We caught up with author Sharla Fritz to chat about her new women’s study called Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust. Sharla is a Christian author, musician, and speaker. In addition to Waiting, Sharla's other books include Soul Spa, Divine Design, Divine Makeover, and Bless These Lips. Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust is now available on cph.org. Check out our Q&A with Sharla below.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did your interest in writing begin? What are some of the things you enjoy in addition to writing?
I recently discovered a notebook from my childhood with stories about Peter Peach and Amy Apple—so I guess my interest in writing dates back to second grade! But I took it up seriously after my children graduated from high school. After fifteen years of homeschooling, I finally had time to pursue that interest.
In addition to writing, I love singing, playing the piano, and reading. My husband and I love to travel—especially to China to see our daughter and her family. We also take every opportunity we can to visit national parks.
What prompted you to write a Bible study on the topic of waiting?
When I give presentations on the topic of waiting and talk about my struggles in life’s waiting rooms, someone always comes up to me afterwards and tearfully shares her own waiting story. So many of us feel stuck and wonder, “Why the delay?” “Why can’t I have the answer to my prayer now?”
To help myself and others, I wanted to spend some time with the topic of waiting and study how women of the Bible handled their waiting periods. I wanted to discover what God desires of us in these seasons of delay. God taught me so much during the writing of this book!
In your study, you tell the stories of eight women from the Bible who God asked to wait, whether it was for healing, children, or guidance, and the list goes on. Why did you decide to share these eight stories in particular?
There are so many waiting stories in Scripture. While we may hate to wait, God seems to love it! I chose these eight stories because of what each woman waited for and for her reaction to the delay. Did she wait well? Or did she make her situation worse through her actions during the waiting period? What can we learn from her example? How do we see God at work when her life seemed to be put on hold?
Some of the stories are familiar. We’ve heard about Sarah and Esther since Sunday School. Yet when we study them with the lens of the topic of waiting, we learn new insights. Some of the stories are less familiar. But the widow of Zarephath and the woman with the twelve-year hemorrhage also have much to teach us about God’s ways.
Why is it important that women today study the lives of women who lived in Bible times?
God has a purpose for every word He put in the Bible. He included the stories of these women so we could be encouraged by His work in their lives. We can learn from their mistakes and be inspired by their faith and courage.
You mention that there is a better way to wait—a way to “wait well.” When did you discover this better way of waiting? How does waiting well contrast with how you used to wait?
My default method of waiting is tapping my toes and demanding God to act now. I gripe and grumble and question God’s timing.
I think I finally began to change my ways when my daughter moved to China. I spent a year or more in my default method of waiting—complaining to God and praying He would change His mind and send her home again. When that didn’t happen, God began to change my heart. He showed me that He would hold my hurt and loneliness. That waiting is hard, but it is also an opportunity to grow in trust in a loving God.
In the introduction to this study, you ask a really good question: What if the waiting rooms of life are actually God’s best classrooms? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned when God has asked you to wait?
I’ve learned that waiting is an opportunity to let go of my self-sufficiency. When I’m in a season of delay, I’m frustrated that there seems to be nothing I can do to fix the situation. But when I finally let go of my striving, I can sit back and watch God work!
I’ve also learned that trying to step ahead of God’s timing is always disastrous. That waiting in itself can be one of God’s missions for your life. And that God is always at work behind the scenes during our waiting dramas.
Why do you encourage women to go through this study together? How do you envision women using this study?
I encourage women to go through this study in a group of other ladies-in-waiting, because as we share our waiting stories with each other, we can see God’s hand in every situation. We can be encouraged by the experiences of others and pray for each other during life’s long pauses.
But this book can be used for personal study as well. Because the readings are all grouped together, it can be read straight through without doing the study questions. The Bible study portion in the back of the book is organized so that women can choose the amount of time they want to invest in the study. You only have fifteen minutes? Do the Reflect on the Reading questions. A little more time? Dig Into Scripture, Apply the Story to Your Life, or maybe even Complete a Project.
What is one of the messages you want women to walk away with when they are done with this study?
I hope that women will see: Every moment of waiting that God places in your life matters. It is during our waiting periods that God develops our patience, molds our character, and teaches us our most crucial life lessons.
Visit cph.org to order your copy of Waiting: A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust.