Psalm 40:1 NLT
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
The bougainvillea plant was removed from a large pot and replanted near the trellis over our new patio. It was in shock. One of its thick roots had snapped when it was violently pulled out. I wondered whether it would survive the radical loss of its leaves as they yellowed and fell silently to the ground. I held onto the hope that its branches would one day cover the trellis with bright red and green leaves.
I looked for tiny green buds along its branches, for signs of new life, and I waited. I dug around the trunk and gave it nourishment and water regularly. I waited, continuing to hope that hidden deep within her there was still life. I waited wondering whether it was putting all its energy into new roots.
Just as we cannot see the repairs and restoration happening in a transplanted vine, we cannot always see what God is doing in us as we wait in liminal space. Disruptive changes and losses happen regularly in life: a worldwide pandemic, divorce, the loss of a job, broken relationships, and illnesses. These troubles have the potential to leave us in shock, grieving and wondering if life will ever be the same again. Waiting in liminal space can seem interminable. It can be disorienting, and confusing.
Two of Jesus’ prayers tell me he knew the pain of loss and waiting in liminal space. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to the Father, “if it is possible let this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” His ability to pray under the enormous sorrow and anxiety of what he would face, speaks to his habitual way of praying. And so, he taught his disciples to pray: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In Jesus we have someone who doesn’t just know about our sorrow; he feels it with us and sees us through it.
When I remember how dead this vine seemed and yet how beautiful, vibrant, and productive it is today, I am encouraged to have hope in God’s power to redeem. Nothing happens to us outside of God’s good purpose for us. While we wait, we can give God access to the deep places within by praying honestly about our feelings and asking him for the patience and trust to wait.
His redemptive power can be seen in the treasures we discover in the waiting: a new revelation of who God is, a course correction, strength to endure or a gift of compassion, all graces given for our healing and for the sake of a hurting world.
"I surrender ________________ to you, Lord. I cast all my fear and anxiety and insecurity upon you, trusting that you will do your part, trusting that you will show me what my part is (if any), and trusting that all things will work together for good--because I love you, and because I am called according to your purpose.”
Please give me the wisdom to know your will for me, the willingness to accept it, and the courage and strength to wait patiently. I need your help in each of these ways, for I cannot do any of them on my own.¹—Carmen Fleming
¹ Adapted from the "Daily Prayer of Surrender", author unknown.