How To Wait On The Lord When Things Are TOUGH (meaning + verses)

Do you find yourself having to wait on the Lord?Waiting for God is tough…isn’t it? Maybe you’re waiting for God…

  • To bring a spouse
  • To give life a barren womb
  • To save a wandering child
  • To repair a once-treasured, now shattered relationship.

We know God is faithful. We know that he’s good and he loves us. But it’s so excruciatingly hard to wait on the Lord to act. To move. To deliver. To rescue.

In this article, we’re going to look at:

  • What it means to wait on the Lord
  • How we wait for the Lord
  • Bible verses about waiting on God

What Does It Mean To Wait For The Lord?

To wait for the Lord means to wait patiently, in faith, for God to fulfill His promises. Instead of taking things into our own hands, we trust in the goodness of the Lord.

In the Bible, we see many stories and Bible verses about waiting.

Abraham waited for a son, Joseph waited for deliverance, David waited to be made king, Israel waited for a Messiah, and we all wait for the return of the serpent crusher. You might say that the entire narrative of scripture is one of waiting.

How Do We Wait For The Lord?

God’s word has much to say about how we wait on the Lord.

Biblical waiting isn’t passive, like waiting for a train to arrive. It’s an active, aggressive sort of waiting. Biblical waiting is, and this sounds like an oxymoron, full of action. Scriptures calls us to fill our waiting moments with specific, God-glorifying activities.

So how do we wait on God in a way that honors him, fills us with hope, and gives us strength to carry on even when we feel like we’re in the dark?

Here are four ways.

1. Waiting On The Lord In Faith

There are two types of waiting.

The first type is unsure, fearful waiting. We’re not sure if God is going come through, as if he’s some sort of unreliable parent who forgets to pick up his kids at soccer practice.

We hope God delivers us…

…but what if he doesn’t?

What if God leaves us hanging? What if he fails to come through at the most crucial time?

This kind of waiting is displeasing and dishonoring to God. When our waiting is pocked with doubt and unbelief, it smears God’s character, making him look like a deadbeat deity who can’t be trusted.

The second type is waiting on the Lord in strong faith. We’ve run all the numbers, calculated the odds, and can’t figure out how God is going to come through for us. From a human perspective, it looks like it’s lights out for us.

Nevertheless, we trust him because we know his character. We know that he’s infinitely good and loving, and that he will deliver us, even if that deliverance isn’t the kind we expected. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 spells it out clearly:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

When life is in shambles, one of our greatest temptations is to lean on our own understanding. To try to figure everything out. To play out every scenario in our heads and determine which one is most likely.

We become like divine weathermen, trying to map out which way God’s providence will blow, or divine poker players, counting the cards and calculating which will most likely come up next.

But when we wait on the Lord in faith, we make a conscious effort to reject our own understanding.

God knows everything that’s happening in our lives and HE knows exactly what he will do. While I’m waiting on the Lord, God is doing thousands of good things on my behalf.

I love how John Piper puts it:

God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.

Waiting that honors God is characterized by faith in his character.

2. Wait For God Loudly

Have you ever noticed that when David had to wait on God to deliver him, he was very loud about it?

For example, in Psalm 35:17 he says:

How long, O Lord, will you look on?
    Rescue me from their destruction,
    my precious life from the lions!

David waited on God in faith, but he certainly wasn’t quiet, meek, and mild while he was waiting. He was constantly crying out to the Lord for deliverance.

At times, you could even mistake the intensity of his requests for irreverence. He questioned God, pestered him, pleaded with him, and begged him. David was never passive when he had to wait on the Lord. He was loud and aggressive in his waiting.

Why? Because David knew that God was good, faithful, and kind. He knew that God loved to give good gifts, including deliverance, to his children. And so, like any child, he asked for that deliverance repeatedly and loudly.

Waiting that honors God is characterized by persistent pleas for deliverance.

3. Trust In The Lord And Wait Patiently

The Bible calls us to wait patiently for the Lord to deliver us and fulfill His promises.

Psalm 84:11 is a sharp reminder of how God operates:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.

If something is good for us, God will give it to us at the appropriate time. He’s not going to hold back a single blessing from us, and he’s going to give them to us when we’ll get the most goodness from them and he’ll get the most glory.

It was good for David to be king of Israel, but first, he had to hide in the desert caves.

It was good for Abraham to have a son, but first there needed to be no doubt that both him and Sarah were completely barren.

It will be glorious when Christ returns, but first, the full number of people must be saved.

God doesn’t serve up undercooked blessings. When the time is right, he delivers the full course meal.

