What Are You Waiting For?
“And now, Lord, for what do I expectantly wait? My hope [my confident expectation] is in You.
Throughout the Bible, we see many examples of waiting on God. We see Abraham waiting on God to bless him with a son. We see the nation of Israel waiting for someone to deliver them from slavery in Egypt, then waiting for hundreds of years for the promised Savior. In the New Testament, we see the disciples waiting for qJesus to become King ( they didn’t understand that He had to die first), and we see the church waiting for Christ to return. Waiting, it appears, is an integral part of God’s design for our lives.
Why, then, do we hate waiting so much? Waiting requires us to trust in the unseen, to be assured that the invisible God will accomplish something good in the physical world. And we have to trust that He will do it when He’s ready, not when we want Him to do it. Waiting demands trust, and we’d much rather have our blessings right now, thank you.
As we wait, God purifies and refocuses our hearts. We may have longed for a particular answer from God; however, as He delays His Spirit works deep in us to change our desires. Our hope may have been in a particular person, a promotion, or a pleasure, but in the crucible of waiting, God shifts our hearts attention to Him so that we desire to know Him above all else. Then we can say with David, “Lord, my hope is in You!”
Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.
Of all the things that God asks us to do, waiting often is the most difficult. Yet it is in waiting that God builds our character. What we do while we wait is critical. We can choose to pace the floor; to choose to be frustrated or even angry that things aren’t happening on our time line. We may even try to take matters in our own hands and try to work them out. Some might choose to abandon hope especially after a long wait. We can, however, take the advantage of time while we wait to learn more of God. What makes waiting difficult is trust. For example, if someone has promised to meet us at a certain time and they aren’t there at the designated time, how we wait will depend on what we know about that person. If they have a track record of keeping their word and appointments, our wait will be less frustrating. We know if they’re late it’s because of circumstances beyond their control and they will be here as soon as it is possible. On the other hand, if they have a track record of always being late or even missing appointments, our wait time becomes a time of anxiety, frustration and perhaps anger.
One of the things we know about God is that He always keeps His promise and if for some reason the promise is delayed, we still rest in our trust in Him. What waiting reveals is relationship especially the relationship of trust. Our actions while we wait is critical. Sometimes those who are being required to wait make terrible decisions. For example, we read that while Abraham was waiting for the promised son, he decided to move things along and have a son by Hagar. Although that decision didn’t keep the promise from coming to pass, it brought heartache and strife to the immediate family and eventually two nations of people that were in constant conflict even to this very day. As the Israelites waited for God to lead them into the Promised Land, their conduct left a lot to be desired. They responded to waiting with complaining, rebellion, anger against Moses and God, even creating an idol to worship. Sadly when God was ready to move, they weren’t for they still wanted God to move on their own time schedule. Although the Jews had been given the promise of the Messiah, by the time Jesus came, they had for all practical purposes given up on the promise. Somewhere in the wait, the promise became more of a myth than an expected reality. Although they had been given many specific prophecies, they failed to notice that the little baby born in Bethlehem was the promised Messiah.
The Bible records that when Jesus was preparing to ascend back to heaven, He was questioned by the disciples. What they wanted to know was whether their wait was over and they would see the kingdom of God restored on earth. What Jesus said is important for us too. He told them and us in essence to trust God with the timetable. In due season Christ would come again. Meanwhile, they were to be busy spreading the message of the gospel to the whole world. We can be like Abraham and in our impatience try to create our own plan. We can be like the Israelites and spend the time frustrated and angry and with a bad attitude and then miss the moment when God moves. Or we can choose to respond as David responded in Psalm 39: “Lord, my hope is in You!”
I realize that many people are anxiously waiting for the pandemic to end. They want so desperately for things to return to the pre-pandemic world. Conveniently they have forgotten that that world was filled with challenges and stress too. Sometimes when I hear people longing to return to the old norm, I want to say to them, “Do you really believe that it was a great as you now think it was?” We can allow our impatience to frustrate us. We can miss all the opportunities that God is providing us in the midst of the pandemic. We can be so focused on our “losses” that we can’t see our opportunities. We can respond with anger, we can seek to place blame on others for our situation. We can choose to walk away from our faith, the church, life. We can choose to withdraw until things return to our expected norms. We can waste a lot of time pushing against an immovable wall. Or we can choose to spend our time seeking God, perhaps discovering plans He has that we’ve never considered. We can choose to stay in Egypt where we are comfortable with our norms, even though it’s slavery, or we can choose to boldly start a journey with God and to follow where He leads.
When asked about when or if we will ever return to “normal” my response for some is scary for I say, “I don’t know!” We all want to know the details of the expected future so it’s hard to accept that none of us really know what lies ahead. What we do know is that the God who has brought us and kept us thus far is also the same God who is planning our future. While we wait, let us learn to trust in God. Let us learn to trust Him beyond mere words. Let us learn to trust Him fully with all our being and to know that if He has us waiting it’s because He is working something more wondrous. Life may never be that same but if our hope is in God, life will be good.
Dr. John Thompson