My 92 year old father-in-law once told me of a dream he had, where he was standing and waiting his turn in a long line. The long wait irritated him, and therefore feeling annoyed, he gave the woman in front of him a big shove.
Obviously, this means little to you the reader, but for me, the picture was so hilariously out of character that I laughed heartily when he told it to me, and still find it funny whenever I think of it. Without a doubt, Dan’s Dad is the easiest person to please, with such a gentle nature, kind manner, and amazingly patient temperment. He is unquestionably the very last person in the world who would push somebody– a lady, no less– out of impatience. His dream, however– while so badly out of character for him– was certainly true to the raw nature of mankind in general when it comes to “waiting.”
Waiting brings out the very worst in us. Waiting is at the least, annoying. At worst, it’s a nightmare. All of us have to do it, yet not one of us likes it, and–truthfully– very few do it well. Sometimes it’s the greatest test we must endure, and in some cases it can even be the greatest trial of our faith. It seems that most of life is lived in a perpetual state of waiting for one thing or another, yet we’re so slow to properly learn the lessons of successfully “waiting” as God has commanded us to. When will we learn!?
The definition itself is very convicting and immediately shows us our failure to wait properly. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language defines waiting as: “to stay or rest in expection… to rest in expectation and patience…to look watchfully… to attend to, to perform… to be ready to serve; to obey…” This definition, written in 1828, reflects a culture and character that we’ve moved very far away from in current America.
These days, there’s a clear element of focus that we miss all too often when we wait in panic, or confusion, or frustration, or annoyance. Most often, in our modern, largely materialistic world, we focus on the provision itself, instead of on the One who provides–kind of the way my infant granddaughter becomes totally focused on milk to satisfy her, not yet understanding that the warm embrace of the mother who provides the milk is the truest satisfaction of her need. No mother, no milk.
Of itself, the act of waiting does not make us more virtuous. Everybody waits. Waiting ‘patiently’ is definitely an improvement. But properly recognizing the focus of our waiting– “on the Lord”– is the command that we are compelled to obey, and the prize for which we strive– our truest virtue.
“Oh my God, in you I trust…None who wait for you shall be put to shame,” Psalm 25:3
“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation,” Psalm 62:1
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,” Psalm 130:5,6
“In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you,” Isaiah 26:8
Waiting for God to move is a very great trial of patience, and many circumstances are urgent indeed! As this is being written, there are so many who have been waiting long for the Lord, in circumstances that are extreme.
We currently have friends who are in their second year of waiting for the release of their only son, a prisoner of war somewhere in Afghanistan. They have neither heard from him (apart from some videos posted by the Taliban) nor spoken to him, and don’t know exactly where he is.
A nephew and his wife have dreamed for so long of having a large family, yet after years, they are still waiting.
Several young ladies are still waiting for God to bring husbands to share their lives with.
Other friends are still waiting–after six years– for a medical miracle after the wife suffered serious injury having fallen from a horse she was riding.
Many are waiting for jobs after losing theirs in the current economic collapse, and several have lost significant investments in the recession, waiting for a turn around that will help them get back on their feet financially.
And the list goes on…
This week as I was praying for God to answer these and other situations where waiting has felt so long, I abruptly remembered praying years ago that God would provide my son Justin with a godly wife. At that time, my prayer was urgent, and waiting seemed so long, as he was already in his 30’s and I knew his desire was to be married. With amazing acuteness, it suddenly occurred to me that after God did provide, the answer seemed so normal and right that I could hardly recall anymore the urgency of the waiting I had endured!
Back then, I actually remember thinking that everything would be so much better if only my son were married. Now that he’s happily married, I hardly remember the impatience of my waiting, and yet more situations have cropped into my life where I now find myself thinking, “Things would be so much better if only….” When will I ever learn that it isn’t in the fulfillment of the circumstances themselves that my peace and happiness will be found, if it is apart from the Sovereign God who is in control of it all? It’s only in waiting for God Himself to be revealed in these circumstances that we’re waiting for, that we can find the security to “wait patiently.”
As women and as mothers, we are particularly vulnerable to the stress and panic of waiting. As the Jewish woman said, “A mother is only as happy as her saddest child.” The constant struggle is to take our eyes away from the provision– especially as it involves our children– and focus on the Provider as we strive to properly wait, to “rest in expectation.”
Like Joseph looking back on those long years of waiting for the Lord’s deliverance, we too can be assured that the circumstances we are waiting patiently to see fulfilled are in reality beautiful threads of the fabric that God is sovereignly weaving together for His own glory. And we are part of it. Therefore, we wait patiently.
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