The Waiting Game
In an age where things are becoming more and more instantaneous, we are becoming more and more impatient. If we have a question, we can Google an answer on our phone. We have the ability to make video calls with people on the other side of the globe with virtually no delay. A two minute wait in line at the grocery store is nearly unforgivable. We do not like to wait.
God does not operate any faster today than He did at any other time, and we cannot rush God. Waiting on “God’s timing” can be frustrating and discouraging as we face the constant urge to rush our own lives. When things are not going our way, it can feel like all we are doing is waiting.
We wait to hear back from a potential employer on a new job. We wait for our doctors to come back with a medical diagnosis. We wait nine months for a child to be born. Our natural inclination during these periods of waiting is anxiety at the uncertainty they possess. Here are some things to consider the next time you are made to wait for something in your life.
Recognize God is in control. God has everything under control, even if you don't see how He's handling things. There is this great insight into God in Habakkuk 1:5 – “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”
The problems we face can seem huge to us, but remember that God is the God of everything and everyone. He not only is looking out for you, but for every soul on this planet. The plans and workings of God are intricate and immense, and on some level unknowable. Habakkuk could not really fathom why or how God would use the violent Chaldeans to accomplish His will. We also must recognize that even if we knew why certain things happened now, we still would fail to understand all that God intends for the world.
Eventually we must surrender our own need for understanding and place our full reliance on God. Habakkuk does this near the end of his book: “I hear and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones … Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble … Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines … yet I will rejoice in the LORD … He is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on high places.” (Habakkuk 3:16-19)
Because God makes you wait, does not mean He has abandoned you. God often makes his people wait, sometimes for long periods, before He finally fulfills promises to them, or uses them to accomplish His will. A few examples include:
Abraham had to wait twenty-five years between being promised to be the father of many nations, and the birth of Isaac. During that waiting period, Abraham had Ishmael with Hagar, apparently trying to hurry God’s promises along.
Joseph had to spend thirteen years as a slave and a prisoner before he assumed leadership in Egypt. Joseph even begged Pharaoh’s cupbearer to remember him after interpreting his dream, but Joseph still waited two additional years in prison.
Moses killed an Egyptian thinking “that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand” (Acts 7:25). But instead he had to flee and spent forty years as a shepherd in Midian before God called him to free His people from Egyptian bondage.
David was anointed king of Israel when he was only a child, but he did not take the throne until he was much older. At first he was only king over Judah, and it took an additional seven years before becoming king over all the tribes of Israel.
Even Jesus at times avoided going to Jerusalem because the timing was wrong. At one point he tells his mother, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).
Waiting is a part of faith in God.
Use periods of waiting to prepare yourself. We can often become despondent and despair when we are waiting for something in our lives. It can even get to where it consumes our mind, time, and life. James 1:4 reminds us to “let patience have her perfect work.”
During times of uncertainty and doubt, we can use the time we are waiting to prepare ourselves and hone our skills for when the next step in life finally comes. A single man or woman can ready themselves for marriage while still single by reading good relationship books. An employee can prepare themselves for a promotion by taking extra college courses or reading books on leadership. A Christian can prepare themselves by praying and meditating on the word of God.
We all have to play the waiting game from time to time, but it does not have to be troublesome. We can use it as an opportunity to grow in our faith, rather than languish in our anxiety.