Hope’s fulfillment can take a while. There are, after all, at least three possible answers to prayer: yes, no, and wait! Often the most difficult to deal with is not the “no” answer, but when God says, “Wait.” Who likes to wait? In fact, if you enjoy creeping along in traffic jams, being put on hold by a telephone receptionist, or standing in lines; you are encouraged to ignore this article!
In this day of “instants,” waiting is fast becoming an anachronism–a seemingly misplaced phenomenon, somehow contrary to commonly held Twenty-First Century values.
However, “for everything there is a season” and waiting will always be an unavoidable part of life. For instance, change of circumstances surrounding employment, health, or family situation so often brings a period of waiting to us. To live is to wait.
What’s the Purpose of Waiting?
Waiting is used by God to build character in his people. He utilizes waiting to bring us to spiritual maturity. Paul the Apostle prayed that he might know Christ “in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Waiting on the Lord is often the answer to that prayer. That dark night of the soul in which God reveals that aspect of his grace sometimes called “severe mercy” is a possible product of divine delay.
In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “God’s blessings sometimes come heavily disguised.” When disappointment comes, hope is always there for the Christian. Rather than erasing that disappointment in storybook fashion, however, the Lord frequently has us enter a waiting period—waiting on him.
Examples of Waiting from the Bible
The Bible is full of people who waited: Jacob waited fourteen years for the girl he loved; the Jews in exile for release from captivity in Babylon; the faithful of Christ’s time for their promised Messiah; Jesus for his public manifestation as the Son of God; the one-hundred and twenty in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost for the Holy Spirit. We wait for Christ’s return. A look at a Bible concordance depicts waiting on the Lord as normative to the Christian life.
How should we wait? Patiently . . . with hope . . . with faith (“that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”) Wait prayerfully, praise-fully, and thankfully.
There are alternatives to waiting that are perilous: panic decisions, bitterness toward life, offense at a Lord who will move only on his timetable. Discouragement and thinking God is not there because he is silent can be added to this list. What temptations all!
For those who wait, there are some choice Scriptures:
- “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
- “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
- “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
What is God looking for in the life of one who waits on Him? Sometimes, he listens to hear, as in the case of Job, the sentiment, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” What will happen to you who wait? Realistically, you might have to wait longer than expected. Things could get worse before they get better. When God does move, it might be gradually, by increments. No wonder the script “One Day at a Time” is found mounted on wall plaques!
Be sure of this, as phrased in the Living Bible: “After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you His eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever” (1 Pet. 5:10).
Yet, if God doesn’t come through just when you think that he should, know that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39). Know that, in answer to Abraham’s ancient query, the Judge of all the earth will do right. Know that “those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”