Soon in life you will learn that a lot of life is about “waiting”! You could be waiting for some form of healing, or waiting for a job, or waiting for a spouse or waiting for some incident to happen that matters a lot to you.
The waiting phase can be quite frustrating and painful at times, also because of the “broken” nature of this world. For instance, these days people in Syria and Iraq are waiting for peace/healing/restoration.
In this article we will explore the following key questions:-
- What are some instances of “waiting” in the Bible?
- What do we learn from them? (i.e., what does “waiting” have to do with God’s plans for our lives)
- So, “how” shall we wait, in today’s time?
What are “some” instances of “waiting” in the Bible?
- Genesis 3 - “Fall of Man” - Humans was separated from God. Then started a LONG waiting period for humanity, “separated from God”. Eventually Jesus came and died on the cross to end the separation between God and humans.
- Abraham and Sarah waited unusually deep into “old age” for Isaac to be born.
- Jacob had to work for 14 years before he could marry Rachel (Genesis 29)
- Joseph, a great man of God, spend about 13 years in slavery and prison
- Israelites were enslaved under egyptians (Exodus 1-12) for a very long period, without any fault of theirs (I repeat - without any fault of theirs)
- Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years (Numbers 32:13)
- Hannah waited for years before she could give birth to Samuel (1 Samuel 1)
- David, whom God Himself testified as one after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), had to wait for ~15 years (riddled with uncertainties and serious attempts on life) before he could become the king. David talks a lot about his eventful journey in Psalms - from which we learn a great deal on waiting.
- 70 years of exile for the Jews (https://www.gotquestions.org/Babylonian-captivity-exile.html)
- Jesus waited, with unimaginable pain, for six hours of eternity at the cross
- The ULTIMATE ONE:- And, now we are waiting for Jesus to come back
What do we learn from them? (i.e., what does “waiting” have to do with God’s plans for our lives)
As you search through the Bible, instances of people “waiting”, you will learn pretty soon that “waiting” has always been part of God’s great plans for people. It is a very legitimate holy tool that God uses for His holy purposes (i.e., preparing one for things to come, building one’s spiritual muscles - James 1:2-4, etc).
And, “how” shall we wait, in today’s time?
We learn from how God’s people “waited”, as recorded in the Bible and beyond, during the course of history.
- Get to know God more. Phillipians 3:8:- “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”
- Learn to overcome doubts. Waiting phases can be at times very frustrating and painful. Even to the point that one can start doubting core values. This quite likely happened to none other than John the Baptist (JB). One can say that if there was a guy at in the beginning of Jesus’s ministry who was very confident about the divinity of Jesus, it would be JB. He was the one who started introducing Jesus to the world as Christ the Savior (John 1:29). JB clearly said in John 1:34:- “And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God”. Then JB was put into prison. And there JB starts to doubt as indicated in Matthew 11:3: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”. So, if someone like JB can start doubting during difficult times, so can I. So, the next question is, then how shall we overcome doubts that tend to incur during difficult times? Subsequently, in Matthew 11:4, Jesus Himself helps with this question. He says: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor”. That is, one good practice is to look back and remember how in the past God had always been faithful. Kierkegaard said something very interesting - "Life can only be understood backwards ... ".
- Draw strength from God. God wants to help you wait:- Isaiah 40:31: “But they 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.”. Recall, how Jesus drew strength at the garden of Gethsemane, when his “soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46) - He would then "wait" at the cross for SIX hours. Draw great confidence from knowing that Jesus is actively praying for His children (Romans 8:34, Luke 22:32). Also, the Word of God will nourish you, as it did to Jesus as He "waited" in the wilderness, - Matthew 4:4 ("Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God"). Exodus 14:14:- "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent"
- Keep choosing joy & thankfulness (Jesus: Luke 10:20 - "rejoice that your names are written in heaven"; God is going to redeem - Revelation 21:4 - “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”), keep loving people, do not worry and do not anxious (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Philippians 4:6-7, Galatians 6:9). Yes, in difficult times, one is tempted to forsake these “essentials”, as one gets caught up with one’s own issues. Beware of Matthew 13:21-22.
- Wait WITH GOD. God is eagerly waiting too. Let’s join Him in His “waitings”. He is waiting with great anticipation for the day of “new heaven and new earth” (Revelation 21). When, he will come and wipe away all tears - there will be no more sorrows, no more pains (Imagine, how much God’s heart breaks each and every day because of all the sin and brokenness in this world). Jesus had to go through SO MUCH PAIN at the cross - so He is waiting with great anticipation for His return on earth to complete what He started on the cross ~2000 years ago. Bible describes this as groom (Jesus) waiting to meet bride (Church) at the wedding. Imagine what all emotions the bride goes through as the day of wedding nears. God is also waiting for many prodigals to return. Imagine, how painful it can be for a father to eagerly wait each and every day for his lost child to return home (also see Luke 15).
- Wait WITH the Church. The temptation often in difficult times is to isolate yourself from people. But in the Church only you will find other believers who would pray for you and also share your burdens. So do find company in Church (you would find many others in similar situations). Someone said something very interesting - "Solo waits feel longer than group waits". If you meet Joni Eareckson Tada (a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the shoulders down - http://www.joniandfriends.org/) in the Church, she will share with you from her wheelchair: “I haven’t been cheated out of being a complete person—I’m just going through a forty-year delay, and God is with me even through that. Being ‘glorified’—I know the meaning of that now. It’s the time, after my death here, when I’ll be on my feet dancing.” The Church waits as in - Romans 8:23: “Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies”
- Don’t waste your life - Be actively engaged in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus said "harvest is plenty, but the workers are few" (Matthew 9:37). God is looking for workers. In general, the needs of this world are overwhelmingly great and are crying out to you for help. For instance, there are 20+ million slaves today in this world, waiting to be freed. About 400 million kids live in extreme poverty. So many refugees in and around Syria/Iraq need help. The list goes on and on. So, there is a lot of work to be done. So why sit back?
- Keep learning from Scriptures - For instance, Paul shares in Scriptures - Philippians 4:11-13: “... for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”.
Refrain from idolatries that break heart and be ready to loose "to gain" - Matthew 10:39 "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it", Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal", Genesis 22:2 "Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.' ”
- Finally, the ULTIMATE WAIT:- Waiting for Jesus to come back. This is supposed to be the most anticipated wait for a Christian, as the Bible compares it with bride (Church) waiting for her groom (Jesus). Imagine how eagerly a bride waits for the day of her marriage when she will start her journey with groom. The challenge for Christians here is to be ready for that day, as suggested in Luke 12:35-48. At any given moment as we wait for so many other things in life (i.e., next job, a spouse, healing), how do we wait for Christ return? Is the return of Christ our foremost anticipation? If not then are we indulging in idolatry (longing for “other lesser things” more than Jesus)?
- Final word of encouragement - All the "waitings" of the children of God will end with "tears of joy" (metaphor) when Jesus returns and completes the redemption of their lives, broken and riddled with failures and sufferings. He will wipe away all their tears and there will be no more sorrow/pain for them (Revelation 21:4). So, children of God - rejoice (Luke 10:20) and live in peace (John 14:27)!