By ANNIE WESCHE
All the muscles in my upper body burned with pain as I paced the length of the airport terminal — a sleepless infant in a front carrier, a loaded backpack on my back, and a heavy diaper bag repeatedly slipping from my shoulder.
After enjoying a wonderful vacation with the Ludy family in sunny California (escaping the frigid temperatures of a Colorado winter), I was now flying back home with their newborn while the rest of the family was making the drive back in the minivan. We had all made the trip down to California together, but after baby Kip had loudly protested the long hours in his car seat, it was decided that it would be much easier for everyone if I took him on a quick flight home. Such were our well-intended plans.
Instead of a quick journey, we faced flight delays and more flight delays. There I was with a precious-but-fussy newborn pacing the airport all day, desperately rationing the remaining formula, and eying my dwindling diaper supply. I was sweaty, achy, tired, and a little embarrassed by the many eyes that watched me pace the same airport terminal over and over and over.
Later that day, Eric and Leslie called me again from the road to get the latest update on our flight situation. They, no doubt, quickly gathered that I was exhausted and had just used the last baby diaper.
In an attempt to offer comfort and encouragement, Eric said, “Annie, you’re doing great! Just remember … everything comes to an end. This day isn’t going to last forever.”
“Yeah, but THERE’S A MIDDLE!” I yelled in reply, immediately shocked by my unrestrained exasperation. And then we both couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
How true it is that nothing lasts forever, but when you’re right in the middle, that’s not always a comfort. It’s always hardest in the middle when the end is unclear.
Eric and Leslie were certainly understanding of the heavy strain of the day, and I know they felt limited in how to help at a distance. We all prayed together that there would be no further delays in getting Kip and me to the comfort of home and to an abundant supply of diapers.
/ / /
Oh, the middle. No matter what you’re in the middle of, it usually means waiting, longing, and uncertainty; and it’s also often marked with struggle, obstacles, surprises, delays, or disappointments. The middle is leading us somewhere, but we rarely know how long it will last — and that’s what makes it so hard. We acutely feel the discomfort and cry out, “Lord, please … answer, lead, provide, help, heal, rescue, finish!” If we see the end clearly in sight, then the waiting is easier. But for much of the middle we usually don’t yet know how or when God is going to bring us through to our desired end.
Since that debacle of a day, “the middle” has become an endearing phrase and reminder for Eric, Leslie, and myself. We’ll say to one another with a knowing smile, “Hey, remember the middle?” We’ve all had far more difficult middles since that day, but this phrase reminds us that it is in the middle where God does some of the most precious work within our souls! In the middle we must exercise faith in the One who knows our circumstances, discomfort, and struggles — as well as all our hopes, longings, and plans. We must trust that He is right there with us. He is God Almighty and could bring our desired end at any time! But if He allows us to remain longer in the middle, then it is for a good purpose through which we will be made stronger — if we will trust Him.
Are you in a middle season in your life, longing to break through to the other side of the waiting?
I’ve experienced a measure of how wearying a middle season can be. I lived for 29 months in Haiti as a foster mum to the two youngest Ludy children, spending most of that time crying out to the Lord, “How much longer till we can bring them home?” And throughout those nearly two and a half years, we navigated endless challenges, obstacles, disappointments, discomforts, and dangers.
For six months I watched my beloved mum battle brain cancer, clinging to the hope of her healing and crying out for the middle to lead to breakthrough.
I walked with my dad through a difficult middle of physical suffering — eight trying months of dressing open wounds on both his legs from his ankles to his knees — unsure if his body would fail or if God would help him recover.
I am in the middle of years of fervently praying for a struggling loved one to yield their life to Jesus and walk in the newness and joy only He can bring.
And I know the middle of longing for marriage, while also desiring to live today’s singleness for Christ with unhindered joy in God’s goodness, purpose, and timing.
Each of those middles have become deeply precious to me, and I want to share with you some of the things I’ve learned in those seasons. My hope is that you may see that your own middle is full of God’s purposes, which will reap a harvest as you abide in trust-filled waiting and obedience to Him.
God grows us in the middle.
The middle seasons are where our patience and faith are tested, and the measure of our surrender is revealed. And each of those things — patience, faith, and surrender — will grow as we continually lift our eyes up from our circumstances to gaze upon the faithful One who holds all things together and is working to sanctify us through them.
Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Will you allow your middle season to grow you? Will you welcome the work God desires to do in your life by trusting His timing and way through — knowing that He is a God of power, purpose, love, goodness, and wisdom? Unlike us, He sees above and beyond the end we desire. His plans for us are far greater than what we could hope or plan for ourselves. And that is reason for tremendous joy and hope!
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake
the work of Your hands.
I will cry out to God Most High, to God who
performs all things for me.
The Lord is doing a growing and sanctifying work within your life, and He desires to fulfill, accomplish, and perfect all that concerns you. He is not stretched thin among His children. You have His full attention and care. And He is merciful towards you. He will not forsake His work.
The middle reminds us we are not our own.
How natural it is to live for our own plans. But there is nothing like an uncertain middle — where we face delayed or changed plans — to remind us that we are not our own, but His. He is LORD over our life — Ruler, Master, and King.
For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:20
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
God gives good gifts in the middle.
As I look back on all the middles — even the most difficult ones that I would never want to relive — I can say unreservedly that there is not a single part of those middles that I would want removed from the story. All that God allowed in the middle held something for me to receive from Him. Waiting on Him strengthened my trust in His wise plans. His way brought unexpected connections and experiences I was made richer for having. Suffering brought intimacy with Him. Uncertainty caused me to hold to what was certain about Him and His Word. Disappointments led me to prize Him above my own desires. Difficulty showed me His enabling grace. Heartaches revealed the depth of His comfort. Trials brought spiritual maturity … and so much more.
Yes, when you’re in the thick of the middle, sometimes all you can see and feel is the difficulty. But after our wise and loving God, who rules over all things, carries us through it, we can look back and see a trail of precious things fashioned in the heat of that middle. And sometimes, He even makes a few of those treasures known as we are in the middle — giving us gratitude and hope in the midst of difficult waiting. We catch a glimpse of the refining work He is doing in us, and it stirs our hearts to continue in faith-filled trust in His sovereign purposes. We can say, “Yes, Lord, grow me and do Your work as I wait upon You!”
It is the Lord for whom we wait.
While it’s easy to have our eyes on that which we are longing for when we are in a middle, Scripture tells us over and over that we are to wait for Him — for His best, His will, His purpose, His glory, His very presence. Above all, He is the prize in all our waiting. He is our greatest gain in every middle season. Less of us, Lord, more of You!
He must increase, but I must decrease.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14 ESV
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
No eye has seen a God besides You, who acts
for those who wait for Him.
Isaiah 64:4b ESV
Of all the saints of Scripture and the great Christians and martyrs whom we have been impacted by, think of their middle seasons in the stories you know so well. Ponder the work God did through the waiting, trials, persecution, or uncertainty. It was there in the middle that He shaped their souls and made Himself more fully known! We cannot have the end without growing through the middle. And isn’t it gloriously comforting to know our God is at work there on our behalf, for our good and His glory? May we look upon these middle seasons with new eyes, fresh hope, gratitude, and even joyful anticipation for all the things we have yet to see or understand that God is at work to do!
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
May we be women who are intimately acquainted with the glorious hope God has revealed to us in Psalm 139, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 26:3, Psalm 56:3–4, Nahum 1:7, Psalm 46:1, 2 Timothy 1:7, and so many, many others throughout His most precious Word.
This article was originally published in Issue 40.
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