By Hope Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
Limbo. In-between. Waiting periods. I can hazard a guess that none of us like the uncertainty. I certainly don't. Nothing gets me more jittery than not knowing. So how do we tackle these limbo periods in a biblical way—when we don't have a general sense from God about what to do? We'll examine why we undergo times of waiting, and how to make the most of them.
Why Do We Undergo Periods of Limbo?
When we first reach the in-between stage, we may feel a temptation to lift our hands to the sky and cry out, "Why?" It makes no sense that we can't make sense of our situations. First, let's see what Scripture has to say about limbo.
Isaiah 30:18: "Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Micah 7:7: "But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
Ecclesiastes 3:1,7: "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak."
For more Bible verses on waiting, check out the linked article.
Scripture makes it clear that we need to exercise patience in these seasons. That God always moves in the in-between. But why does he make us undergo such times in the first place? Although the list below isn't exhaustive, below are some of the reasons why you may be in a waiting season:
You Need Rest
Most often waiting periods follow a time of exhaustion and overworking. Likely your body, soul, and spirit need some recovery time.
God Is Working behind the Scenes
Joseph understood limbo. He spent several years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. But during that time, God had formed a pathway for him that when Pharaoh released him from prison, he'd save Egypt and the surrounding lands from a famine. He'd receive a position of power, one that wouldn't have come if he hadn't endured limbo.
You Need Time for Reflection
During our busy seasons, we can often neglect our prayer and devotional life. Seasons of rest give us time to slow down and spend more time in the Word and talking to God.
God Is Growing You
Limbo tends to grow us. Stretch us beyond our comfort zones. Force us to rely on God's timing.
Growth does not come without growing pains. No wonder such seasons tend to feel like they've hurt us the most. But lean in, press on, and trust in God's timing.
No matter what the reason, God has landed you in a period of limbo. So let's tackle how to handle this season best, and to make the most of it.
Tip 1: Rest
I know, I know, if you're anything like me, this sounds nearly impossible. Especially with the jitters that accompany a limbo time of life. We want answers. We want God to move. We want to do anything but take Sabbaths.
But once the adrenaline slows, we realize we may need rest more than we care to admit. Take advantage of the downtime. When you enter a time of busyness, you'll surely miss it.
Tip 2: Pray
I knock on doors until my knuckles hurt. So whenever I enter limbo, I tend to bang my fists against the wood even more frantically.
But, instead of doing that, during this period, we ought to ask God for his timing and direction. He will move at just the right moment. He tends to give us the next steps right when we need them.
Tip 3: Ask Others to Pray
Many of us from individualistic cultures hate asking for help. I know I certainly do. But we cannot underestimate the power of prayer. Especially when the saints gather together to lift up a brother or sister in need of comfort and strength. Allow others to know your life circumstances and how you need clarity from the Lord.
Tip 4: Don't Forsake Scripture
When life tends to go not as we planned, we can often shirk Scripture reading and prayer. We get frustrated that God won't send us a sign or a vision, even though he speaks directly to us through the pages of his word.
I don't want to say that we need to read the Bible more during this season—as we should dive into Scripture during every time of life—but we certainly should not grow weary of getting into the Word during times of limbo. Satan tends to prowl during our weakest moments. He'll isolate you and dull your senses during this time if you allow him to grab a foothold. Know that a spiritual battle wages around you, and even in a time of indecision and waiting, the war continues viciously.
Tip 5: Remember God's Faithfulness
I have kept a diary since June of last year. I've found that in my most despairing of moments, I can flip through those pages and see how often God has rescued me, delivered me, and given me direction when I needed it most. God did not bring you this far only to abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6). If you can, log blessings you see every day. That way, you can look back and remember. In our hardest trials, we tend to forget God's goodness. Like the Israelites in the desert—who spent decades in limbo—we yearn to go back to Egypt, to go back to our old life. Forgetting how our old life entangled us in poisonous sin.
It also helps to know that we never truly escape limbo while here on earth. We all feel like strangers, pilgrims, searching for a country of our own (Hebrews 11:6). We will always feel a sense of in-between until we reach the pearly gates of heaven.
So continue to trust in the Lord's promises and know that he will not leave you in the in-between forever.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/g-stockstudio
Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, a multi-published novelist, and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,100 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy is out with IlluminateYA. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in November of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.