Where is God in the Waiting?

by Cheong Jiarong

At every day, hour and second, we are waiting for God to reveal His plans for us. When we call out to Him in our prayers and frustrations, we are waiting for a direction from Him. In our struggles, we await His response. Perhaps we may think we are not necessarily waiting for God, but we still turn to Him when nothing seems to be moving forward.

Why does waiting feel so uncomfortable?

Growing up, I was taught that planning in advance and having a path to follow is important in achieving a goal. While this may be true, I realized it had led me to be a person who desired control. As someone who thinks and plans a lot, I grappled with God for control, especially during times of waiting. There was always a constant conflict between God’s timing and mine.

As a student, most of my peers and I worry about our future careers and the directions we would take. While I knew God had a plan for me and my future vocation, I could not handle the uncertainty of not having a clear path set out. “Praying” alone did not feel sufficient and I turned to internships to fill up the void in my heart, in hopes that it would shed light on the unknown future. Rather than trusting in God’s providence, I chose to create my own plan as a comfort to reside in.

Over 6 months of internship applications, I found myself crumbling as days passed and there were no positive responses. “God, why do You plant these thoughts in my head when all these time and effort are going to waste?”. In my weaknesses and inability to move forward, I pleaded to God to answer me and at the very least, reveal to me the reason behind this entire process. As I focused more on my fears, I gradually forgot about God’s peace that transcends all understanding. Yet, it is in these moments that I am called to surrender everything over to Him.

Waiting – a time of self-abandonment

It is so ironic – the more we desire for control, the more we are challenged to offer it up by practicing obedience and self-abandonment. Mary sets the perfect example of complete abandonment to God on Mount Calvary. Despite seeing the pain and suffering that her son had to go through, never once did she question God as she stood at the foot of the Cross. Instead, she relied on her deep trust in God and waited patiently for Him to reveal His plan. Through her faith, Mary is perfectly united with Jesus Christ in His self-emptying (Redemptoris Mater 18).

As we shift our focus to one that is outward-looking, we begin to realise that the issue is not centred around why we are waiting, but rather where is God in the waiting. In my frantic cries to God as I waited for internship replies, I had lost sight of what is first and foremost, my biggest prized possession – my identity in Jesus Christ. Despite praying fervently, I was not asking for a fresh heart and new sight to find God in the process. Rather, I demanded selfish answers that were in line with my own plans. Upon this realization, I gradually learnt to let go and offer up this time of waiting, praying for the grace to be obedient to God’s timing.

“To you, O Lord, a thousand years are like a day” 2 Peter 3:8

What most of us tend to forget is that God’s concept of time is different from ours. To the Almighty God who stands outside of space and time, it is nearly impossible to fit Him in a mere concept that mankind created. What feels like a long time to us may be the right amount of time to God. In one of his articles, Bishop Barron shared a key question – “Why isn’t God acting how I want and when I want?”. He went on to explain that perhaps our lives are part of a complex whole, the fullness of which only God can properly grasp and fittingly order.

Finding meaning in the waiting

In our struggles to reconcile that God’s timing is fundamentally different from ours, we tend to associate waiting with wasting. However, God continues to speak to us in these moments of our lives. As we “go through the motions” and wait for something to happen, it is easy to miss out on the smaller details. Yet, it says “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). At every moment, God is guiding us. He is doing things in His time because He wants it to be done right. As we wait for Him to reveal His dreams for us, we are invited to refocus our gaze on God. In these moments of self-surrender, we begin to see how all things are truly beautiful in His time.

I too began to see this period of waiting as a gift from God, a time for Him to work His purpose in my life. Through the countless interviews over the holidays, I was better able to understand my motivations. This duration also allowed me to spend more time with God in prayer and in community. Despite being thrown off my original plan, I was reassured that I was where God wanted me to be in at that very point of time. Strangely, I began to feel free and find peace in the uncertainty.

“The purpose of unanswered prayer is to force expansion of the heart.” St Augustine

How would we be able to appreciate the gifts and circumstances in our lives if God granted us everything we asked for immediately? The longer we wait, the more our hearts will burn with desire. Perhaps, we are made to wait so that we are ready to receive God’s gift for us – the answers and outcomes – with gratitude and love. This period of waiting has certainly allowed me to be thankful to God for my current internship, and I see every day at work as a gift from God to me. Similarly, it was also through hundreds of years of waiting that the world was able to receive God’s greatest gift – His son Jesus Christ.

Actively waiting

According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.CCC 672

Even as we wait faithfully for God to reveal His plans for us, we continue to be tested in our daily lives. Yet, we are invited to wait actively – that we do not simply sit still and let this time pass us by, that we be on guard! In Mark 13:33-37, Jesus warns that the Master should not find the doorkeeper sleeping when he arrives. To the doorkeeper, sleeping was the equivalence of not focusing on his task at hand. What is our own form of sleeping? What distracts from that staying alert to what God has laid out for us?

In this time of waiting and watching, it is easy to lose ourselves in the process and turn our gazes away from Jesus. Some of us might even use “God’s timing” as an excuse to shun away from unwanted responsibilities and outcomes. However, God invites us to remain grounded in Him through fervent prayer and action. As we wait for Him to unveil His plans for us, having a vision and faith is helpful in keeping us firmly rooted. In face of uncertainty, this vision will enable us to make decisions that are Christ-oriented and persist in times of trials, knowing with full confidence that strength will come to those who wait upon the Lord (Isaiah 40:31). If there truly is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens, who is God calling us to be at this very moment? How is God using this time to help us grow in holiness?

Here and Now

All things take time, some more than others. While it is a constant struggle to wrestle with God for control over time, periods of waiting also teach us to be at peace with the unknown and to trust in the Lord’s timing. Under His care, no amount of time is too much time, it is just the right amount of time. Waiting only becomes time wasted when we remain closed off to the possibilities and wonders that God can do in our lives.

As Christians, we are invited to wait in joyful expectancy – to find hope and consolation in all periods of our lives. We await a God who loves us infinitely, and at the same time, we are awaited by Him J. This is a challenge for all of us to wait with conviction for the second coming of Jesus Christ while being a deliverer of the Good News. Likewise, we are invited to look at other aspects of our lives with hope and persistence, trusting that God has plans for us to prosper.

“If we live in the ‘right now moment’ in God’s presence, we become the kind of people who can live the ‘forever moment’ in God’s presence.” Father Mike Schmitz 

We will never be able to encounter God in the past or the future. The only chance for us to experience God is in the here and now, as we make this time of waiting a time spent living with God.

Today, as I continue to wait for God to reveal His plans for me, I take heart in knowing that I am presently living out the plan He has for me. While the end goal is nowhere in sight, God continues to lead me to mini checkpoints in my life. In this case, can it still be considered a time of waiting when we are fully living in the present with God?

About me: Hello! I am Jiarong and I’m from SMU FIDES ☺️ In my free time lIike to drink tehbing, eat kaya toast and talk to Jesus about my day to day stories.

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