Waiting stinks. Lately, I feel like I am stuck in God’s celestial waiting room with a pile of ancient magazines that I have no interest in reading. Can’t we just get on with things already? Haven’t I waited enough? I’m like the psalmist who cries out “How long O Lord…” I think that the instant world that we live in makes it all the harder. What is worse than waiting five seconds for the youtube video to load? Why is there three lanes open at Wal-Mart and 22 that are closed when I have two entire people in front of me? Are you serious? My Big Mac isn’t ready by the time I have arrived at the pick-up window? Waiting stinks.
The problem is that God has an entirely different perspective. For some reason I haven’t been getting better at waiting even though I have had to do a lot of it. Therefore, I decided to turn to the Scriptures and see what I could learn. Here is what I found out about why God has me waiting so much.
1. Waiting is a time to seek God and better understand his will.
“‘Moses answered them, ‘Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you.’” – Numbers 9:8
Discerning the will of God doesn’t usually come quickly. A time of delay is a great opportunity to continue to seek God for his direction.
2. Waiting is a time to resist “other” paths to your desire.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” -Psalm 37:7
Temptations abound in times of waiting especially when everyone around you seems to be getting on with things and experiencing success and prosperity. One of the greatest temptations is to take matters into our own hands and forge a way of our own to what we want. Abraham made this classic mistake in starting his family through Hagar rather than waiting for God to bring about a child through Sarah. The repercussions of that decision still shape the world today. Wait for the Lord.
3. Waiting is a time to practice faith.
“Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God” -Psalm 38:15
I love the declaration of the psalmist here. I get the sense that he is trying to strengthen his own faith as he declares it. It reminds me of the man who says to Jesus “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”. Faith is something that grows as it is acted upon. You don’t have to have perfect faith in order to trust God. Trust him, ask for his help to trust him and let your faith expand.
4. Waiting is a time to let God work out his plans for you.
“But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” – Psalm 106:13
I think it is pretty exciting to simply consider that God has plans for me. He has plans for you too. Waiting isn’t God punishing you. It’s God unfolding his blessing for you. Trust him.
5. Waiting is a time to glorify God.
“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” -Isaiah 26:8
This one took me a little off guard, but it is beautiful. We are free to set out and force our will if we choose. However, if we choose to wait upon the Lord and wait for his best, we declare to all that God’s will is the desire of our hearts and we are willing to wait for it. He is lifted up. His renown grows. God is glorified. And it does stand out because no one likes to wait. Patience is rare. People will take note that you handle things differently and you can give Jesus the credit.
6. Waiting is a time to realize that the Lord is our share regardless of what we get here on earth.
“I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’” – Lamentations 3:24
What does it mean that the Lord is my portion? It means that my share of life, of blessing, of joy is the Lord himself. I may be waiting for some desire to come through that I anticipate will add to my life, but I can be patient and wait because I already have the Lord himself. He is my share of this life, but we have to grow into this understanding. Why does the author have to say to himself that the Lord is his portion? Because he is working to grab hold of it just like us.
7. Waiting is a time to do what you can while you wait.
“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.” -Mark 15:43
Joseph is waiting for the kingdom of God to come. He was a follower of Jesus. He believed that Jesus was the king. I’m sure he was extremely confused as to what in the world was going on. That’s how we usually feel when we are waiting, don’t we? Joseph sets a good example for us and just does what he can by caring for Jesus body while he waits for the story to play out. What can you do while you wait?
8. Waiting is a time to believe God for good things.
“The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah.” -Luke 3:15
It had been 400 years since a prophet had been in Israel. God had been silent. Generations had been waiting in anticipation for the Messiah. That is different from how I usually wait. I wait with anxiety. I wait with frustration. I wait with grumbling. I wait with fear of disappointment. All that lacks faith which is really the key in all of these truths. Faith waits in expectation and it does so for one simple reason. God is good and therefore, God does what is good. We should anticipate nothing less. Now sometimes when things finally do come to pass, they don’t work out the way that we want. It can be heartbreaking, but it is at that time that we must truly trust in the goodness of God and that he still has good for us.
9. Waiting is a time to act.
“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” -Acts 22:16
Sometimes we are waiting and it isn’t time to wait. It is time to act. It’s always time to obey God. It’s always time to trust God. It’s always time to believe in Jesus. And if God has spoken clearly to you on some point, it is time to do what he says. Too often, we want ten levels of confirmation. Guess what? You are attempting to eliminate faith from the picture and God doesn’t work like that. It is a faith proposition. Trust him.
10. Waiting is a time to withhold judgement.
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” -1 Corinthians 4:5
Waiting can do funny things to your mind. Everyone else seems to be getting on with things. Everybody else seems to be able to make life work. Everybody else seems to progressing nicely. And then, we are tempted by our jealousy to think badly of others. We are tempted to question their motives or methods to getting what they have. Don’t do it. Wait. Give grace. Let the Lord sort out the hearts of others. Make sure you are doing what you need to be doing.
11. Waiting is a time to remain right with the Lord so that you are in a position to receive his blessings.
Waiting can be a frustrating experience. It can tempt you to doubt God’s goodness. It can tempt you to seek some false pleasure to soothe the strain of waiting. It can tempt you in all sorts of ways. Keep close to the Lord. Remain faithful to the Lord. Obey the Lord. The Lord loves to bless the upright.
There is a lot to work on while we wait. We always want the destination, but it is the process that God uses to grow us up in Christ. What have you learned about waiting? Let me know in the comments and be sure to sign up to receive every post in your e-mail each week. It’s free and it’s easy. No waiting required.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. -Isaiah 64:4