanding about how to love and serve others. For example, we might be able to share knowledge about a medical procedure, empathize with feelings, cook someone dinner, or meet them for a walk. Waiting for God presents us with valuable opportunities to show others the love of Christ and to possibly find purpose in our pain. 

Harvest Gratitude

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Giving thanks while we are hurting can seem like an impossible task. While we do not feel grateful for our circumstance, we can be thankful for God’s presence in it — for all the ways he comforts us.

We can be grateful simply for the time God gives us to wait. In the waiting, we can learn his Word, place our trust in him, pray boldly, and love others. In the waiting, our character grows in patience and persistence. And in the waiting, we awaken to the hope we have in him for our future. Remembering the things we are grateful for, even in difficult circumstances, keeps us focused on God’s everlasting love for us.

This morning, a hummingbird perched on the bird swing I have attached to my window. He sat there, content, for the longest time. I smiled and paused in the moment. I watched him as he watched me.

“We wait,” I said to him. God is near. God is good. “We wait.”

Press on in faith, my friends!

 

Other Related Posts:

Where is God when Life Hurts?

Learning to Pray

Trusting God Along the Eagle Trail

The Worry Fight

Inspiring Resources:

Hummingbirds.net