Until then, we’re called to wait on the Lord patiently.

4. We Wait On God Dependently

The Apostle Paul knew a thing or twenty about waiting. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, he wrote about his thorn in the flesh:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

This thorn in the flesh was no joke. Paul was no pansy. He had been tossed in prison, almost stoned to death, beaten with rods, pursued by people who wanted to kill him, and shipwrecked, all for the sake of the gospel.

And yet, this thorn was so bad that Paul pleaded with God three times to take it away. Whatever the thorn was – blindness, persecution, demonic attack – it was made Paul feel desperate for deliverance.

There’s no indication in scripture that God ever removed the thorn, but what we do know is that while Paul was waiting for deliverance he depended mightily on the sufficient grace of God.

Paul’s thorn forced him to throw his entire weight on God’s sustaining grace and power. That was the only way he could survive.

The same is true for us. The only way we can survive in our waiting is to throw ourselves fully on God. We are completely and totally dependent on him.

If we don’t wait dependently on the Lord, we end up bitter, dried up, and hopeless. The only way to survive the long dark is to cling to Christ, the true light.

We wait for the Lord dependently, relying on his power and not our own.

Bible Verses About Waiting On The Lord

  1. Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.
  2. Isaiah 40:31 – 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.
  3. Psalm 27:13-14 – I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
  4. Micah 7:7 – But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
  5. Lamentations 3:25-26 – The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
  6. Isaiah 64:4 – Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
  7. Psalm 130:5-6 – I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
  8. Isaiah 30:18 – 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!
  9. Lamentations 3:25 – The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
  10. Isaiah 30:18 – Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

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44 thoughts on “How To Wait On The Lord When Things Are TOUGH (meaning + verses)”

  1. Back on April 10th of this year I was arrested, when the day came for a bond reduction
    hearing, my lawyer waived the bond reduction, as she knew that I was unable to afford
    the bond for $75,000, so it was sit in jail, but I asked her to go back to court and ask for
    a bond reduction hearing, in June we got a new hearing and I received a bond that I could
    afford and was released, I went back to court in February and the charge was dismissed.
    The point of the whole matter is this, during the whole 108 days that I was incarcerated I
    prayed Acts 16:25-26, guess what I got my earthquake and not only was I released, in the
    end my charge was dismissed. Is it worth waiting on God? YES!!!!!! In all things wait on
    God to give you the answer that He want, not the answer that you want. Thank you Steven
    for your blogs, they are very informative and to the point and most always just what I’m
    needing to hear at the time. GOD BLESS RON

    Reply
  2. Very instructive and practical way to follow as waiting for the Lord will ultimately reward all who wait on the Lord boldly and loudly, faithfully, patiently, dependently.

    Reply
  3. Thank you, Stephen. My husband and I have gone through a particularly tough year with medical issues in our family and ministry issues. He has used you very powerfully in my life this to grow me and encourage me when I’ve felt like giving up. Thank you for being faithful in continually pointing us back to scripture and to Christ.

    Reply
  4. LOL you sound like my 24 he old son, about star wars at least. I’ve been following a teacher who may suspect causes of insidious depression. I’ve enjoyed your blog, wish you blessings. It looks like what I imagined I wanted to start but am not disciplined enough.

    Reply
  5. I’m reminded to build upon the times God has delivered me. We do not offend God when we cry out to Him and say , ” COME TODAY, rescue us, deliver us, heal us, protect our children, bring them back to You, restore our finances”

    Reply
  6. Really good read Stephan. God has certainly used your struggles to cause you to pen truth for others. Thank you for serving Him.

    Reply
  7. I have been learning to wait on the Lord. My transmission went out at the end of June. I had a small pickup to use locally, but was waiting on God to see if I should fix it or buy something else. Yes, it’s been 9 months, but He began to tell me to fix it. A man from church offered me the money and the fix is on the way. I know God was teaching me to wait. Seems it was harder for my friends than for me. Your message is a great reminder to me that I need and will save. Thank you.

    Reply
  8. I’m in the middle of a waiting period right now. One issue is being dealt with right now and the others are in the future……how much in the future is unknown. The ones in the future are potentially much more difficult and could go in any direction. Ultimately, God will determine the direction and provision.

    This scripture came to mind,
    “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”. Isaiah 30:15 NIV

    Thank you for your post.
    Blessings, Virginia

    Reply
  9. That was so powerful and i need to practices this. May God bless so and continue to encourage us with this type of the word.

