I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately:
- Waiting for the next doctor’s appointment.
- Waiting on pathology results.
- Waiting to see if new treatments will work.
Most days I’m OK with the waiting. But occasionally a wave of “what-ifs” makes me wobble and topple into a teary heap.
Even when we’re trying our best to trust in God, some days we will still feel like we’re buckling under the strain of those uncomfortable uncertainties surrounding our future.
Here are some things to try when you’re buckling under the pressure.
1. Cry out to God.
Tell him how you’re feeling. If you don’t have any words, Christian worship music might help. You can just listen and cry along with it. Tears are a completely acceptable prayer in times of distress. (Rom 8:26)
If you find praying hard, try writing a letter to God in a journal. Might sound a bit odd, but it’s something I’ve found tremendously helpful at certain stages of my Christian journey.
2. Talk with someone you trust.
Talking to a close friend or family member can make a huge difference. If they’re out of their depth (they might be experiencing their own grief, or struggling to stay afloat with their own problems) book an appointment with a counsellor/psychologist or your pastor.
3. Ask someone to pray with you.
I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to pray alone when I’m overwhelmed. My feelings can be so strong that I don’t dare to face them alone! Having someone pray with me is just what I need at times like this.
If you’re feeling particularly isolated, and can’t think of anyone to pray with, Rest Ministries has a wonderfully supportive online support group for Christians, called the Sunroom. The 15:5 Tribe is another good place to get spiritual and emotional support.
4. Avoid obsessive trawling of the Internet for answers.
We all do it! When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s best to put some limits in place when it comes to Google searches. Researching is best done when you’re feeling calm and in your right mind.
Inner strength, or trust in God?
In the Bible, we’re not asked to be strong in ourselves. Instead, we’re encouraged to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power”. (Eph 6:10)
As God’s dearly loved children, we’re urged to trust in him with all our hearts; to pour out our deepest fears and anxieties to him – because he cares. (Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 62:8, 1 Peter 5:7, Phil 4:6)
The model Christian is not self-sufficient and unruffled by the troubles of this life. No! It’s someone who acknowledges his/her need for help, recognises God’s strength, and looks to him for sustenance.
God wants us – yes, actually wants us! – to come to him like small children: needy, dependent, and full of trust. (Mark 10:15, Matt 11:28-29, 2 Cor 12:9)
Paradoxically, “mature” Christians know they are dependent on God like small children. “Strong” Christians know they are not-strong-enough.
Wisdom from Isaiah 30
I love these verses from the book of Isaiah:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” but you would have none of it…
The passage is about Israel taking matters into their own hands, rather than trusting in the proven faithfulness of their great God. (Sound familiar? When will we EVER learn?!)
Here’s how the passage ends:
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:15, 18)
Some questions to ask yourself
When medical uncertainties taunt us, let’s ask ourselves:
Am I wanting my doctors to rescue me? Am I putting all of my hope in them? If so, let’s pray that our gaze would turn towards Jesus, our true Rescuer.
Are my pending medical test results the most important thing in my life right now? Am I letting my sense of peace depend on something that’s uncertain? If so, let’s pray that we’ll learn to depend on Jesus, our Rock.
Am I looking inward for strength? If so, let’s pray that we’ll learn to look outward towards Jesus instead.
A way forward
“In repentance and rest is your salvation…”
Let’s repent of our stubborn self-sufficiency, which is ultimately a rejection of God’s outstretched hand. Let’s turn our eyes up towards our faithful God, rather than looking inward for strength (and wondering why we are left feeling like a crumpled, dried up leaf).
“… in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Let’s seize this opportunity God is giving us today: to learn what resting in him feels like. To rest in Jesus – the one who will never change; the one who will never stop loving us; the one who has promised to finish the good work he began in us.
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.”
As we’re waiting for our next test result, doctors appointment, or treatment verdict… Let’s shift our focus towards God. Let’s entrust our uncertain futures to our compassionate God – the one who never changes.
“Blessed are all who wait for him!”
Father, why is it so hard to trust you?! We know you love us; we believe you’re strong enough to help us. Yet we constantly drift towards self-reliance. Sorry for not trusting in you… But we know that you’re a God of compassion, who’s quick to forgive and slow to anger. Thank you for Jesus’ death on the cross, where he bore the punishment our sins deserve. Thank you for the forgiveness that is now ours, through him.
We really want to grow in our faith, Father. Please help us to learn, through this time of waiting, what it means to rest in you, to trust in you with all our hearts. With you, all things are possible! Thank you for giving us a hope and a future. In Jesus name, Amen.
This song is from the album, You Shine, by Brian Doerksen. A perfect album to put on repeat when feeling anxious about the future!
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This piece was quite timely. This is always the case with God. I had an appointment with my oncologist a month ago. He told me what I already knew, my cancer markers are a bit high. He also told me that conventional wisdom tells him that I should start a round of chemotherapy; however, he suggested we wait a couple of months. The wait is to see if the numbers (cancer markers) are down by then.
After being in remission for sixteen years, waiting for any tests, or anything relative to my Multiple Myeloma is far less than a test of wills. It’s a period of calm embolden by my faith in God. This piece supports that state of spiritual calm. Thanks.
Hosea, it must have been a real shock to receive those test results after 16 years in remission… I’m glad that your faith in God is helping you to maintain a sense of spiritual calm. We sure need it at times like this!
Sorry I hadn’t responded to this. I guess I’m not monitoring the comments coming in very well. Ruth, I’m not one of those giants of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11, but it really wasn’t a shock. I’ve always known there was a real possibility that the Myeloma would return. After all, there’s no cure for this type of cancer. There are those who’ve experienced remission a lot longer than I, but I’ll get there, if it’s God’s will.