Waiting, Christmas, and Susannah Spurgeon: Guest Post by Selah Ulmer
As a child, I remember waiting anxiously for Christmas Day to arrive. As the calendar turned to December, I felt so much anticipation yet was painfully aware of the long days that still separated me from the wonder of Christmas morning. The waiting seemed impossible; as if it would never end.
I’m older now and waiting for Christmas isn’t nearly as difficult. The days in December move quickly and Christmas seems to arrive before I have time to catch my breath. But though waiting for Christmas is simpler now doesn’t mean that waiting itself is easy. As an adult, waiting actually seems harder. While as a child I always knew when Christmas would arrive, now there is no guaranteed time of fulfillment for the wants and desires of adulthood. As a Christian waiting is hard because it forces me to walk by faith and not by sight. No, waiting is not an easy task, but it is a necessary and sanctifying one.
Susannah Spurgeon knew a little something about waiting. Afflicted by a debilitating illness for much of her adult life, spunky and hardworking Susannah was often confined to her bed, unable to fervently serve the Lord the way she longed to do. Susannah spent years waiting; waiting for pain to subside, waiting for the ability to actively serve in ministry, waiting for the season when she would no longer be confined. Her writings reflect her struggle and reveal the difficulty of waiting, something to which we can all relate.
I don’t know what you are waiting on right now. It may be a new job, physical healing, a spouse, children, the mending of broken relationships or answers to prayers that seem to go unheard. I can’t tell you when your waiting will end or when the healing will come, but I can tell you that if you are in a waiting season, whether it be for the healing of broken hearts or broken bones, there is a purpose behind it. As you wait, here are three encouragements from Susannah’s writing to keep in mind.
1) Waiting causes us to depend on the Lord.
In a culture that worships independency, we often forget that we are not all powerful. The world tells us that we can get anything we want if we put our minds to it, but the truth is that we are incredibly needy. We are utterly dependent on God for our next breath, yet so quick to forget our need for Him. Though, it often does not feel like it, seasons of waiting and lack are merciful gifts from above, reminding us of our human frailty and our desperate, constant need for Jesus. When we begin to depend on the Lord in seasons of waiting, we find that the solution to our lack is not the job, the relationship or the raise. Instead it is God Himself, who, as Susannah states, has “proved His power to sustain and comfort under every trial” and whose “‘I will be with thee’ has proved a sure refuge against the fierceness of the storm.”
2) Waiting is used to develop our character.
It is easy to think that we are ready for whatever we are waiting on, but the truth is that often we are not. In our rush to get to the next thing in life we forget that God is working to make us more like Himself and prepare us for the good works He has for us to do. Waiting is not a waste; instead it is a season of preparation. Susannah wisely stated, “Too often we presume where we should hesitate…[but] those who are led can lead others; those who have waited for the Lord will be the most patient teachers.” She continues, saying that the sanctifying work done in the waiting is not in vain, for the one who waits and “delights himself in God, and seeks only to do His will, God will, one way or another, give him ‘the desires of his heart.Waitin
3) Waiting teaches us that God is faithful.
When we are waiting for something it is easy to be caught up in what God hasn’t given us instead thinking on what He has done for us. When we shift our perspective from an earthly one to a godly one and start to look for His hand in our lives, we see that His faithfulness is more than we could have imagined. Waiting can be hard and painful, but often it is through that very pain that we see God’s faithfulness in the most personal and intimate ways. We see this in Susannah’s life, as the pain of waiting produced some of her deepest writings and led to the development of her world-wide ministry, The Book Fund. Though we may walk with a limp when the season is over, God’s faithfulness declares that He is with us and is redeeming all things, working them together for good in a way that only He could. It is because of this faithfulness, sustaining us in waiting and bestowing favor upon us in answers that we are able to confidently stand and echo Susannah’s declaration: “To the glory of His dear Name let my pen record [however feebly) His faithfulness to His promises.”
As we draw near to Christmas, perhaps waiting on much, may we remember that in this season we celebrate the greatest fulfillment the world has ever known in the coming of Jesus. Let us cling to the hope that Christ brought into the world and remember that the God who was faithful to send salvation through His Son will be faithful to sanctify and sustain us as we wait.
Selah Ulmer is a graduate of Midwestern Seminary, writer for the National Women’s Missionary Union and Susannah enthusiast. Her mission is to propel others to know God’s Word and apply it to their lives. She serves at First Baptist Church of North Kansas City, where she teaches a group of youth girls who love to ask hard questions. You can follow her on Instagram @selah_ulmer, where she will probably be talking about writing, coffee and good books.
GET A COPY OF SUSIE, HERE: Susie: the Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon
Contact Ray Here: Ray Rhodes, Jr.