We live in a world where the word "wait" generates great exasperation, annoyance and frustration. With the fast paced world of skills, knowledge, scientific breakthroughs, as well as the abundance of 'things' we enjoy today, we expect that whatever it is that we need, we must have and should have it right now.
But if we really think about it, life is a life of waiting; waiting in line at the market, at the airport, in the doctor's office, waiting for the mail to be delivered, waiting for someone to love, for a check to come, or waiting for a job....a thousand different ways of waiting. Like impatient children, we expect the wait period should be minimal. And so, when we pray, we fervently hope that our answers will come quickly and without delay.
Webster's Dictionary defines waiting as "staying or remaining in a state of repose until something expected happens, or to be in readiness." The bible is full of passages telling us we must wait on the Lord. So when we pray, we are in a state of expectation. But some of us place a time limit for the answers to our prayers when we face a problem that we cannot solve ourselves.
And when our answers don't come swiftly, we sometimes become discouraged and even rethink our faith. Our mind tells us, "If I believe in Him and trust, shouldn't I depend on Him to carry me through my sadness, my pain, my needs, or whatever it is I am facing?" Thrown into the mix of our needs is our adversity, Satan, who stealthily whispers to us that we wait in vain. How do we silence these uncertainties?
The first thing to keep foremost in our minds is that our human timing is not in sync with God's divine timing. This does not mean God is not listening or that He does not care. He has a plan and an answer for each person and He will fulfill it according to His own timetable, if it is His will and is best for us. We cannot know what plans He has for us. We do not have His wisdom.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 tells us, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Vasily Drosdov Philaret (1780 - 1867) a Russian prelate, author, and preacher, has this to say on this subject, " I do not know what to ask You. You alone know my real needs, and You love me more than I even know how to love. Enable me to discern my true needs which are hidden from me. I ask for neither cross nor consolation; I wait in patience for You. My heart is open to You.
For Your great mercy's sake, come to me and help me. Put your mark on me and heal me, cast me down and raise me up. Silently I adore Your holy will and Your inscrutable ways. I offer myself in sacrifice to You and put all my trust in You. I desire only to do Your will.
Teach me how to pray and pray in me, Yourself." (Vasily Drosdov Philaret became archbishop of Tver and a member of the holy synod in 1819 and metropolitan of Moscow in 1826. He long urged the abolition of serfdom and is generally considered the author of the Edict of Emancipation promulgated by Alexander 11 in 1861. Philaret also wrote a standard catechism of the Russian Orthodox Church.)
Waiting means patience and a recognition of God's power and with this comes confidence and hope. We anticipate God's answer to us, even though we do not know how or what that good will be. We think something positive is about to happen. Like a child waiting for a parent to unwrap a gift for them, we wait earnestly for the Lord to come through with an answer for our concerns. But, sometimes He says "No" to us, and we think He has not heard our plea for help. Later down the road we see and thank God for saying "No" for it is then we understand with clarity that the thing we begged for was wrong and even detrimental to us.Paul J. Bucknell in his article "Waiting on God Not Man", has this to say about being patient and letting God handle our trials: "Waiting for the Lord is not easy. Our heart is often crying out in agony. We feel oppressed and constrained. We yearn for freedom and provision. Waiting upon the Lord for needed supplies is one common area in which He trains us.
We have to be needy so that we are forced to look to the Lord for help. Our other resources are stripped away. Someone yesterday said to me, 'But I don't like what the Lord is bringing me through.' How true this is. We squirm, squiggle and squeak."
Continuing further, he tells, .... "We need to wait on God for a spouse, for a job, for healing, for wisdom, for ministry, etc. We might say that it is Satan tempting us, and in some cases he is, but at the same time it is God who is testing (proving) us. He is bringing us a step closer to Himself."
Here is a story that illustrates this point: "The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He began to pray loudly for rescue. Day after day, he searched for food under the boiling sun. He kept crying out "I am waiting patiently, Lord, for an answer from You. I am faithful and I know You love me. It has been a long, long time. How long must I wait?"
Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. But he kept praying. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. All day and before going to sleep in his little hut, he murmured feverishly for God to rescue him, but it seemed God was not going to help.
"I guess I am on my own", he thought. His hope began to fade with each passing day. His faith grew weak and he felt the One he counted on had let him down. Then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky.
The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me! Why?" he cried, falling to the ground in intense grief, the few things he had gathered for a sparse meal scattering away from him. He fell onto the rocky ground and fell asleep with tears rolling down his tattered shirt.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. At first he thought he was surely dreaming. "This can't be true", he told himself as his heart gave a great leap of hope. But this was real, someone was coming! Someone was coming to rescue him at last! "Over here", he shouted, waving his hands in happiness. "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.
Waiting takes discipline. Waiting means hope, a period of anticipation that God in His divine mercy will come through for us in ways we cannot see, so remain fast and keep praying for His mercy and guidance. Don't let your faith weaken as time goes by.
Be patient and keep your courage as there may be no swift answers. This is what God requires of us. As earthly beings, we don't have all the answers and God does not promise this life will be perfect. There will be snags that come which will try to destroy the soul, problems that make us stagger in indecision.
Christians who are weak in faith may lose hope as we see our lack of money to pay our bills, perhaps our children are in trouble, family members in ill health, and all the uncertainties that life throws our way. What we know is that our Lord asks us to wait on Him in trust, and if it is right for us, He will fulfill our needs. Rely on Him to give you courage, strength, and fortitude to overcome whatever it is that troubles your soul.
C.S.Lewis wrote, “To trust Him means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way.”
Does this mean we pray God will fulfill our needs while we sit on our hands in despair? Absolutely not. We ask the Lord for His wisdom, we ask God to make known, through the Holy Spirit, the paths we must take to overturn our pitfalls. Psalms 25:5 says, "Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day."
With His guidance and enlightenment we must keep moving forward for "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him." - Lamentations 3:25. During this time we learn to be strong, letting God come through with a lesson that will strengthen us.
Praying to God about our burdens does not guarantee we will see the outcome we asked for, but our waiting will pull us closer to Him. Whatever He does bless us with will be greater than we asked for.
If God says no, we must defer to His infinite judgment, realizing that He knows what is best for us. He asks that we trust in His mercy and His love through our needs and our fears, being confident that He will make a way for us through His immeasurable wisdom in His own time.
Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. - Psalms 27:14