By Morgan Stoecklein
I’ll start by sharing this: I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted. That’s not intended to be a brag, in fact, that’s just an embarrassing truth. The college of my choosing, when I chose it. The man of my dreams at the perfect time. The job I never knew I wanted when I least expected it. And, of course, the perfect cat poop-free home. I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted and my husband is the same way. The few “no’s” he heard growing up, were just future yes’s wrapped up under the Christmas tree. Of course, we are grateful, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.
Another thing about me: I’m a patient person, or so I’ve been told. When it comes to the big things in life, I’m willing to wait, because I know that God is good. That His timing is better than mine. I can wait, I can be patient. I could see other friends getting accepted to colleges. In contentment – I watched friends date, get engaged and be married before I was. I can receive the news that our offer on a home wasn’t accepted, only to begin the home search all over again. And now I can be joyful in pregnancy announcements knowing in God’s perfect timing our family will grow how and when He wants it to.
It’s not the big things I have trouble trusting God for, maybe because so far, he’s delivered, or maybe because I know of his goodness. When it comes to the big things, I truly want them in His timing, not mine. Even when it doesn’t seem right to me, I know it is right, or will all be made right in the end, and from there I find peace, and goodness, and patience.
But sometimes, despite having everything I’ve ever wanted, and trusting God’s perfect timing, I still catch myself waiting for the next thing. These “next things” aren’t the big, profound things for me, in most cases, it’s the small “next things” that I’m most impatient about.
What’s your “next thing?”
We’ve all got a next thing, whether we’d like to admit it or not. Something you want to experience or own or drive or be. And while those desires aren’t wrong, they often can be the things that cultivate impatience in our heart.
Perhaps it’s the nature of the world we live in. Commercials, advertisements, influencers, the dollar aisle at Target. Or those creepy advertisements that somehow show you the product you talked about at lunch earlier that day. This world is capitalizing on our impatience.
Our impatience for the newest nicest shiniest perfect-est things, leads to ungratefulness. The list of little things (or big things) begin to pile up and push our hearts further and further into impatience and ingratitude. Will we ever accomplish the desires of our heart?
This month brings with it a much-anticipated annual work event: Feast Forums. Feast Forums are a chance to laugh, to eat, to cry, to share and to be grateful. One of the ways we share that gratitude is gathered around a meal with coworkers, pulling questions from an envelope and answering them around the table. This year, one of those questions asks “What is part of your life now that you had hoped for in the past?”
I pondered as I heard that question read aloud by a teammate.
What is part of your life now that you had hoped for in the past?
When you’re married you can look back and easily see the beauty of singleness. And owning a home gives a unique perspective on the perks of renting. And having children stirs up a desire for the time when all you wanted was a child. So why can’t we flip this on its head? What if we enjoyed our present circumstances, while patiently working towards the desires of our future? Hoping for something new, but appreciating the now, the now that we wished for in the past.
Google “richest people in human history” and King Solomon will show up on a few of those lists. He’s another person who had everything he ever wanted. He had it all, more than you and I can imagine, and yet this is what he said about it:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
King Solomon didn’t have to wait. He had feasts and women and houses and power and influence and wealth and… he had it all at his fingertips. And after he got everything he could have ever dreamed of, exactly when he wanted it, he said it was all pointless. He also said this:
So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.
At face value, it seems contradictory. On one hand he says it’s all meaningless, and then the other hand he commends enjoying life. But it’s the pursuit of all these things that is meaningless. Instead – let’s enjoy what we have in the present instead of waiting waiting waiting for that “next thing” that might never come.
For me, one of those things that sometimes feels like it might never come, is a break. Do you feel that? And a breather feels so small compared to what some of you might be waiting for: healing, closure, reconciliation, etc. But when it comes to the little things in life, I’m distrusting of God. I’m impatient. My mind is foggy and I can’t see beyond the swirling thoughts and to-do list items.
I have 92 pages to read in 20 minutes!
I’ve got this task and that task and alllll of these tasks to do before tomorrow.
I can’t wait for our three-day weekend.
When will I get a break?
I need to pick up the grocery order and get caught up on laundry and clean the whole house and…
There’s not enough time in the day.
Stick around in our house for a while and you’ll hear these phrases flow from my lips frequently.
How on earth will this all get done?
And somehow it does. And when it doesn’t, it’s fine. Or, it will be fine in the end.
Is it possible to trust God and still feel impatient? Is it possible to know He is good and still desire something else? Is it possible to find gratitude in the waiting?
How can I trust him in the big things, but not in the little things? Maybe for you it sounds more like, “How can I trust God in the little things, but not in the big?”
There’s a proverb that ends by saying “patience brings peace.” And in some moments, I agree, but other times I’m like “What the heck!?” Have you ever had to be patient? Doesn’t feel very peaceful to me. Until it does.
How could it be that a good God makes us wait? I think it boils down to a few things:
I believe we’re meant to be a people filled with hope. To hope in Him, and not the next thing. Not the vacation or the promotion, but in God, and in a future glory where all will be satisfied. Every need met, every tear wiped, where rest and worship are plentiful. Paul says it best in Romans: “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” And although Paul isn’t talking about the acquisition of things or success or status, I think he’s on to something with a unique joy and patience that comes from recognizing that one day our deepest desires and greatest hopes will be fulfilled, in Him.
The beauty, but also the difficulty of Christianity, is the choice to depend on God or self. Like a loving father longs for his child to come to him with their desires and struggles and passions, God wants us to be dependent on Him. And if we had all that we ever wanted apart from Him, then there’s no need for Him. He’ll provide for us, rest, wholeness, blessing, satisfaction, as we depend on Him. And in the middle of depending on Him, He will provide for us a peace that’s unmatched by things and titles and whatever else the world will offer.
God’s timing is better than ours. It’s a fact. Sometimes that stings and sometimes that makes us want to rejoice. We can attribute all good to God, but we can’t attribute all hurt to him. The hurt we can attribute to Him though, we can trust is there because he is working all things together for good. We can know that one day all will be reconciled and well. In the meantime, we are free to trust in God and His ways.
I wish I could tell you of all the ways that God has been faithful in my life. Not always in the way I had hoped or dreamed He’d be faithful, but in the way He has promised to be faithful.
A verse that reminds me of these things, a promise that I can cling to as I hope, depend, and trust in God is Hebrews 10:23 –
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Through confusion and disappointment and anticipation, God has been faithful in my life. I hope, in your waiting, you can see and feel and know God’s faithfulness, and find gratitude.