Why Does God Make Us Wait?
Raise your hand if you’ve got patience nailed and you just love waiting for things!
What’s that? Crickets?
Patience may be a fruit of the Spirit, but I think we consider it more of a “have to” than a “get to”. Nobody really wants to be patient.
I was once told (jokingly) that you should never pray for more patience, because God won’t send you more patience – He’ll send you more situations to test your patience. Well, that’s not very fair.
Unfortunately for us, waiting is just a part of life (whether we’re patient or not). We don’t have a very good outlook on “waiting”.
Waiting is tedious and boring.
“Waiting” conjures up images of waiting rooms - a doctor’s office or an airport gate. You sit there twiddling your thumbs, wasting time, waiting for your name to be called.
You wait for someone else to do something so you can get moving along.
“Waiting” is empty space where nothing happens. Nothing can happen. The point of waiting is that when you’re done waiting something will happen.
What if I told you that’s all wrong?
What’s the Point of Waiting?
What if I told you that half the point of waiting is the waiting itself (not just what happens after)? That our view of waiting as empty space isn’t right?
If the point of waiting was just to reach the end of waiting and get what you want...then there’s really no purpose in waiting. Why wait? Just skip to the end! But waiting is a thing that happens. A lot.
So what’s the real point of waiting?
Something has to be going on during our seasons of waiting. Waiting has a purpose.
Even God Waits
The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” – Jeremiah 1:11-12 NIV
Fun fact: the Hebrew words used for “almond” and “watch” sound similar – just a little Hebrew word play for you.
The Hebrew word for “watch” used here is “shaqad”. Shaqad means to watch, be alert, or keep watch over. This is an active watch, a soldier watching out for his company, being alert to threats, being prepared for anything. Not a mindless vegged out Netflix binge “watch”.
In the Bible, God says a lot of things. Sometimes those things come to be instantly (see Genesis, where He simply spoke the world into being). And some of those things take a few (hundred) years to come about.
Sometimes God has to wait for His own words to be fulfilled.
But it’s not a passive, empty space of waiting.
God says He is watching and waiting for his words to be fulfilled. He doesn’t just say something and then go, “Well, it’ll happen eventually, now. We’ll just have to wait and see,” and then sit back and wait for something to happen, who knows when.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
– Romans 5:6 NIV
God knows exactly when His words will come to pass. He totally could always make that time be instant. He could wait to say anything until the moment before it happens. He could eliminate waiting for us.
But He doesn’t. Why?
God is at work in the waiting.
Why God Makes Us Wait
The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. – Luke 3:15 NIV
There are lots of examples of God making people wait in the Bible. Abraham, Joseph, Moses. He promised something good was coming, but didn’t say how or when.
Well, that’s kind of annoying.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that the BIGGEST wait in the Bible, in length of time and size of the promise, was the wait for the Messiah. From the time of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 to the arrival of Jesus, about 700 years passed. And that wasn’t even the first prophecy (think Genesis 3:15). And not only that, there was 400 years of silence between God’s last words to the Israelites and Jesus’ coming.
Waiting is hard enough, but waiting with no word on how things are going?
But even so, with all those years, all those generations of silence, the people were still “waiting expectantly”. Not just sitting around, thumb twiddling, bored, forgetting they were even waiting for something.
They were waiting expectantly.
What does waiting expectantly look like?
Okay, let’s say you have tickets for your most favourite band in the world! (My friend recently got to see the Backstreet Boys in Las Vegas, something she’s been waiting for her whole life!) We’re talking the HUGEST levels of excitement! You grew up with this band, their music got you through a lot of stuff, you know every single song by heart, you admire all the band members – and you get to see them LIVE. Not only that, but you have a backstage pass! You’re going to meet the band!
So, this concert is still a few months away. Obviously, you forget about it. You don’t tell any of your friends. You largely try not to think about it.
You are bouncing off the freaking walls! You tell your family, your friends, even some random strangers on the street! You practice all the songs again, just to make sure you really know them (for when you get called up on stage to join the band, of course). You pick out a special outfit. You rehearse your speech for when you meet them so you don’t clam up or pass out. YOU. ARE. READY.
Waiting expectantly is looking forward to that moment of fulfillment. It’s spending that time getting ready, doing everything we can to be prepared for when the time comes.
Okay, so we know that waiting is kind of a necessity of life. We know how to wait. But why?? Why do we have to wait?
If God makes us wait, there must be a reason. So what is it?
1) Preparing for what’s coming
Sometimes the thing hasn’t come yet, because you’re not ready. We can use our seasons of waiting to prepare as best as we can for what’s coming.
2) Experiencing a period of growth
Growing is a part of preparing. But instead of just preparing the things around you, this is about preparing yourself. Learn and grow as much as you can, so you’re ready for when the promise comes.
3) Waiting for the right time
This sounds a little vague...probably because it is. But God chooses the right time, not us, and He has His own criteria for that. So, whatever you’re waiting for, you can trust God that the right time hasn’t come yet.
(If the right time hasn’t come, that doesn’t mean you haven’t grown enough or you’re not prepared yet. Only God knows the reasons for the right time. Don’t blame yourself for a delayed fulfillment, just use the time you have to prepare and grow.)
4) Keeping our focus on the promise
We need to wait expectantly. We should never focus on God’s promises over God himself, but as long as our main focus is the right place, it’s okay to be working towards that promise. When we have the end goal in mind, we know what we’re working towards and preparing for. We remember the great things God has said and already done. And we recognize the promise when it is fulfilled!
5) God is with us in the waiting
I think a little bit of the reason God makes us wait, is so that He can wait with us. He is helping us prepare and grow. He is speaking encouragement to us. And He is just as excited (probably more so) when His words are finally fulfilled! When we draw close to God in the seasons of waiting, it doesn’t matter how long we have to wait. If we grow in our relationship with God, the wait is worth it.
Waiting is hard, no matter who you are, and what you’re waiting for. We don’t like feeling stuck in seasons of waiting. But waiting doesn’t have to be just empty space of nothing until something happens. God uses seasons of waiting to prepare us for what’s coming, to draw us closer to Him, and to make sure His promises are fulfilled at the proper time.
What do you hate waiting for the most? What’s something that was totally worth the wait for you?
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