I have no doubt that you have heard people talk about how we live in an impatient society; fixated on instant gratification and a love for shortcuts. We’ve been conditioned to expect things to happen quickly. Just look at how annoyed we get if our Wi-Fi is slow or if a package takes longer than expected to arrive.
When we read Bible stories of heroes like Abraham, we forget (or resent) how long he had to wait for God’s promise to him to materialize. When we read the account in Genesis we get from the point of the promise being spoken to the fulfilment of that promise in about five minutes.
Actually, that period lasted around 25 years. Twenty-five real years that each contained 52 weeks. About 9,125 nights of waiting, praying and dreaming about the promise yet to come. Those 25 years would have felt like forever, plenty of time to think that God had not spoken, plenty of time to be frustrated, impatient and irritable. In fact, if you know the story of Abraham and Sarah you’ll know that they even tried to help God bring his plan to life when doubt crept in (Hello, Ishmael).
Abraham and Sarah laughed at God’s promise to them of a child, but here is the thing about God: His plans don’t need our approval and they don’t run on our schedule. If He said it, He meant it and He will do it.
Raise your hand if you get a little bit discouraged when you hear someone say “Your time will come.” I know it is meant with the best intentions but it provides minimal comfort.
Some of us can’t bear the thought of waiting 25 years for something; a house, a job, a calling, an opportunity, a relationship, a child. It seems cruel for something we desire so greatly to take that long to come to us. I mean, what are supposed to do in the meantime? How do you get on with life when all you can think about is this dream is constantly ticking over in the back of your mind, with no idea how or when it will come true?
His plans don’t need our approval and they don’t run on our schedule. If He said it, He meant it and He will do it.
Could God be calling us to slow down and stop living in today’s incredibly fast-paced culture—to stop believing that unless we have something now we will never get it at all? Could God be telling us to trust that He has amazing plans in store for us, plans that may not look the same as the plans He has for other people? Could it be that God is calling us to a level of trust so deep that we literally have to stop doing anything in our own strength and just wait for him, to simply be still and know that He is God?
I won’t claim that I have mastered the art of being patient, but I will say that God is teaching me a lot about it through all of my kicking and screaming. Here are three truths to bring us comfort while we wait for His promises to us:
Sometimes the wait is for your benefit.
“Learn well how to wait so you will be strong and complete and in need of nothing.” James 1:4
This one is a hard pill to swallow but we all know it’s true. I once heard a preacher say: “God took the Israelites out of Egypt and then spent 40 years getting Egypt out of them.” All this generation of Israelites had known was slavery and oppression. They had no idea how to live in freedom. In the wilderness, God taught them to wholeheartedly trust Him for everything they would need, as this was how they were to live from then on. An eight-day journey took the Israelites 40 years because they had some lessons to learn before they could enter into their promised land.
Sometimes God keeps us in a season of waiting to prepare us for what is around the corner. If we step into it too early we may ruin the opportunity He has prepared for us. When David was anointed as the next King of Israel, his rule did not start straight away. In fact, he became a servant to King Saul. This was the perfect place to learn about being a King, serving underneath the King himself. We may not even be aware of all that God is trying to teach us in our season of waiting but we can be assured that we will come out of it having learned important lessons for the next season we step into.
If we put our hope in the right place we won’t be disappointed.
“… Then you will know that I am the Lord, those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23
God told Abraham and Sarah that He would give them a child. I think Abraham and Sarah thought they had a big part to play in that miracle, but really all God needed them to do was trust Him.
God will do impossible things for us when we choose to believe in him. Just like Abraham and Sarah, we can wrestle with how God will do something and talk ourselves out of trusting him completely. That is why He tells us not to lean on our own understanding and reminds us that His ways are higher than ours.
Whatever we are waiting for, it is God who will cause it to happen so it should be Him who we put our hope in. When we put our hope in our ability to make a situation come to pass we set ourselves up for disappointment. That disappointment can eat away at our faith so we should make sure we put our hope in something immovable. God will be faithful to us forever. He will never leave us or turn his back on us. We can have confident hope that his plans for us are good. If we put our hope in truths like these we will never be disappointed.
God is faithful.
“So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
It is so easy to doubt what God has said when a little time has passed from when he spoke it. Sometimes God speaks to us to give us the courage to go. Other times He speaks so that when situations look dark we can hold on to what He said in the beginning.
God spoke through the prophet Isaiah to foretell the coming of Jesus, who was to save the people of Israel (and the rest of us). Isaiah describes how “a lamb being led to the slaughter” “bore the sin of many” around 700 years before Jesus was born.
In hindsight, we can clearly see the correlation between things Isaiah said and the life that Jesus lived. However, there were many points where the Israelites would have wondered if this Messiah was actually coming.
But why would God say these things so long before Jesus came?
Why would God tell Abraham about a child so long before the child was to be born? Why would God keep us waiting for the things we desire the most? He does it to fortify our trust in Him as He proves himself faithful.
Jesus often spoke about how what He was doing fulfilled the prophecies written in Scripture. In all Jesus did He reminded the Jews that (once again) their God had been faithful to them and had done exactly what He said He would do. God is constantly reminding us to trust in Him alone. He wants to lead us into a deeper relationship with Him by teaching us how to trust Him wholeheartedly.
“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5
No, it’s not easy to wait. Yes, it may be long. But let’s remember that God does not give empty words. If He has said that something will come to pass in our life then we can be assured that He will bring it to pass, in our lives. Just as He promised.