Over the course of our walk with Christ, there will be times when the Lord will require us to have patience and wait on His leading. As we discussed in Grow your faith while waiting for God, waiting is not always easy for us to do. Yet waiting, the act of setting aside our own self-interests and trusting whole-heartedly in the Lord, helps us grow and mature in our faith.
Waiting, though challenging, is meant to encourage and strengthen us! As Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
But there are three things that we tend to do that make the act of waiting worse than it needs to be. To borrow terminology from modern psychology, there three ways that we “self-sabotage”: worrying, coveting, and running ahead of God. Let us take a look at these three behaviors and how they sabotage our relationship with the Lord and others.
Worry has a way of getting inside our minds and taking root very deeply. Some individuals, for whatever reason, are more predisposed to anxiety than others, and anxiety often has more than just psychological effects. Some people experience physical pain associated with high anxiety. Worry, anxiety, is not healthy physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It causes us to chronically view life from a negative perspective, overlooking all the blessings by focusing in on only the bad things.
If left unchecked, this anxiety can damage our relationship with the Lord as well as our relationships with others. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi with these encouraging words: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Now everyone experiences worry or anxiety to some degree and it is usually caused by circumstances or life experiences. However, if you find yourself suffering from excessive anxiety more days than not and this anxiety is preventing you from doing the simplest of daily activities, you may want to have yourself tested for General Anxiety Disorder.
The second, covetousness, is similar to worry. Covetousness often begins with a harmless, passing thought, perhaps along the lines of: “I wish I had a good job like that.” or “Why not me?” It settles into our hearts and minds and pumps poison into our lives. Without realizing it, we grow dissatisfied with what the Lord has done for us and greedily long for the blessings the Lord has bestowed on others.
James 1:14-15 gives us insight into how this transformation occurs in the heart and mind. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” And Jesus warns us to “take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
We can protect ourselves from covetousness by turning our focus away from material wealth towards heavenly things. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
Instead of lamenting what we do not have, let us praise the Lord for all that we do have! Most importantly, the love of God, what He has done for us, and for the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)
Running ahead of God
Like worry, this discontent will weaken our faith and trust in the Lord. The third way we tend to worsen our situation is by running ahead of the Lord. After waiting a certain amount of time, our impatience leads us to doubt the Lord or come to the faulty conclusion that the Lord must be waiting for us to act first. It is just like that saying, which is often erroneously attributed to the Bible but actually originated from ancient Greece, “God helps those who help themselves.”
We use human logic and reasoning to talk ourselves into doing something that is not guided by the Holy Spirit. Many times the end result only complicates the situation. For example, after waiting for years and years with no apparent answer from the Lord, Abraham and Sarah tried to bring about the Lord’s promise of a child themselves: Abraham took Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar as a second wife. The history of God’s people was complicated by the misunderstandings and hatred that sprung up between the descendants of the son of promise, Isaac, and the son of man’s way, Ishmael.We talk ourselves into doing something without the Holy Spirit and make the situation worse. Click To Tweet
Proverbs 14:12 warns: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” So what do we do? Proverbs 3:5 tells us clearly to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding”.
At one time or another, we all struggle to some degree with the tendencies of anxiety, discontent, or trying to do everything yourself. Next time you notice you are beginning to worry or covet what is someone else’s or run ahead of the Lord, take a moment to earnestly pray and lay that tendency at the feet of Jesus. Ask Him to take away that temptation and fill your heart and mind with peace.