Waiting is important, here's why
Tomorrow is the day we wait for a groundhog to tell us how much longer we will be cold. As a raging fan of summer, I’m putting my sun and sand dreams in the hand of a small rodent creature. Let the end of winter be near. Bring on spring.
We say this a lot. It’s time for __________ to be over. Let’s move on. It’s time for infertility or unemployment or singleness to end. Let’s move on to a different season. Yet, like the movie “Groundhog Day,” we wake up yet again in the same circumstances. Today feels just like yesterday.
Waiting Is Not New
For most of their history, the Israelites had heard God speak to them through prophets, who listened to what God would say then speak it to the people. Then, God went silent. For years and years — nearly 400 years, in fact — God said nothing. Generations passed. Parents taught their children to wait for the Lord to speak again. But each day must have seemed just like yesterday.
Just two months ago, we celebrated Advent, which commemorates the hundreds of years God’s people did not hear from Him until the perfect answer of Jesus came. Let that sink in — we celebrate a season of deep, hard waiting, of intense longing.
Still, waiting is hard. It is perhaps one of the hardest parts of being a Christian, especially in these days of immediacy and fingertip alerts. But waiting is built into the fabric of our faith. Jesus waited 33 years to begin His ministry. There are countless stories in the Bible of people waiting earnestly for a promise from God to be fulfilled.
When we find ourselves in the same place, how can we learn to wait well?
Waiting Is Refining
Maybe the best place to start is to settle in our hearts that we will always be waiting on something. As Christians, we believe we will not be complete until we have “fought the good fight and finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). God will always be working in us and on us.
If the Lord chooses to bring about the very thing we’ve been waiting for, He will set us on a new adventure. We will always be trusting Him for something. If we are single and we marry, we may be waiting and trusting for a child or a house. When we make peace with waiting, our hearts will be much less anxious.
The ways of the Lord are mysterious, but they are not cruel.
We may not understand why we can’t have a child just yet or why no employer will give our resume a second look. But whatever the reason our dreams have yet to come true, the Lord in His wisdom is working everything together for “the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).
God has a father’s heart toward His children, and good fathers say no to their children when what they want will harm them or when they are simply not ready to receive it. There will be days we need to remind ourselves of and trust in God’s character, especially when we cannot see His hand at work.
Remember God’s Past Faithfulness
Faith will no doubt be hard to muster up as we wait. Does God hear us? Does He care? On days we need to remember that God is not cruel and is still with us, think about the times when the Lord has been faithful in the past.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites fought a difficult, impossible battle against the much stronger Philistines. Day and night, the prophet Samuel earnestly prayed for victory (1 Samuel 7:7-10). The Lord intervened and Israel won. Samuel set up a stone as a memorial to the victory saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). What are your stones? Make a list of all the times the Lord has come through on your behalf and keep the list near. Remind yourself often of how God has worked in your life. The best predictor of God’s future work is His past faithfulness.
A period of two year unemployment just recently ended for me. I may never fully understand why it took so long to find work, but I can already see how I was changed — how my heart needed the wait to learn to trust more or to see a greater miracle than what I could imagine.
Much like Advent, when God does finally speak, the answer is so perfect we can look back on the time of waiting and longing and celebrate. There will be a day that doesn’t look like the one before. It may not look like what we think, but the answer will be perfect and we will celebrate the wait.