How You Live in the Pause Affects what Follows
Pause? Stop? Reflect? In this fast food, instant credit, scrolling social media day and age, it's unusual to pause. And if we hit a pause in life, we want to push fast forward, because pauses are uncomfortable. Yet the Christmas story is full of pauses, times of reflection, time to consider what's important.
Being a woman, the women in the Bible fascinate me. I have nothing against the men. I'm just naturally drawn to the women. Why are they included? What made them tick? Who was important to them? Where do they fit into God's great story? How does their story impact my story?
Therefore, I love the backstory of what I have dubbed "The Three Wise Women." Each of these women’s lives seemed to either be in pause or about to be put on pause before the grand unfolding of God’s Christmas story. What they did during the pause is what gives them the title "The Three Wise Women."
1. The Participants in the Pause
Wise Woman #1 - Luke 1:5-7
Elizabeth married well. Her husband, Zachariah, was a priest blessed to serve the people in their hometown. They both were model citizens in and out of the temple. (Luke 1:6) A picture perfect life, except for one thing. She was childless, which was considered a disgrace at that time. When we meet Elizabeth, Luke 1:7 tells us not only was she without a child, but she was advanced in years. It’s as if God hit pause on her story.
Wise Woman #2 - Luke 1:26-38
Mary was in the bloom of her youth. She was in the waiting period between engagement and marriage. Such a beautiful, exciting time for any woman. Yet the visions she had of the future probably changed by the appearance of an angel! Not your everyday experience! After the angel departed, Mary was left to deliberate what her new norm was: she was pregnant. Out of wedlock. How would she tell her betrothed? It’s as if God hit pause in her story.
Wise Woman #3 - Luke 2:36-38
Anna is my personal favorite. She faithfully served in the temple, prophesying about the coming Messiah. She was very old. It’s hard to believe she had been young once. Married even, to her beau. But he died early in their marriage leaving her a widow and childless. It’s as if God hit pause in her story.
2. Pondering the Pause
Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. Ordinary women just like you and me, with dreams and desires, yet each faced with predicaments out of their control. It’s as if the story of their lives was clipping along nicely, but then God hit pause. And the waiting began.
But we don’t see them foolishly throw their hands up in despair and give up on God. Instead, we see them lean into God, lean into what they know of Him, and trust Him to write the conclusion of their stories. How they waited in the pause is what counts them among the wise.
Perhaps you’re longing for a child, or a mate, or a new job, or reconciliation. What do we do in the pause? How do we wait well in the unknown? Listed below are three ways to wait during life’s pause wisely.
3. Power during the Pause
Prayer - Each woman was noted as praying. Elizabeth in the courtyard (Luke 1:10), Mary in Elizabeth’s home (Luke 1:46-55), and Anna in the temple (Luke 2:37). Prayer focuses our thoughts and steadies our hearts during the waiting period. Here are some great Scriptures on the importance of prayer:
- Romans 12:12 - Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
- Ephesians 6:18 - Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
- Colossians 4:2 - Continue steadfastly in prayer.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - Never stop praying.
Patience - the ability to accept delay or trouble calmly, meaning without complaining. Even though they each had different length pauses, they waited well. They chose to endure the unexpected pause. Unlike Sarah, they didn’t rush God or take things into their own hands. They stoically put their trust in God and allowed His timing to shape their lives. Do you need to be patient? Here are some gems to light the way:
- Psalm 37:7 - Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
- Psalm 40:1 - I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
- Colossians 1:11 - being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
- Hebrews 6:12 - so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Perseverance - steady persistence in spite of difficulty or obstacles. Each woman chose to stay steadfast during the pause. They continued to do what they had always done, obeyed and served God wholeheartedly. Eyes on the goal, heart unwavering, mind obedient. Here are a few verses to anchor our hearts and minds:
- Colossians 1:11 - We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power, so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,
- 2 Thessalonians 3:5 - May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
- James 1:3 - For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
- James 1:4 - So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
The Prize after the Pause
Wise Woman #1 - Luke 1:25
After decades of waiting, Elizabeth was blessed with a baby, not just any baby but the forerunner of the Savior of the world! “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
Wise Woman #2 - Luke 2:19
After her nine-month pause, Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world, Jesus! Shepherds and angels and proclamations were all part of the welcoming party. Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.
Wise Woman #3 - Luke 2:38
After almost a lifetime of living in the pause, Anna was rewarded with seeing baby Jesus before she died. I can just imagine her thrill! All while doing exactly what she had done during the pause, serving in the temple night and day with fasting and prayers. How kind of God.
Studying these women has inspired me to complain less, endure more, and to live purposely in the pause. More than anything, it's taught me to see the pause as a gift. The pause is a gift because it prompts me to remember what is truly important in this life, to love and serve God even when I can't see His great plan unfolding. May we practice prayer, patience, and perseverance during the pause, so we too may be counted among the wise.
1 Timothy 6:11 - Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
How about you? How have you chosen to thrive during the pauses of life? Are you currently in a pause? How are you surviving?
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.