Wilderness of Waiting: Encouragement from Nehemiah 9:21

You provided for them in the wilderness forty years,

and they lacked nothing.

Their clothes did not wear out,

and their feet did not swell.

(Nehemiah 9:21, CSB)

Patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to me. It is almost exhausting to put aside my fleshly self and use the patience the Lord gives me, but the consequences that occur when I cave into my natural inclination are far worse.

Impatience is poison to relationships. Encouragement and validation are stripped and replaced with disbelief and disrespect. While my husband and I were in the premarital stage of our story I failed miserably at upholding patience in several situations. I knew I shouldn’t ask if Silas made a decision on the future plans yet, but like a kid on a long car ride, I found myself asking “are we there yet?” night after night. And every time I would get incredibly frustrated at myself for irritating Silas and disrespecting his future role as my leader.

And then it happened again, 23 days after we said: “I do.”


My “choice of contentment” flew out the window as soon as I started thinking about the unknown choices we have to make in the upcoming months. I had chosen to be content as long as I knew when I could marry my person – but I forgot to choose contentment for every moment thereafter. Specifically, I have failed to remember to choose contentment for the waiting seasons of life.

Moments after bombarding my husband with more pressure to shape the future with unknown information, I flipped my Bible open to Nehemiah 9. My heart meditated on verse 21 as I realized my need to repent of my impatient demands. “You provided for them in the wilderness forty years” – the Israelites endured forty years of waiting for the promised land. And throughout that time, “they lacked nothing.” 

Now, God had called them to a season of waiting in the wilderness due to their sin (Numbers 14:23). And while this specific example of waiting was of God’s need to discipline his people for their disbelief in his word, not all seasons of waiting are a result of sin or even God’s way of disciplining you. I do believe there are periods of time God calls us to wait, and waiting isn’t as bad of a thing as we make it out to be. In the wise words of C.S. Lewis, “I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait.” (Mere Christianity). Most of the times we can only speculate on why God might be having us wait (in my particular case, I believe I’m needing to overcome this impatience foothold).

Could the place where we have no other choice but to give our all – our thoughts, our praise, our burdens, our trust – to God be the very place he needs us to be in order to know him more?

While we might never completely know why we’re waiting, we can trust in God’s proven character of perfect love: and remember that even though the Israelites were waiting as a form of discipline on their sin, by God’s grace they had all they needed. Even after forty years of wandering, their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.

I don’t know what the future holds for the newlywed Myrick’s. But I do know God, and I know he is good. I know he will not reveal the future to me until it is good for him to – and until that moment I need to release my anxious impatience so I can hold on to God’s unfathomable peace. May I be more focused on learning how to trust in God and Silas’ leadership, and less focused on desiring answers quickly. After all, he’s promised to provide for all of my needs in this wilderness of waiting – and he’s provided me with an excellent husband who will protect, provide, and lead us through and onward.

If you’re in a season of waiting, I hope you remind yourself daily of God’s goodness and faithfulness to allow your heart’s desire to be revealed when it is good to be. If you’re currently living out contentment in this season of your life, I hope you make the commitment to keep choosing that contentment for whatever comes next. Only through the power of Christ can we overcome impatience and anxiety about the future.