Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psa. 27:14, NIV)
I don’t like waiting. Whether for a divine promise or a human verdict, I like to see or experience the things I am expecting as soon as I am aware they are on the way. Waiting often feels like a waste of time and emotion. The object of our waiting dwells in our thoughts and stirs our emotions, filling us with longing and desire. Waiting can even make us anxious especially when we are not assured of outcomes. But we all have to wait, at one time or another. Waiting is not just a part of our human experience; it is also a tool God uses to build our character as believers. So we all need to learn how to wait, and also how to make our waiting seasons count for God’s glory and our good. We should note here that no one waits for what they have the power to do or get; we only wait for things beyond our ability.
Waiting is associated with hope. When we hope for something, we have to wait for it because we do not yet have it. That raises two questions. One: what is the basis of our hope? Two: how we do wait for the things we hope for? The basis of our hope can be our desires, people’s promises, or God’s promises. If we hope for something on the basis of our desires or people’s promises, we have no guarantee that our hopes will materialize, and our waiting may be in vain. But if we hope on God’s promises to us, we have an assurance that it will come to pass. Every other thing for which we hope and wait has to be with caution. People may be willing but unable. We may desire but circumstances may not line up as we wish. God, however, is both able and willing to perform His promises. We only need to wait for Him.
So, how do we wait? We wait with patience. Paul tells us in Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”. Patience is a virtue God develops in us through seasons of waiting. We all need to learn patience in becoming like God. But patience does not come to many of us naturally. In seasons of waiting, God helps us to keep our eyes on Him and not grow anxious or restless while we wait. This helps us to develop the attribute of patience and apply it in the future. When we develop patience as part of our character, we no longer rush to actions or conclusions but always take time to gain understanding before we act so that we can act with wisdom and precision. However, if we are restless while we wait, we may get what we hope for but God’s purpose in building our character is thwarted or deferred till another season of life.
A season of waiting also builds our faith in God. When we have to wait, we often question why we got on to the path of waiting for what we now look forward to. If this reminds us of a divine promise that initiated our hope and on which our faith stands, then we cling more closely to that promise while we wait. We see this when Abraham waited for the promise of a son from God. Every time he recalled God’s promise, he gave glory to God for the promise that would be manifested (Romans 4:20-21), not doubting God’s ability. Waiting gives us the opportunity to reaffirm our faith while we have not yet seen what we hope for. This is what makes faith strong – the ability to stand and continue to hold fast onto God for a long time even when physical conditions contradict what we believe and hope for.
Waiting is never fun, but it builds us up. We learn patience and build up our faith as we trust in God through seasons of waiting. With thanksgiving to God and steadfastness of heart, we demonstrate our conviction that God can do what He promises, and He always honors our faith by bringing to pass the promise for which we fervently waited. So again I say to you who are reading: wait for the Lord!