Have you ever asked God for something and then received a phone call and it seemed as if God was answering your prayers? This happened to me, and I found myself saying, “this is a great idea, right Lord?”. I knew I had to do something about my situation, but I wasn’t waiting for God. Turns out it wasn’t a good idea. Patience is not one of my virtues. When I see something that needs to get done, I just roll up my sleeves and move forward. But in truth, the busyness in life keeps me from listening for God’s direction. I need to learn to wait on the Lord.
God always has good reasons for making us wait. Waiting is a part of life and one of God’s tools for developing people. 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.
“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” (Psalm 37:7)
“What a chapter can be written of God’s delays!” said F. B. Meyer. “It is the mystery of educating human spirits to the finest temper of which they are capable.” Through the discipline of waiting, we can develop the quieter virtues—submission, humility, patience, joyful endurance, persistence in well-doing—virtues that take the longest to learn.
In the Old Testament, the psalmist celebrates waiting patiently for the Lord (Psalm 40:1), and Isaiah promises that those “who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Three Pathways for Cultivating Patience – It’s not patience when we’re gloriously unaware of the waiting. And so when we feel the burn, we need divine promises in store and a plan of attack. Here are three biblical pathways for cultivating patience in the waiting.
1) Renew Faith and Hope – When you feel the first resistance, let it be a reminder to go Godward. Recalibrate the focus of your faith. Move the weight of your trust off self, where it keeps gravitating back, and consciously reorient on God. Whether it’s simply spare moments or seemingly endless days, waiting is no waste in God’s economy. It is in the delays and the pauses, and in becoming aware of our lack of patience, that he works to save us from self-reliance and revitalize our faith and hope in him.
Patience comes with faith (2 Timothy 3:10; Hebrews 6:12) — faith for the moment, and hope toward the future. Faith feeds hope, and when “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25).
2) Pray and Give Thanks – Second, let the waiting prompt you to pray. The summons to “be patient in tribulation” is followed with the reminder to “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). A healthy life of prayer doesn’t necessitate hours each day in the closet, but eyes to see the opportunities in, and a heart to seize upon, the unexpected moments and seasons of waiting.
Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15–17)
Few things will pass the time as effectively and richly as counting your blessings and naming them to God.
3) Remember the Patience of God – Finally, the pain of waiting can point our hearts to the life-saving patience of God. We owe our everything to his kindness and patience with us. “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
Jesus himself is the climactic display of God’s perfect patience toward sinners (1 Timothy 1:16). He is “patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We “count the patience of the Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15) and bank on his promise, in all our waiting, to “sustain you to the end” (1 Corinthians 1:8).
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay;
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still. —Pollard
Waiting for God is never a waste of time.