The Hardest Word To Hear
Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord .
Waiting is incredibly difficult. Author and pastor Charles Swindoll says it’s the hardest thing Christians have to do. Because we live in an instant society; we’re not used to waiting for anything. But God uses the discipline of waiting to teach us lessons we can’t learn any other way.
Sometimes God puts the brakes on our plans because He wants to teach us an important lesson and He has to get our attention. Occasionally, God puts up a stop sign to keep us from going in a certain direction because He wants to redirect us. Quite often, we’re so sure we’re headed the right way that we won’t listen unless He stops us dead in our tracks. Of course, we sometimes need God to grab us and stop the runaway train of our lives because we’ve sinned and we need to repent.
Waiting can be especially difficult when it seems as if everything in our lives is stuck at a red light, but He may be preparing a person or a situation so that when we proceed again He can work even more powerfully.
To us waiting seems like a waste- or worse it feels like things will never be right again. When we have to wait, we shouldn’t just sit and fritter away the time. We should pursue God with all our hearts, try to determine the reason God wants us to wait, and trust His goodness and timing because He is, after all, God.
Though God take the sun out of heaven yet you must have patience.
In an instant gratification society, the idea that we must wait is an almost foreign concept. What we want, we want now and if it doesn’t happen on our time table, we often respond with rage or frustration. We’ve coined a phrase, “road rage” to describe those who are in such a hurry that anyone in their way becomes a target. In a few days there will be those who push their way through a crowd trying to be the first buyer for Black Friday sales. Irregardless of who they shove, elderly, crippled, children, the impatient rush to get what they want supersedes all other thought.
We as the church are certainly in a time of waiting. We are anxious to return to the old ways that were in place pre-pandemic. Our anxieties and frustrations over the wait have increased and often our response is at best unkind. Most of us would at least verbally acknowledge that God is in control of the universe and certainly in control of the church but we are sure that the real obstacles that are causing us to have to wait are of human origin.
But what if it’s God who has set us up to wait? What if God is moving us to a different status? What if God has other plans for His church and we haven’t been listening so He put the brakes on to give us time to seek and see new direction.
What if as an individual you are at a point in your life that you are waiting for things to happen? Perhaps you have made great plans, you have gathered resources and worked hard to make something happen only to find that at every turn there is an obstacle in the way. Could it be that God is trying to get your attention because He has something more or better than all you have planned? A dear friend of mine, several years ago, as I was expressing frustration over things not working out as I’d planned said, “When God closes a door, you can spend your time and energy kicking the door but it won’t open. Or you can spend your time looking for a window. When God closes a door look around, there is probably a window opened.” As I’ve worked to apply this, I’ve discovered that God has amazing things that had He not closed a door , I would have missed.
Waiting is a form of trust. Those who trust in the guiding of the Holy Spirit and in the care of God learn to wait quietly and patiently for God to move and to lead. As the disciple gathered around Jesus after the resurrection and just before the ascension, they asked how long must they wait before the kingdom of Israel was restored. The answer that Christ gave them is applicable to us.
So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
So the first thing that Jesus said was, “There are some things you don’t need to know.” Ouch! Those of us who wrestle with impatience want to know when things are going to change and all the details about how that’s going to come about. And to us Jesus says, “Everything, including timing is in the Father’s control.”
Now Jesus didn’t let them sit around and stew while they waited for He knew that idleness would make the wait seem longer and would become a breeding ground for sin to take root. If you read the story of Abraham, for example, you will find that in his impatience, he created a mess by having Ishmael as a son rather than waiting on Isaac to be given. I wonder how many struggles we have because of our impatience. I wonder what the outcome might have been if we had just waited on God instead of taking matters in our own hands. I think the devil lurks in the place of waiting, hoping to trap us with the temptation to take a short cut that he knows ends in devastation.
Jesus says to the disciples, “While you wait, get busy with My work, the work of witnessing about Me to the world.”
Perhaps that’s good advice to us as individuals. While we’re waiting for God to resolve our issues, maybe we ought to become engaged in the work of God. I’m sure it will make the wait time go by sooner and just maybe we might see the amazing results that God has intended all along. We might just get so busy enjoying working with God that we even forget about what we were waiting for.
Just maybe if the church would stop fretting about what can’t be done or experienced right now and begin to engage in the work of making disciples, it might just get so busy enjoying seeing God work in new and wonderful ways that it would lose its desire for all the old “norms.” I’m sure that when a baby discovers the new adventure of walking, it doesn’t dwell on the passing of crawling.
The Bible says that “those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” If somehow we can find grace to wait for God to move and direct our plans, I think I we might be surprised with all He has in store for us. If we choose to keep kicking the door all we’ll get is sore toes but if we look for a window we may just be able to fly.
Dr. John Thompson