Learning How to Wait

The Lord is not slow about His promise.

First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!”… But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:3-5, 8-9

We live in a fast food society. There are many places now that have put time clocks at the order windows. If your food is there in less time than promised, you get a reward…a free meal, a coupon, something. We are not used to waiting.

The Lord wants us to learn how to wait, to wait on Him. There are some things about waiting that I need to learn. As I look at the many definitions of “wait ” in the dictionary, I see these:

  • to stay in place in expectation of
  • to remain stationary in readiness or expectation
  • to look forward expectantly

These are all things I need to learn.

First, when I wait, I learn to expect God to act. If He is going to act, then I am not going to act. I am going to wait on Him to act. That seems so simple, but the fact is, if God doesn’t do what I think He should do, then often I move ahead, doing it instead. And, of course, I only make a mess of things. In waiting for Him to act, I learn to live content in the situation itself (Phil. 4:11), trusting Him to make the changes He deems necessary at the time He deems right.

Second, when I wait, I learn to prepare for what God’s going to do, to make myself ready. Perhaps the change for which I’m praying hasn’t come because I’m not spiritually ready to receive it. Matthew 25 tells the parable of the ten virgins. Five were wise and used the time waiting for the bridegroom to prepare. Five were foolish and didn’t. Psalm 25:5 tells us:

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long. ” The time of waiting is also a time of teaching, for us a time of learning. If we are so busy focusing on what God hasn’t done, we waste this precious gift of learning time and then may not be ready when the promise appears.

Third, when I wait, I need to remember that my focus needs to be on the future, but not the future of tomorrow, but the future of eternity. Peter wrote in his first letter:

By his great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you . 1 Peter 1:3b-4 NRSV

Every promise of God leads but to that one encompassing promise, the promise of heaven. No other promise should deter us from that, no other promise is greater.

There is great wisdom in learning how to effectively wait on the Lord. There are also many promises about waiting:

  • Genesis 49:18: I wait for your salvation, O Lord.
  • Psalm 25:21: May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
  • Psalm 27:13-14: I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
  • Psalm 31:24: Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord.
  • Psalm 37:7: Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices.

To refuse to respond or act, to pray and wait, to have the courage to stand in the midst of the storm, to not fret … these are all the gifts we gain when we learn how to wait.