I’ve been waiting for prayers to be answered for years now, and I haven’t seen many things happen. I’ve been dreaming big with God and setting my hopes up high, and it hurts because I’m holding onto promises unfulfilled— some of which don’t even seem possible. But I’m going to tell you everything I’ve learned and all that I know at this point for what to do in the waiting period.

In seasons of waiting, I try to be intentional about keeping my heart soft because to love is to be vulnerable and I want to love God well. To achieve this vulnerability, I ask God to help me understand or to help me be un-offended regularly. Here’s why:

If I understand what God is doing, then I feel like I have a grip on the situation. I can relax. I can be in the know. I can see the purpose behind the pain.

If I am un-offended by what God is doing, then I can trust him. I can let Him into my anger. I can give Him my deepest fears. I can guard my heart from bitterness.

I’m not going to understand God’s vision for my life or His intentional leadership apart from Him. I’m going to be frustrated when I watch my dreams crash into the ground if I’m not leaning into my relationship with Him. I need God to do a work in my heart to keep me tender when I’m tempted to shut down in offense. When you’re overwhelmed in waiting, ask God to give you the grace to understand or be un-offended.

When in doubt, give thanks. Thankfulness is one of the greatest weapons I have as I wait because some days I have no strength to give anything else. Gratitude shifts our perspective and forces us to focus on the faithfulness of God. It is wise for me to remember that I deserve hell, I received eternal life, and God has brought me to today. I was riding in the car with my mom the other day when she said, “Tell me three green things you see outside.” So I listed off the roof of a nearby building, the grass on the side of the road, and a small gathering of bushes in the distance. Then she asked me to close my eyes and list off three yellow things I saw. I knew there was a yellow line in the road because we were on a two lane road but I couldn’t remember if anything else around was yellow. When I opened my eyes, I saw yellow signs, yellow flowers, a yellow building. She told me she was learning that when we focus on the negative, we only see the negative and it’s hard to remember the positive just like it was hard for me to remember the yellow things around because I was only looking at the green. When you can’t see the positive, think of what you know that is good and focus on that. Don’t forget His goodness for you; give thanks in all things.

Okay, read this whole paragraph. Get yourself in the Word of God. I’m not kidding. Pick a time right now for today that you will read the Bible. Don’t do it because you have to but because you get to. I often hear that it’s boring or it’s hard to understand but we have the Holy Spirit inside of us who reveals the deep things of God so give me a better excuse. The Bible is funny and it’s moving and it’s wisdom. I heard a man earlier this year say that we should weep at the Word of God. I think I literally scoffed at him. But then he told the Gospel in his version and the whole room was crying by the end because we had a new understanding of the heart of God. That didn’t happen because this man is holier than we are, it happened because he believed it could and we gave God the opportunity to let it be true. God reveals Himself through His Word and it’s cool, trust me. God gives us plenty of incentives to go after His Word. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and these things will be added to you. Remain in me and I’ll make your joy complete. Seek and you will find. Blessed are those who hunger, they’ll be filled. All these verses are essentially saying go after God and God will give Himself to you.

If you don’t know where to start, open your Bible to Zephaniah 3:17. Pick one phrase from that verse and focus on it for an hour. Put your phone out of reach, read the verse, write it, sing it, say it out loud, pray it over yourself. Don’t read the rest of the chapter or even the whole verse, just one little part. Write all your distractions on a piece of paper and come back to them after the hour. I promise you that God will show up for you because God promised you that. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Then find me and tell me what He showed you. Maybe read Psalm 16 every day for six months and see what new revelations you get. Dive into 1 Corinthians 13 once a week and find five cross references that relate to the chapter. Imagine you are Peter or John as you read through the book of John. You don’t need podcasts or blogs to know God. You don’t need Bob or Daniel to learn about His heart or His character. He has given Himself to you because He loves you— go get Him.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick; it feels like an anchor for my soul— but not in the good way. But hope is our way out of the waiting season. Paramore sings, “Hold onto hope if you’ve got it, don’t let it go for nobody, they say that dreaming is free but I wouldn’t care what it cost me.” If that’s not holy enough for you, the Bible says that God put a door of hope in the valley. If that’s too general for you, I had a dream at the beginning of the semester that God was calling us to cling to hope. And if that’s too weird, just ask God for yourself what He is saying about hope. I know hope is hard but it’s going to be worth it. Your reward is worth it.

In Song of Solomon, this Shulamite woman goes through a rough time but by the end of it she’s coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved. My goal in every season is to do the exact same— lean on my Beloved. Depending on God is the safest and smartest thing I can do in every season. The best part is that we have a reward, an inheritance, that cannot be taken away. Regardless of the smaller things we hope for, we will receive God in the end. Remember all the hardships Job went through? He had everything restored to him and was more blessed than he had been at the beginning of his story. But more importantly, he had an encounter with God. Remember the promised land Moses hoped for then died right before he got to enter it? The next time we see him, he’s on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and Elijah in glory. Jesus is actually better than our desired lands flowing with milk and honey. Jesus didn’t come to do away with the law and the prophets but to fulfill them, and Jesus isn’t shaking things up in your life to contradict or dispose of the things He’s told you. He’s going to fulfill them. There is something coming for you that is better than the good you had before or the terrible that you’re enduring now. I pray that your faith does not fail.

My last piece of advice for you is this: live your life during the waiting. God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. You don’t have to be held back in fear that things will keep getting worse or in fear that God won’t show up for you. He is a wall of fire around you and glory within you. He is resurrection power dwelling inside of you. In your weakness, His strength is perfect. You can rest when you need to and you can yell at God if you need to, but don’t give up. Keep pressing in even when it’s hard because your reward is coming. The blessing is coming, the promise is coming, but know that the power He deposited in you is available now. The Bible says that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So are you going to give into the flesh and ignore your spirit, or give your all to the spirit and ignore the flesh? Jesus gave you everything you needed to persevere when He gave you the Holy Spirit. Ask Holy Ghost to teach you and comfort you. You’re going to do great. Welcome to the waiting.

Author | Savannah Ugan