When we were children, I remember summer took forever to arrive. My friends and I looked forward to it with such anticipation and excitement that when it finally arrived, it made it all the more enjoyable and memorable. However, even though we knew the routine year after year with the timing, the waiting-for-summer part never got easier. Every school year it was the same struggle of being patient and waiting for that time when we would be off from school and enjoy our beautiful summers with each other riding bikes early morning, playing our favorite games and my favorite- sitting around for hours having life-altering conversations. Those summers make up some of my best childhood memories.
Waiting is never easy, and, by definition, implies allowing for a passage of time before something happens. Nobody likes to wait. Just take a minute to think of waiting in traffic, at a doctor’s office, or in a hospital waiting room. Waiting is difficult and takes patience (which is a fruit of the Spirit) and when we have been waiting on God for something that our heart really desires, it often is so difficult and takes drifting through times of doubts and frustrations. Sometimes we just want to give up. After all, we have a lot of “what if’s?” to wade through in our minds. What if this isn’t meant to be? What if God doesn’t grant me the desires of my heart? What if ____ never happens? (You fill in the blank).
Regardless of how long we have been waiting, if it were up to us we would rather not wait for what we want, am I right?
We find, however, for those who love God, there are 3 benefits to waiting on God:
- In waiting, we are hopeful
God instructs us to wait on Him. He also says it is good to wait on Him for we are waiting in hope (Lam 3:26). We do not wait in vain. This hope we have isn’t a wishful-thinking-kind-of-worldly-hope but assurance that what He has said will come to be, without a doubt. Abraham is a great example of this. Waiting on God’s promises for Isaac who was promised to him and Sarah is something that happened over a span of 25 years. I believe Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead if need be, because Abraham knew he could count on God’s promises even when God had asked Abraham to offer up Isaac to Him as a sacrifice. We wait knowing that God truly works all things for our good because we love Him. This “all” includes each and every life’s circumstance or situation we go through has God’s great purposes that are being worked in us as we go through them. We can trust His ways are perfect and flawless. We truly experience this to its greatest extent when we live in complete obedience to Him.
2. In waiting, we grow in prayer and faith
God instructs us, in the waiting, to pray and not give up (Luke 18:1). Prayer draws us closer to God and forces us to rely entirely on Him and not dwell on our own circumstances. When we pray, we are forced to take our eyes off of ourselves and place them on God, where they belong. Prayer grows us in our faith.
I recall the account of Joseph in prison. Even though I don’t recall a specific verse that says anything about Joseph complaining about his situation, I can’t help but wonder if he ever did. It would only be human. After all, he had been unjustly accused. There was nothing fair or right about the situation so he would have every right to be upset with God, wouldn’t he? Yet, in the end, we see Joseph’s conclusion tells us the lessons he had learned in the 13 years of “waiting.” I can only imagine the countless times Joseph cried out to God in the waiting. However, he learned during this time, that what his brothers intended for evil, God used for good (Genesis 50:20) What a precious lesson! In this time of waiting and suffering, He had learned to draw nearer to God and to value what God valued. He learned to see his situation from God’s point of view and how God used his horrible situation to bring good to so many!
I also recall the account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to bow down to false gods and idols. Despite knowing they faced being cast into the blazing fire, they knew God would be able to deliver them. I clearly recall these six words though “But even if He does not.” Faith took the place of fear. They had determined they would follow God even if He chose not to deliver them. Why did they have such assurance of faith? Because they knew in whom they believed. They had such peace despite the circumstances knowing their lives belonged to God who created them for His glory, in life and in death.
Can we say we will follow God “even if he does not” grant us what we want? It isn’t about what we want or desire as much as it is about following God no matter what the cost. The best part of the story? God delivers them and even raises them up to a prominent position and in the end, God gets the glory. Why? Because they obeyed him and were willing to follow Him even to the point of death, for they knew their lives belonged to God.
3. In waiting, we learn to rest or be still while being perfected
Despite knowing the sovereignty of God, patience and waiting still are always such challenging things for us. We know in our minds that God’s ways are nothing short of perfect. Scripture assures us of this time and time again. Despite this, we find ourselves struggling in ways we can’t quite completely understand. God assures us of renewed strength, in the waiting (Isaiah 40:31).
In Psalm 62:5, we are told to patiently wait for God alone.
No matter what we are waiting for, beloved, wait in confidence; confidence in God our creator, His wisdom, His ways, His perfect track record in the way He, our Ebenezer, has thus far led us, knowing that in the waiting He is perfecting something greater in us!
Let us wait in prayer, in restful and hopeful assurance knowing that we are becoming more like Christ Jesus while we wait. After all, Christ is the goal and He surpasses any earthly desire we will ever have.