“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psa. 27:14).
The half-joking prayer, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it RIGHT NOW,” isn’t too far removed from how we approach matters of spiritual growth and living out the will of God in our life. Life is full of waiting: waiting for your phone to charge; waiting in line at the grocery store; waiting in a traffic jam; waiting for a job; waiting for the right spouse; waiting for test results; waiting to be old enough to drive. Steve Farrar of Men’s Leadership Ministries says, “Waiting is like eating gravel. Nobody in their right mind wants or likes to do it.” Waiting is difficult.
The culture we live in is one that doesn’t like to wait. We like instant and fast everything—instant downloads, instant messaging, instant coffee, instant prints, fast-food restaurants, faster internet, fast phones. However, there are many times along our journey through life when God says, “Wait here.” And what looks like 15 minutes turns out to be 15 months, or even 15 years.
The Bible provides numerous examples of people who waited on the Lord. Abraham waited for decades to have the son that God promised him. Joseph had to wait in prison. Moses waited for 40 years on the backside of the desert, tending sheep, before leading the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. The Israelites then had to wait 40 years to enter the Promised Land. Simeon waited for the birth of the Messiah. Paul waited during his time of preparation in Arabia.
Waiting is a part of God’s plan and purpose in our lives, and resisting God’s timing and trying to get ahead of the Lord can have serious consequences. Abraham and Sarah found this out when they ran ahead of God, with Hagar bearing Ishmael instead of waiting on God’s promise. See in (Gen. 16).
God works while His people are waiting. Time is not wasted in God’s waiting room. Waiting on the Lord renews our strength (Isa. 40:31).
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.”
God often uses these times of waiting to prepare us for what lies ahead. Oswald Chambers writes, “We are apt to think that everything that happens to us is to be turned into useful teaching…We shall find that the spheres God brings us into are not meant to teach us something but to make us something.” In those waiting times, God both teaches and makes us something; in us He cultivates patience, Christlike character, and hope as we trust Him through those times. As we read in Romans 5:3-5a,
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Four things the Bible tells us to do while we wait on the Lord:
Do It With Courage
Waiting takes courage. As Christians, we don’t cower in fear over what may happen. The future may be uncertain, but we belong to the One who not only knows the future, He holds it in the palm of His hand! David phrased it this way in Psalm 27:14 (ESV):
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Stay in His Word
During times of waiting, we can be bombarded with advice that may sound good. It may even be what we want to hear. But if we’re not careful, we can be influenced by well-meaning advice that is not consistent with God’s Word. Use this time to soak in what God has said, both to be encouraged and to be prepared for whatever answer the Lord brings. As the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 130:5:
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”
Wait in Silence
This one can be difficult for me. During our times of waiting, it’s easy for us to make our request the topic of conversation in every conversation. We whine about our pain, complain about the injustice and throw ourselves pity parties. However, King David reminds us in Psalm 62:5
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share our concern and ask for prayer. But it does mean that once we do, we should spend our time seeking God’s heart, growing in quiet intimacy with Him.
Persevere in Your Waiting
This one can also be difficult if we’re in an extended time of waiting. During this time of waiting, do what the Lord has called you to do. Are you in ministry? Continue to serve. Are you working? Work heartily (Colossians 3:23). The prophet tells us in Hosea 12:6:
“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”
The answer will come. Still, it may not be the answer we want. That’s when we need to remember God is sovereign. Although our short-term circumstances might not appear so, He is always at work for our ultimate good and His eternal glory. As God’s children in Christ (John 1:12), we can rest in this assurance from the prophet Isaiah:
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him” (Isa. 64:4).
Source: Pastor Kevin Sadler, Ava Pennington