How good are you at waiting? Before you answer, I think that there are a couple of kinds of waiting.
One sort of waiting is where you are standing (or sitting) for something that should be imminent, but isn’t yet ready. You might be standing in a line at a store (or office) or sitting in a waiting room. Or, you might be at a restaurant, waiting for the food to arrive.
Based on a conversation when they were younger, my children used to call the appetizers at a restaurant “waiting food”. And, isn’t that accurate? While I’m sure that fancy restaurants have a more strategic plan for their early courses, I’m usually looking for something to quiet my hungry stomach…quickly!
The other type of waiting (although I admit that the difference from the first case is subtle) is where you know something will happen, but you don’t know when it will occur. Maybe you are waiting for feedback from a college acceptance board, or results from the doctor. Maybe you are hoping that a friend will call you one of these days, or that a problem will get better.
This is difficult, too. After all, why would online companies offer so many updates on the status of packages that are to be shipped to our house? Even the government (at least in my country) shows the status of tax refunds or other checks online.
Sometimes, though, we get too impatient and rush the process. (Abraham did that, for instance.) Like taking a cake out of the oven too early, we end up with a result that isn’t as good as what it could have been (although God is gracious, and still blesses us even when we rush things).
The fact is, waiting is difficult.
In light of that, consider this passage from the Psalms:
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
Psalms 27:14 NIV
Note that the Psalmist (David, in this case) doesn’t imply that waiting is easy or simple. He reminds himself to “be strong and take heart”. The challenge of waiting isn’t new to our century. Instead, it is part of the human condition. We are impatient and – in our selfishness – we want results right away.
It takes strength to wait, and the strength required is probably a function of what we are waiting for, and how important it is to us. I don’t worry too much about when the next envelope full of junk mail (or spam e-mail) will arrive, since I don’t care about it that much. I do watch the front porch for new technology that I’ve ordered, when I’m looking forward to using or installing it.
In that light, how much strength is required to wait for an answer from God? If you’re like me, we tend to pray to Him more about the big things (although we can talk with Him about anything). So, when we have asked God for direction in a major life decision, or for healing from a serious illness, or for help through a terrible season of life…well, those are some of the most difficult times to wait.
Since waiting takes strength, though, where do we get that strength? I think that David has alluded to that answer, one verse previous:
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Psalms 27:13 NIV
Our faith and trust in God help us to wait on Him. When we truly trust that He will work things out (see Romans 8:28), we gain strength to wait. When we consider the world from God’s perspective (that history is short in comparison to eternity, and that He loves human beings so much that He wants us to return to Him via the gift of salvation that He offers to us), waiting becomes more bearable.
David’s life also gives us an example when he had to deal with a situation where the outcome of his prayers and his waiting wasn’t what he had hoped (2 Samuel 12:15-23). This was a tough situation, involving difficult waiting and earnest prayer.
While we are waiting on His timeline, I think that God also gives us some more “tangible” help. He sometimes shows us how He is working. He can provide us with comfort in our pain. He offers discernment to others around us, who can help guide us in the right direction. And, I think that He – along with other believers – shares our burdens during these times.
So, I pray today that God will give you the strength to wait. Rushing His timeline usually creates problems, but He will be faithful to act in the best way at the best time.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.