On Sunday, my pastor said, “True power is being content in the midst of our circumstances, not being in control of your circumstances.”
This phrase hit home and gave new meaning to the scripture we know in Philippians 4:12. Paul says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I’d always applied this scripture to mean contentedness in less than ideal circumstances. I remember when I first learned this concept. That we had the power of Christ available to us that makes contentment possible in the middle of a stormy situation.
But what about in the middle of the unknown? Or in the middle of the wait?
While journaling this morning about my feelings on pregnancy, I realized that most of life is waiting for the promise.
It’s what we do in the wait that defines and refines us. It’s how we handle the ups and downs, highs and lows, teases of hope and disappointments that matters the most to God. How we navigate waiting far outweighs reaching the promise in Kingdom economics.
Almost every night for the last four weeks, Kris and I go on a walk and talk about when we think our baby is going to come. We wake up talking about it. We come up with reasons and meanings for time frames. Every time I have a pain out of the ordinary or a new symptom, we Google it to see what it means. We analyze minuscule details hoping it means labor is near. Kris asks the doctor every time if he can predict when our baby will come.
One Sunday after experiencing false labor until 3 AM the night before, I woke up feeling completely drained and depressed. We went to church that night and I asked God to speak to me about her arrival and timing during worship. All He said was, “She is not your daughter to request an arrival date for. I have already decided her birthday and it is for her best interest and for yours. Enjoy this time I’m giving you to wait.”
I surrendered the timing that night. The next day, I felt lighter, thankful and happy. Of course, I thought she was certainly coming that week. She didn’t.
Every morning, I wake up wondering if today is the day. Yesterday morning I woke up feeling a heavy sadness. I sat up against my pillow, put my hands over my face and started crying. I told Kris, “I just want her to be born.”
A couple weeks ago, God showed me the metaphor of labor pains and the unknown time to getting and staying prepared for Jesus’s return. I understood that He was telling me to stay ready for the promise of her arrival.
But this week, I asked Him, “Why the tease? Why the hope and then disappointment? How do I stay content in this emotional roller coaster?”
It reminds me of many other instances over the last couple years where I’ve had high hopes for something and then it didn’t come through. It feels cruel and mean at times. What is the spiritual lesson and reason for all of it? I have to know it’s all for something so it’s not wasted heartache.
- Why does God make us wait?
- How do we stay content in the wait?
If we get things when we want it or when we ask for it or how we envision it, maybe we wouldn’t appreciate the gift as much. Maybe we wouldn’t ready ourselves to handle the task or title as much if we didn’t go through the pain of not having it. Maybe God wants to weed out those who aren’t truly ready for the title so the task doesn’t break them. Maybe He wants me to have such an aching for my daughter that I fill my spare time with reading books on parenting and caring for her before she arrives. Maybe He wants to let enough time go by so I get out of my head about anything I’m tense about.
Here are four ways to stay content when we aren’t in control of our circumstances:
Know that God is working something out in you. Ask Him to reveal what it is. The faster we press in and ask God what he wants to transform within us in a particular season, the faster we can get on board with Him.
Wisdom for future situations. Every time I’ve had an opportunity for something that fell through, it was like I had a dress rehearsal for the show opening night. Every time it revealed something I wanted to do differently. Use opportunities and disappointments as chances to give you valuable knowledge without the cost. You will be happy you had it for the time it really matters.
Character refinement. Go inward and ask yourself hard questions. What are my motives? Why am I worried? Who am I trying to please? Does my view of God change?
Give thanks and praise. Paul tells us not to worry about anything and then He gives us the remedy. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Phil 4:6
Know you can do all things through Christ who empowers you. Pray it in and ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
Question for reflection: How do you practically tap into Christ strengthening you to do things you can’t do in your flesh?