We are an impatient people living in a microwave society. Through the advancement of modern technology and drive-through fast food restaurants, we have become accustomed to receiving everything at our fingertips within a matter of minutes. All of that leads us to never wanting to wait for anything and always desiring immediate results. We want to have what we are praying for right now and not a minute later. We want to see something right away in response to our evangelistic efforts. We want quick spiritual progress in our own lives and in the lives of those we are ministering to. (I am talking to myself here now as well.) But God very often chooses not to operate on our own time table . . . and this is a good thing.
Throughout history, God has kept His people waiting. For Abraham and Sarah, it was 25 years before the child that God had promised them finally arrived. Job waited in the midst of the pain and poor counsel of his so-called friends to hear from the Lord. Joseph found himself waiting through the pit, Potiphar’s house, and prison before coming to the palace where the dream that God had given him finally became a reality (Genesis 37-42:9). Hannah had to wait in tears for a son (1 Samuel 1:1-20). The people of Israel waited 4,000 years for their promised Messiah to deliver His people. In more modern times, missionaries William Carey and Adoniram Judson waited while faithfully ministering respectively in India and Burma before each saw even one convert! Jesus Himself continually waited until His time had come to be glorified by giving His life as a ransom for many (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23; 13:1). And numerous Scriptures call us to “wait upon the Lord.”
Now why is this hard task of waiting such a good thing? Because as Mary and Martha discovered when they waited for Jesus to arrive to heal their sick brother Lazarus, He always has a perfect purpose when He causes us to wait on Him (John 11). In that case, they thought that Jesus was four days late; waiting to come to them after Lazarus had already died. They knew that He could have easily healed him had He come sooner. But as the old Southern Gospel song rightfully put it, “When He’s four days late, He’s still on time.” Jesus had a greater purpose in keeping them waiting. That purpose was to glorify God in Himself being glorified (v. 4) in providing for them a visible demonstration of what it meant for Him to be “the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Something that they would not have experienced had Jesus not waited and arrived those four days earlier when they thought that He should. They would have missed coming to a greater understanding of who Jesus is and seeing God’s glory on display.
God’s expressed purpose for His children is to make them more like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8:29 states, “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” One of the ways that God brings about this conformation is through the times of waiting He has for us to go through. When you may think that God is doing nothing in your life at the moment as you’re waiting on Him to do something, He actually may be using the waiting itself to change you. God often does some of His greatest work in our lives while we are in a waiting season or period. It is in such times that He stretches our faith and teaches us what it really means to trust Him and to rely on the promises that He has given us in His Word. In such times, He seeks to help us “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Keep in mind as well that one of the fruit of the Spirit is “patience” (Galatians 5:22-23). And all of the fruit of the Spirit are characteristics of Jesus. We are most like Jesus when we are patient with God’s timing and patient with others. How can such a fruit be produced in our lives unless we are put in a position where it can be developed? We learn patience the best when having to wait. We become more like Jesus through having to wait. Through our waiting, we experience the goodness of God to bring us to a point to look to Him in trusted anticipation of what He will do, not only in delivering in what we may be waiting for from Him but even more so in the time of waiting itself.
So, don’t despair of the time of waiting you might find yourself in at the moment. Whatever you may be waiting on from the Lord. Instead, take a moment this minute to thank God for the work He is doing in your life right now through the waiting period. Even if you see no evidence of it. Ask Him to keep using it to make you more like Jesus.
Love in Christ,