“I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in His word do I hope.”
— Psalm 130:5 (AMP)
In 28 years, I haven’t met a single person who enjoys waiting. I am convinced that patience is one of the hardest fruits of the Holy Spirit to integrate into our lives. We live in a world full of microwaves, text messaging, and fast food, and I’ll admit that I have a difficult time sitting still and waiting for anything. We want things NOW. The God of the Bible, however, does not fit into the mold of NOW. To Him, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousands years are like one day. He is perfectly capable of giving us what we want when we want it, but just because He is capable doesn’t mean He will do it. And that doesn’t mean that He is not good or that He doesn’t love us. In fact, it means exactly the opposite.
God isn’t a vending machine. We can’t view our relationships with Him like a mathematic formula:
[Prayer + Bargaining + Crying + Impatience = whatever we want from God.]
There are several flaws in this train of thought. First of all, if that’s truly what God’s nature is *supposed* to be like, that’s a completely different god than the One I surrendered my life to. The God I follow is the one with the power in the relationship, not me. He doesn’t bend to my will; I bend to His. Second, if God really was like that, we wouldn’t have much need for Him, right? A relationship wouldn’t be necessary or possible, because the only time we would talk to Him would be if we wanted something. Third, consider parenthood. Is someone really a good parent if they just give their kids whatever they want all the time? The kid might think so! But I think most of us would agree that this is not a good parenting strategy. Kids don’t actually know what they want a lot of the time, or they don’t realize that what they want is dangerous or not good for them. In our relationships with the Lord, we are the kids who either don’t know what we really want OR want something that would be harmful for us, and God is the good Father who – in perfect love – does not always give us exactly what we ask for, but cares for us and provides everything we need.
When we pray, God answers our prayers in one of three ways: yes, no, and wait. Waiting forces us to slow down. It makes us think about what we’re asking for and whether or not we really want it. Waiting is also one way God draws us closer to Him when we choose to trust Him even though we aren’t sure what’s going to happen next. Learning to wait patiently is a sign of maturity – as I mentioned before, it’s one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and living proof that God is transforming our lives! It takes hard work to develop, but most valuable things do.
I want to leave you with one final thing to think about today, for wherever you are in your own wait. Have you ever thought about how many people in the Bible had to wait for something? Jacob waited for his wife for 14 years after he met her. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and many others waited for a baby, and Sarah in particular turned 90 years old before God gave her Isaac. The Israelites waited for 40 years for God to lead them into the Promised Land. David waited to become king, spending at least 15 more years in the pasture as a shepherd after he was anointed by Samuel. There are countless other examples, but my point is that although many of those waits lasted for decades, God was never late, and every single one of His promises was fulfilled at exactly the right time in history. We can take encouragement from these true stories of God’s faithfulness and know that as He was faithful to those early believers, He will be just as faithful to us.
“Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting
Hold unto your hope, as your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing, He’s never failing”
— chorus from “Take Courage” by Bethel Music
“I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good.”
— Psalm 52:8-9 (ESV)