Have you been in a hurry to be somewhere only to find yourself waiting at a traffic light that wouldn’t show the sign needed for you to go, either as a pedestrian or driver? All the while the road seems quiet and no one is crossing or no car is coming. And even though it really only takes a matter of minutes, you start to feel tense and anxious, wondering how long this could possibly take.
These signs at the traffic light all carry a notion that is despised and frowned upon by every generation, and perhaps no more so our generations: WAIT!!! From the fast food restaurant to the technological advancement of our time, the word wait is being slowly erased from our vocabulary and the very structure of society. Most people don’t like to wait. We often get frustrated waiting on fast food or waiting behind the slow car in the fast lane. We are always in a rush to get to the next place or the next thing.
This mindset often carries over into our spiritual lives with us rushing to the next big thing. But while most of us are in a hurry, it seems God is usually not in a hurry. The Scriptures shows that God cannot be coerced into doing things according to our own timing. He is slow at going about things. It seems He always has a plan and a purpose for everything.
Perhaps our problem with waiting stems from the fact that we don’t have all the details. We are accustomed to having all the details figured out and bringing them to God to give a divine approval to them, even according to our timeframe.But God rarely does things according to our timeframe, and because of this we can easily get discouraged. Some of us have even perhaps thought of Him as uncaring or mad at us.
However, biblical witness shows that part of and one of God’s tool for developing His people. Take the Gospel account of John where Mary and Martha had to wait on Jesus to come and heal their brother, Lazarus. Jesus was not moved by the perceived need to Mary and Martha but by the purpose and counsel of God. When Jesus finally shows up, He is accused of taking too long.
God always has good reasons for making us wait. The Bible is full of stories of people having to wait on God, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Jesus, Paul and countless others. And because cause His purpose to work according to the counsel of His will, not waiting may lead to us contend against God. Are we stronger than He? Or do we charge Him with wrong because He loves us and does what is right even when to us it appears wrong?
Two things may characterise the primary reasons why the Lord makes us wait: patience and character.
Waiting Builds Patience In Our Lives
Patience in waiting for small things leads to having patience in the bigger things. If we can’t wait for God to do a small thing, we certainly can’t wait for something bigger.
Our problem is our perspective is usually wrong. We tend to think the bigger things in life are finances and possessions, while God thinks influencing and changing people is more important. This is sometimes a reflection of our wrong motives. The Lord may deal a great blow to our wrong motives by making us wait; thus we learn patience.
Waiting Transforms Our Character
Waiting has a way of rubbing off the rough edges of our lives. Most of us know the story of Moses delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians. It’s a grand story of God doing great miracles.
But it is easy to overlook the fact that Moses had to wait in the desert 40 years before God came to him. God used this time of waiting to transform his character (Romans 5:4). Moses was brash and impatient as a young man. In his impetuousness he killed a man and hid the body. When his sin was made public, he ran for his life and was exiled to the desert. When he was given a second chance he opted to do it God’s way and in God’s time.
Our unwillingness to wait on the Lord may be the fruit springing from the seed of lack of trust in God. It could also be our arrogance and pride like the prodigal son who wants his inheritance only to spend it lavishly (Luke 15:11:14).
The Lord is always ready to forgive us when we have rushed ahead of Him (Luke 15:21-22); but we must learn like Moses to trust His way and His time.
Reflections: Psalm 37:7, 34; Isaiah 25:9; Lamentations 3:26; John 11: 1-42