    Reply
  10. Great stuff Stephen and particularly for me now cos i’ve been waiting for a long time for God to sort certain things in my life.
    Thing is I think that the key word in all these periods of waiting and trials is surrender. I spent too long saying ” Lord i’m in trouble could you do this and that” , kinda telling him how to fix the problem! Now I just say “Lord help me but in your way. Your will be done” And we therefore have to wait for his perfect timing. Reading your post makes me feel less alone when i’m waiting.
    Oh and by the way. I’m from England and hadn’t heard of Matt Foley. Just watched it on youtube. Thanks for making me laugh as well.

    Reply
  11. I shared your post on my Facebook, I recently ran across some things you have written and they have been divinely timed, love affirmation like this! Loved the encouragement.

    Reply
  12. Stephen, I am so thankful for your words here, and for the comments above (Ronald Wendt, yours in particular). I’ve been married 21 years and came to faith after having the first of our five children, twin boys who are now 19. My atheist husband and I have struggled in our marriage for many years now. Everything exploded last month when he was arrested and jailed for assaulting our 17-year-old daughter and making terroristic threats. A homeschooling family, we now have no income and the future is uncertain. The Lord has gently and patiently told me over and over to wait, and to “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43: 18-19) I am hearing crazy and amazing things from friends who have reached out to my husband, words like “conviction” and “God has orchestrated this” coming from him, and learning that he is attending prayer groups at the prison. Time will tell if these are empty words from a desperate man, or an honest acknowledgement of a sovereign God that will lead to repentance and surrender.
    I have prayed for the Lord to help me to wait well. Your words written here are part of the answer to that prayer, a great help, practical and tangible advice I can choose every day. Thank you so much for writing them.
    By the way, I too suffer from depression. I am praying that the Lord will lift you up, just as He has lifted me, and fill you with peace, joy, and hope as you wait in the circumstances He has allowed for you. God bless you richly, beloved brother.

    Reply
    • Hi Sandy,

      I identify with your experience and the Lord certainly showed His sovereign grace to me and my family. I pray He manifested Himself in that circumstance to you and your family. I pray your husband is a genuine Godly Christian man-husband-father walking with the Lord now; hungering His Word and applying it to His life. May God bless your continued efforts and equip you to keep waiting on Him day-by-day!

      Reply
  13. Stephen,
    How do you do what you are doing? You break through walls of depression (yours, other’s, mine) with the power of your written words of truth. You are actually doing what you know you should be doing. How do you do that? I’m still refusing to do the housework, praying, having people for dinner, being a friend, etc. that I should be doing. I wallow in despair of not doing more for the Lord’s sake. How do you do what you are doing? You have encouraged me to wait, to renew my mind by the washing of the word, and to ACCEPT that truly I am set free from depression by the cup of the new covenant; there is new life in the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I belong to God, it is early in the morning, this is the day I shake off the bands of unworthiness. He calls me by name. Yes, take courage, dear heart. Stephen, you do what you are doing because you are an overcomer, you are God’s, you do it because you are walking in God’s Spirit — accept it, mighty man of God.

    Reply
  14. This is helpful; thank you! My recent experience has affirmed these truths. I wrestle with bipolar disorder and anxiety, and I’ve been at the brink of suicide several times since Christmas. I was praying a lot and pleading for deliverance, but I wasn’t in the Word as much as I should have been. God led me to three scriptures that have helped me tremendously:

    “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) (KJV)

    “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” (Psalm 94:17-19) (ESV)

    “…our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:7-9) (ESV)

    I hope others will find hope in these promises as well.

    Reply
  15. Thank you so much this article is very very blessed it build my faith in Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour! I needed to read this! I am a divorced mother with 3 beautifull daugthers and i am the only breadwinner and trust the Lord for a miracle a breakthrough in my situation i thank the Lord Jesus that He is my Husband and my Provider!!!

    Reply
  16. Wow… the waiting is so hard. How do you know when to do nothing and just wait… and when do you “pray and actively make decisions” trusting the Lord and His promises? …in the context of a business decision? Doing nothing… the waiting has caused my business to be at the brink of complete destruction. Sooo lost.

    Reply
  17. Today we vote, although I voted early. It is hard to wait to see what God is going to bring out of all the fighting in our nation. I have to constantly guard against angry feelings and judgments, to see others who have a different opinion from me as a person whom God also made. He’s really teaching me that HE is in control, even if I can’t see it.

    Reply
  18. Nicely done, Stephen! I appreciate your words and even encouragement. Waiting IS hard, but I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be than in God’s hands!

    Reply
  19. That was absolutely brilliant and spot on!! You described the waiting season perfectly. Thankyou for the tremendous encouragement!!

    Reply

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