I have a dear friend who came to Christ later in life. Recently she told me she often prays, “Thank you Lord for being so patient and waiting for me.” How beautiful! I can pray that prayer too! How about you? God is so patient with us, but how good are we at waiting for him?
Sometimes we wait with hopeful anticipation like David who wrote,
“5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
…I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5–6)
But many times, waiting just wears us out. David wrote in another place,
“3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.” (Psalm 69:3)
Waiting is filled with fears and expectations, but one thing remains true, we don’t usually wait well.
Sometimes God gives us special promises to sustain us while we wait. He gave Abraham and Sarah the promise of a child. They waited for 25 years for their son, but at least they had a promise to hold on to. We also have promises that give us hope in the waiting rooms of life. We are forgiven (1 John 1:9). Jesus will return (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Heaven is our home (Phil. 3:20).
But many times, we wait with no assurance the waiting will ever end. Hannah prayed year after year for a child without any promise she would have one. Paul languished in prison without any confidence of his release. When your dreams aren’t fulfilled and your suffering endures beyond expectation, how do you wait when you have no specific promise it will end?
First, we must silence Satan’s lie that waiting is a sign of God’s displeasure with us. The vast majority of “waiters” in the Bible were not being punished for their wickedness but prepared for God’s service and glory. Waiting is one of God’s best ways of developing our faith. Now, the marble may dislike the chisel, but without its blows there can be no beauty. Similarly, without waiting our faith withers and a platform for God’s glory is dismantled.
Days of delay act like a magnet drawing us to trust in the Lord. They strip away the illusion of our self-sufficiency to reveal our constant dependence on the Lord. Then we find he alone is trustworthy.
13 I believe that I shall look upon
the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:13–14)
Waiting can leave us worn out as we feverishly trust in our ingenuity and strength. Or, we can trust in the Lord’s loving ways and “be strong and let our hearts take courage” (Isa. 40:28-31).
Now, in exasperation we might think, “What else can I do? I have to wait on God.” No. You can choose your own methods and timing (1 Sam. 13), but the waiting reveals who we really believe in. Waiting is a form of trusting.
When we learn to trust the Lord, even with our delays, he can form his character within us. After all, patience is an attribute of God. So how can we learn patience without waiting? When the object of patience is realized it creates the peaceful certainty of hope! Therefore, Paul wrote,
“3 We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4).
Days in the waiting room of faith can also realign our desires. How thankful I am that God did not give me everything I wanted the moment I wanted it! Many of those longings were selfish, short-sighted, even sinful. In his waiting room he shows me what really matters.
But, be careful. Satan is in the waiting room with you. He shows you the magazines, blogs and posts of people who have what you are waiting for, and you’ll be tempted to be jealous, resentful and bitter. “It’s not fair!” you’ll shout. Don’t be fooled. Waiting tends to focus you on that one little area you think is missing, and you’ll fail to see all the grace of God that is poured out on you every day! When you are stuck in the waiting room of life, lay down the resentments and focus on the music of God’s constant mercy (Lam. 3:22-23).
I went the airport and discovered my flight was delayed. I hadn’t seen home for days. I was tired. I dreaded the wait. Just then I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. We talked and laughed and somehow the time just flew by.
It’s not healthy to wait alone. Draw confidence and technique from the “waiters” in the Bible. Call a friend and ask them to wait in prayer with you. No matter what, remember you don’t wait alone! We are tempted to think we are the only ones in God’s waiting room, but it’s full! Time will go more quickly if we wait together.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:20–22)
“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14)