I don’t know about you, but I have never enjoyed waiting for much of anything in my life.
I wish I could say I am a really good “wait-er,” but the sad truth is, I’m not.
Typically, I want what I want when I want it.
Waiting is tough for me. It just is.
And I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. In fact, I’m quite sure that for most people I know, they too would say they struggle with waiting.
What about you?
Of course, our culture sure doesn’t help with this. As Jade Mazarin writes,
“We want everything done quickly — and new devices constantly spring up to meet those demands and encourage our impatience. We are not used to waiting, and the more our technology caters to our immediate desires, the less we feel willing to wait. Such is our dilemma as Christians. While society makes every attempt to make our life easier and faster, God works on a very different timetable. In his mind, nothing is wrong with waiting. In fact, waiting can actually be a positive good that he often uses to make us more like his Son.”
So often in our lives, God doesn’t answer our questions and concerns or deal with tough situations as quickly as we want Him to. And as a result, we are often forced to wait.
To wait on the Lord.
Each of us have something we’re waiting for the Lord to do in our lives. We’re waiting for Him…
To heal a child.
To bring a spouse.
To save a wandering friend or family member.
To repair a once-treasured, now shattered relationship.
To give us peace in the midst of uncertainty.
To show us the way He wants us to go.
Whatever it may be, each of us have something we’re waiting for the Lord to do in our lives.
The question is: How well are we waiting?
In other words, for those of us who struggle with waiting, specifically waiting on the Lord and His timing, what does it look like for us to wait well?
As with everything else in life, this is where we go to the Word of God to find help. Let’s consider four biblical ingredients to waiting on God well.
#1. We wait on God faithfully.
I’ve heard it said that there are two primary ways most of us wait on God.
The first is a fearful, skeptical, doubtful waiting that looks like this: We’re not sure if He is actually going to come through. We worry that He is like a parent who forgets to pick up their kid after basketball practice. We really want God to help us, to guide us, to deliver us, but what if he doesn’t? This kind of fearful, skeptical, doubtful waiting dishonors the Lord and leads us to trust in ourselves rather than God.
The second is a faith-filled, Bible-trusting, Christ-focused waiting that looks like this: We’re not sure HOW God is going to come through, but we believe He will! We believe that in His perfect timing He will bring clarity out of the confusion and the chaos. And we believe He will do this because of His character. We trust in His character, in who He is. We know He is infinitely good and faithful and He will deliver us, even if we don’t know exactly when or how that deliverance will come.
This kind of waiting holds tightly to the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
When we wait on the Lord in faith, we make a conscious effort to reject our own understanding.
Listen, God knows everything that’s happening in our lives and He knows exactly what He will do. He calls us to wait on Him in a way that is characterized by faith in His character. This kind of waiting honors Him!
#2: We wait on God prayerfully.
Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.”
While we wait on God, we are to be persistent in prayer. To seek His face continually through our season of waiting. We are to pour out our heart to Him. To bring our fears and our doubts, our hopes and our desires to Him.
The Lord wants intimacy with you and with me in our times of waiting. For this reason, we must seek His face through persistent prayer as we wait.
#3: We wait on God patiently.
David says in Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” This is a wonderful truth! Here is our problem…
We like things to happen on our timeline, according to our timeframe.
Here’s the problem with that. Waiting on the Lord WELL takes patience. It just does.
Waiting on the Lord well means we don’t try and take the situation into our own hands.
We don’t give up on God and try to find someone or something else that can fix our situation more quickly.
It means we wait patiently on God, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, trusting that the Lord will deliver us in His perfect timing.
Here is the thing about waiting on God. When we are waiting on God there is actually something happening while nothing is happening.
While nothing is happening, God is very much at work.
The Lord is working to change and transform us for His glory.
#4: We wait on God dependently.
When we look at Scripture, we see many godly men and women who learned to wait on the Lord well. One of these is the Apostle Paul.
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul writes about his “thorn in the flesh.” Now, we don’t know exactly what this “thorn in the flesh” was – probably a physical, emotional, or spiritual affliction of some kind - the Scriptures never tell us. But whatever it was, it was bad.
He says this about it in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
The Scriptures give no indication that the Lord ever removed the thorn from Paul, but what we do know is that he was radically dependent on the grace of God as He waited for the Lord to take it from him.
Stephen Altrogge writes, “Paul’s thorn forced him to throw his entire weight on God’s sustaining grace and power. That was the only way he could survive. The same is true for us. The only way we can survive in our waiting is to throw ourselves fully on God. We are completely and totally dependent on him. If we don’t wait dependently on the Lord, we end up bitter, dried up, and hopeless. The only way to survive the long dark is to cling to Christ, the true light. We wait for the Lord dependently, relying on his power and not our own.”
Listen to this line again: “The only way to survive the long dark is to cling to Christ, the true light.”
While we may not understand everything God is up to as we wait on Him, one thing we can bank on as Christians is this:
We are secure in Jesus Christ, the sovereign God and Savior of the world. He is the one we can cling to no matter what trials come our way in life. More than this, He clings to us.
He clings to us because we are His.
Listen to the words of Jesus, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)
Christian, as you wait on God, cling to Christ!
Cling to Christ as He clings to you!
This is the key to waiting well.