The title says it all really.
Last week I was stuck in bed for a few days with the flu. And unsurprisingly it reminded me that I have a bit of a problem with waiting. Waiting to regain my strength, waiting to get back to work before it piled up, and waiting for 4 hours to pass so that I could take another Lemsip! Trivial examples, but I don’t have to look too deeply to find more serious things that I don’t want to wait for either!
It’s felt like I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual waiting recently too. And that feels even harder. As a church we’ve been waiting to hear from God and to make decisions about the future. And personally, I’m waiting for God to answer some prayers that I feel like I’ve been praying for a long time.
This blog post is the result of me exploring what God has said to us in his word about waiting – why we wait, what we wait for, and how we should go about waiting.
The Bible actually has a lot to say about this. It’s a subject with many facets, so forgive me for only scratching the surface.
Last week, I led a Bible study on the parable of The Persistent Widow (Luke 18). Right at the outset we are told that Jesus tells the parable to teach his followers that “they should always pray and not give up.”
In a fallen world we should expect to persist in prayer, persevere, and wait for many things. I don’t know what you’re waiting on God for – Maybe for guidance on an important decision, perhaps for a life partner or children, or for relief from a difficult situation.
Waiting can be worrying and uncomfortable, but instant gratification does nothing to help us grow. When we must wait, we must trust, and flexing our muscles of faith can only be a good thing for our strengthening and growth.
How can we, as God’s children, wait well?
Waiting sounds passive, but I believe that waiting on God should be active, for a number of reasons:
The Psalmist in Psalm 5:3 tells us that he lays his requests before God each morning, and then waits expectantly.
Psalm 130:5 reminds us where to find hope and help as we wait – “In his word I put my hope”
Psalm 37:34 exhorts us to: “Hope in the Lord and keep his way“. Continuing in obedience as we wait is important!
Hebrews tells us that we’re in an endurance race, not a sprint: Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Heb 12:1-2
But what should I say to my soul when the wait seems endless?
Lamentations 3 reminds me – in the context of enduring suffering – that the Lord is my portion as I wait. When I already have the main thing, I can afford to wait for everything else! And the certain goodness of God’s character infuses even my darkest periods of endurance with hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
Secondly, there is something ultimate that I wait for, a certain hope that outweighs anything else I might want. The glorious appearing of Jesus Christ! Romans 8:23 says that “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
I like to remind myself (get ready for the cheesiness) that although my wait seems endless, my end is not weightless!
One day Jesus will return in glory for his people – his bride! He will bring justice and peace, and satisfy all of our deepest longings eternally. It is easier to wait in the light of a certain guaranteed hope.
So as I gather myself up to keep on prayerfully waiting for the things I need or want in this life, I say with Micah (7:7) “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”
And the verse I’m trying to memorise this week is Psalm 130:5-7:
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.