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The Hidden Gifts of Waiting

The Hidden Gifts of Waiting

Waiting in the wings.

I wonder what those words do to your heart, friend.

Maybe they poke a bruise because your season of hidden waiting has dragged on longer than you dreamed. Perhaps you feel forgotten and overlooked. Maybe you wonder if the Lord will ever turn the page on your chapter of waiting.   I know the feeling, well.

Fresh from college, I auditioned for a lead role in an exciting New York production. After a lot of high hopes and a grueling audition process, I didn’t land the role, but was cast as an understudy, meaning I would perform only when that actor could not.  I  would spend a lot of time waiting in the wings. Though my young heart ached, I soon understood that the season of waiting was a master class in preparation, as I apprenticed under a more seasoned performer. She was an oak; I was an acorn. I was hidden in her shadow, yet it wasn’t a bad thing; it was a beneficial one. And when I finally played the role, which I did close to fifty times, I had been made ready, by studying under her.

  • Preparation is one of waiting’s most glorious (and hidden) gifts. 

Consider David’s season of hidden-ness prior to becoming King - the long years between his anointing and his appointing were over a decade. During that time, David was concealed in desert caves and fought foes non-stop. Every difficult battle and delay prepared him for the crown, making him ready to lead. David’s hidden years acted as a forge that helped mold him into a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

Yet, it is the earliest chapter of David’s life that speaks to the deep preparation of being hidden. The prophet Samuel, mourning over God’s rejection of King Saul, was directed by God to make haste to Jesse’s house, where he would find the new king among Jesse’s sons. Here, we pick up the story midstream:

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” ……Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers. (1 Samuel 16:6–13, edited) 

Scripture implies that Jesse had brought all his sons to the prophet—after all, a house call from the esteemed prophet Samuel was no garden-variety experience. Jesse proudly paraded out his sons, surely hoping for destiny’s declaration: “Behold the head that will wear the crown.” However, with each embodiment of tall glory, the Lord reminds Samuel, Man sees the height. I see the heart.  God’s view penetrates to the deeper stuff, to what is hidden within.

Finally, surely feeling confused, the prophet asks Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

Jesse sheepishly admits he had one more son—the baby - out in the field.

Taking a smidge of liberty, Jesse’s reply fairly screams, Surely, it’s not David. If you think it’s David, think again.

Why didn’t Jesse remember David? Was he treating David more as a servant than as a son- as an emotional “black sheep” of the family? It’s possible, since the Hebrew word Jesse used, translated as “youngest,” is qatan, meaning small, young, unimportant, the last. Apparently, David was so out of sight and so out of mind that Jesse thought of him — in this case — as unworthy of consideration. Unworthy of inclusion.

Rejection and exclusion can be deep spiritual and psychological wounds. In fact, recent studies report that rejection and physical pain light up the same pathways in the brain. .[ii]  A breaking bone and a breaking heart are processed similarly, it seems. When we sense rejection from people who should accept and include us, especially family or friends, well, the poison is distilled rather than diluted. Just a drop can foul the entire well. We don’t need to go down the wormhole to understand the septic wound these unholy twins cause, but I would be remiss if I didn’t write these words:

In Christ, we are neither rejected, forgotten, excluded, or marginalized. In Him, we are accepted in the Beloved. In Him, we have a seat at the table. In Him, we are considered. And even when no one else affirms us, Jesus does.

Fellow sojourner, if you have ever been forgotten, resist the temptation to misinterpret that forgottenness. And be careful about doing faulty math on your season of forgottenness (by others), thinking, God has forgotten me too. I’m invisible to God. Do I matter? Your human forgottenness may be forging something in you of great worth spiritually. Your season of waiting and hiddenness may be preparing you in ways you can’t yet conceive for things you can’t yet conceive.

Preparation is a chief benefit of waiting on (and in) the Lord –– but there are others.  Personally, seasons of waiting prepare my heart spiritually by helping me grow deeper in the grace of compassion -  a critical characteristic in any Jesus-follower’s life. When we have felt forgotten, we tend not to forget others. When we have been on the periphery, we tend to see periphery-dwellers.  When we have been brought in from the field (by God’s gracious hand), we tend to look for others still in the shadows. We begin to see more as He sees.

Our hiddenness, our waiting rooms – transformed in His nail-scarred hands-  give us such rare gifts, if we can open our hands and hearts to them. In Christ, waiting time is never wasted time. He is always doing more than we could ever dream.

May that truth comfort and anchor you as you wait.



Devotion written for FaithGateway by Allison Allen, author of Hidden.

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