Once again, I’m hanging out—rather begrudgingly—in God’s waiting room. Ever been there? It’s the place where answers to prayer seem suspended in the heavens. Where something you thought would take 10 days is still incomplete after 10 years. Where you wonder if hopes you’d labeled as God-given dreams are actually spiritual fantasies caused by too much late-night pizza.
While shuffling around in God’s waiting room, I’m encouraged by biblical saints who spent time there, too. Let me share one with you.
Remember the man in John 5:1-15 who waited for healing at the pool of Bethesda? He’d been there 38 years, hoping for the miracle of functioning legs. Don’t let your heart miss this—for 38 years the man had tried to get into those healing waters. And for 38 years, other people had beaten him to it—all those years of waiting resulted in disappointment. Thirty-eight years is a long time.
Jesus looked at the crippled man right where he was and said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (verse 8, NIV). In other words, “What you want isn’t in that pool. It’s right where you are!”
As I impatiently thrash around, wanting an immediate answer to my current prayer concern, Jesus reminds me: You can often find what you’re seeking right where you are…if you stand up on the inside and take it.
Waiting is no fun. It stretches us, reveals parts of our character we’d like to ignore, and forces us to redefine personal notions of happiness and success. But Lamentations 3:25 promises, “The Lord is good to those who wait for him” (ESV).
And Paul wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9, NIV). In other words, the harvest eventually comes—if we persist with our waiting.
Jesus’ message to the crippled man is for us, too: Stop projecting your own self-centered expectations onto your future. Don’t let your contentment and security hinge on something you glibly call a prayer request. Instead of impatiently complaining, internally pick up your bed and start walking into the future.
Right where you are…is everything you’re really trying to get. The outcome may not be what you’d envisioned. But as Corrie ten Boom said, “You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”
Jeanne puts the “vet” in “veteran youth pastor.” She founded youthleaderscoach.com, and she’s author of Thriving Youth Groups. She lives in Georgia.