Perhaps you know the feeling of waiting for your phone to charge?
You’ve run out of batteries, you’ve plugged the phone in and now there’s nothing to do but sit and wait? And even it really only takes a matter of minutes (and even though it’s nothing more than a phone), you start to feel tense and anxious, wondering how long this could possibly take.
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 say He is slow at going about things. It seems He always has a plan and a purpose for everything.
The problem with waiting is not having all the details. From our perspective, we have everything figured out and we want God to move within our timeframe.
But God rarely does things according to our timeframe, and because of this we can easily get discouraged. If we aren’t careful, we’ll think He’s uncaring or mad at us.
In the Gospels we see this happening to Mary and Martha while they are waiting on Jesus to come and heal their brother, Lazarus. When Jesus finally shows up, He is accused of taking too long.
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.
In studying the lives of these great people, I’ve discovered 5 reasons God makes us wait:
1. Waiting Reveals Our True Motives
Waiting has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. People who don’t have good motives won’t wait long because they’re not interested in the commitment it takes to see something through. They’re too interested in short-term gains or success.
Most of us have good intentions, but a lot of what we want to accomplish is an attempt to make a name for ourselves or for our own egos. It hurts to say this, but it’s often true.
2. 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.
3. Waiting Builds Anticipation
Why do children get so excited around Christmas? Because the wait has produced anticipation. We tend to appreciate things the longer we have to wait for them.
A few years ago, my family and I were going through a difficult season. We had to live with my mother-in-law for a few years. During this time the Lord assured me that one day we would own a home of our own. It took a few years to see this happen, but when the day finally came, we could hardly contain ourselves.
Because of having to wait so long, we tend to cherish and take care of it more than others might. People tend to treasure the things they have to wait for.
4. 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 few sermons talk about Moses having to wait in the desert 40 years before God came to him. God used this time of waiting to transform his character. We know this because when he was a young man he was brash and impatient. 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.
In the end, the Israelites were delivered from slavery and Moses became a great leader. Waiting transformed the life of Moses and it does the same for you and I.
5. Waiting Builds Intimacy and Dependency Upon God
The reason we are able to read about the great men and women of the Bible is because they all had one thing in common. They were all people who learned their success in life was directly proportionate to their intimacy and dependency upon God. For them, a relationship with God wasn’t a get rich quick scheme. For many of them it was a matter of life and death.
Waiting during the difficult times developed their relationship with God. Some of the most intimate relationships we have in our lives are because a friend stood in the trenches with us during the heat of the battle. Maybe this is what the scripture means when it says we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
The reason we get to read the stories of these great men and women is because they went through the difficulties of life with God. In the end, they enjoyed the process with God and the promise of God.
I’ve always believed God is just as interested in the journey as he is the destination. If not, all the biblical accounts would only include the feel good parts and not the good, the bad and the ugly of the times of waiting. We may not always understand why we have to wait, but the good news is that God never asks us to wait without Him.
Eric is a pastor, college professor and practical theologian. He believes the Bible is meant to be lived out, not just read. To get a free eBook and see more posts like this one, you can visit his blog EricSpeir.com and you can follow him on Twitter @ericspeir.