“It is good to wait quietly,” Jeremiah said (Lamentations 3:26a).
At the risk of sounding impudent, “What’s good about it?”
Waiting can make us feel anxious and stressed. If we’re waiting for a prayer to be answered or a scriptural promise to be fulfilled, we can become doubtful, discouraged, and despondent. Not good.
Yet the act of waiting seems important to God. Numerous times in the Bible we see people of faith who had to endure Wait Time:
- Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the birth of Isaac.
- Jacob waited 14 years to take Rachel as his bride.
- Joseph waited 13 years, first as a slave, then as a prisoner, before being rescued and elevated by God to second-in-command over Egypt.
- The Israelites waited through 400 years of slavery in Egypt before God’s miraculous intervention.
- Caleb waited 45 years to inherit his portion of the Promised Land.
- David waited at least 15 years to become king of Israel, after his anointing by Samuel.
- Simeon, Anna, and many other Jews waited for their Messiah.
God’s delays must serve a purpose. And a diligent search through scripture gives us answers to: What good can come from waiting?
- Times of waiting strengthen our trust in God and our resolve (Psalm 27:14). If every day was problem-free and blissful, surely our faith would remain shallow.
- We grow in our relationship with God while resting in his sovereignty and reliability (Psalm 62:5-8). The Almighty of the universe becomes our closest confidant. Intimacy with him deepens as we turn to him for comfort, encouragement, strength, and more.
- Spiritual maturity develops (James 1:2-4). Waiting is a challenge all by itself, but can also be accompanied by worry, pain, and sacrifice. The test of waiting, however, develops our patience and perseverance and gives us opportunity to grow in character. None of these benefits would blossom within us if God provided for every whim, and rescued from every trial.
- We learn to take joy in the blessings we already have. Paul wrote, “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) to a church experiencing persecution. They were undoubtedly praying and waiting for relief. But Paul knew that focusing on what Christ had already done for the believers, and the benefits they already enjoyed, would help offset their anxiety and frustration. The same is true for us.
- Others see our patience and trust while we wait (Psalm 40:1-4). Then, when God answers our cries, others take note of his provision, and their faith is encouraged.
It seems we’re always waiting for something; it’s only the intensity of emotion attached to the waiting that tends to vary. When that intensity begins to grow, perhaps it would help to say, “I’m waiting with great anticipation!”
There can be sweet delight in anticipation. For example, as the Christmas holidays approach, I anticipate the glorious homecoming of family members. I relish the imaginings of long conversations at the candle-lit dinner table, the hugs and laughter, and the gathering around the Christmas tree for family worship and gift-giving.
I need to apply that joy of anticipation to waiting on God. I can relish the fact that his plan – including the Wait Time — always includes positive aspects. I can reaffirm that God is always on time – never late, never early. I can generate excitement in my spirit by musing on God’s promises and looking forward to the creative, miraculous ways he will fulfill those promises. With an attitude of anticipation, waiting shouldn’t be nearly so uncomfortable.
(You have my permission to remind me of that, should impatience or frustration start to manifest themselves!)
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Heavenly Father, I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for the Wait Times in my life. Thank you for holding me back, so trust, intimacy, gratitude, patience, and spiritual maturity have a chance to grow. Help me to embrace the Wait Times as opportunities to discover more of who you are, more of the priceless treasures hidden in your Word, and more of who I can be when I am rooted and built up in you (Colossians 2:7)—especially through times of waiting.