But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
It sounds nice. Lovely even. “They shall run and not be weary.” Yet I *was* weary. Oh so weary. Deep down in the depths of my bone weary. I had been running the race for so long.
I would look up to Heaven and say, “God, please. I’m barely hanging in here. I’m hoping and trusting and waiting for you to do something mighty in my life. I’m trusting you to restore my husband to you, I’m waiting for you to do something amazing in his heart and heal our marriage. How long? How long do I have to run this weary race?”
I prayed and prayed that my husband would give in and buckle into Jesus. I put on my brave face and I held my head up. I tried so hard not to think of The Deep Fear that I was ignoring, pushing to the side, shoving deep and avoiding.
I vividly remember the day, eight years into my journey, that God used a friend to speak to the fear that I wouldn’t name, wouldn’t say aloud, for fear of giving in to it, for fear of giving Satan more ammunition against me. I remember her saying all of a sudden, almost out of context, “Amber, I don’t think God’s going to leave you here forever, I just don’t.”
But that’s exactly what I was afraid would happen.
What if I waited and waited and waited. . . and James never returned to God? Our marriage never improved? He never became a better husband and father? What if that wasn’t how it was supposed to happen, but rather, I was being refined and edified and grown in rather challenging and difficult ways for God’s glory?
I asked myself some very hard questions then. What if, indeed. Would I still love my husband, my God, my life? Could I find joy and peace and comfort in the middle of my difficult journey? My faith never wavered. But my joy. . . well, I had run out of joy and I didn’t know it. I couldn’t name it. All I knew was that I was weary, weak, and faint.
I also vividly remember the day that a church friend and mentor identified that I had run out of joy. Not that kind of “joy” that comes from feeling happy, but that joy that is rooted into your heart and tied down just by knowing Jesus, regardless of the hurricane that rails against the outside.
This joy is not an easy joy to find when you’re “face down in the mud exhausted.” It’s elusive when you don’t have the strength to dig deep and find it. The journey wears and wears like the asphalt against the tire tread until we are worn to nothing, weak, and losing traction.
But this is not the time to give up on the journey. (Sometimes we don’t have that option. Sometimes there is no off ramp, there is no backward, there is only forward on the difficult journey.)
No, when we find we have hit the bottom of the tire tread–it’s time for new tires. We need a pit stop, a refuel, a giant cup of coffee, some new tires, and then it’s back on the road.
You’re thinking, “how in the world am I supposed to ‘find new tires’ when I am so tired of waiting, so exhausted, and I’ve got nothing left?”
I know. Trust me. I know.
Through all the waiting (the 10+ years of waiting) the one thing that never wavered was my faith in God, my conviction that God is good all the time regardless, and the conviction that “God is FOR me so who can be against me?” I didn’t understand why this was my journey, but I had that. And if you’ve got that, you’ve got SOMETHING. And that’s a pretty big something, too.
But there are a few more “somethings” that will help you keep running the difficult race of waiting, regardless of the outcome when the waiting is finally over.
Wise counsel: at least one good friend with wise counsel is so important. They will be a voice of encouragement, a voice of truth, a voice of wisdom, speaking to you in the middle of all the other voices of doubt, fear, worry, and fatigue.
Prayer is never more important than when you need to keep your eyes fixed on God and not on your circumstances. Sometimes you don’t have the words to pray and you just say, “God, I don’t even know what to pray anymore, I’m out of words, but you know what’s going on in my heart and my head Lord and I need you.”
Knowing God’s Word is your best weapon in the face of despair–every time Satan throws a lie, a doubt, a fear, you need to know down into the cells of your bones how much bigger God is than anything in this world. You need to know deep into the fibers of your heart that even when The Worst happens, God will never leave you or forsake you.
Most importantly. . . you have to name The Fear.
You have to acknowledge it, whatever it is, and give it to God to let Him work you through it. Hiding it, stuffing it inside, pretending it isn’t there, is like stuffing bacteria in a dark, damp place where it can grow and flourish. No! Don’t let Satan have that.
Be honest with God. “God, I am so afraid The Worst is going to happen. God, I’m so afraid I won’t know how to live if this or that happens. God, I am so afraid it’s going to hurt too much. Help me.” And then you put that fear back in its place, acknowledging that God is your source and not the fear or the exhaustion or the doubt. God is in charge, not the difficult path you are on. THIS is the key to waiting on the Lord, I think.
We can’t just keep waiting for Him to stop the hard parts and make it better. We wait, trust, and hope in Him from the darkest of dark parts and we say, “YOU are my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, my stronghold, and the horn of my salvation.”
You might not feel strong. You might not feel brave. You might think, “I’m barely hanging on here.” Maybe that’s because on our own, we don’t have that kind of strength. Maybe that’s because it’s God that’s carrying us through it.
Wait on the Lord, ask Him to renew your strength, and He will do it.
God gave me strength and He restored my joy, in the waiting, in the hard place, long before I ever knew whether He would answer my prayer or not.
This is my prayer for the hurting, tired, weary women that will read this. I pray that you find your strength in the Lord, that he will lift you up, that he give you endurance so you don’t grow weary and faint. I pray that even when you don’t feel like you can go on, that the Lord will provide. And I pray that in the middle of it all you will be able to say with conviction, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Amber is a homeschooling mom of three from Texas who married her college sweetheart almost seventeen years ago. She blogs at Classic Housewife. She recently found herself in the new role of Pastor’s Wife after God worked some pretty crazy changes and miracles in her life. Amber knows that God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we would like, and when that happens, life hurts. But she also knows that sometimes God does more than we can ever imagine, and when He does, it is overwhelmingly amazing. God is good, all the time. You can also connect with Amber on her Facebook page and on Instagram!