Waiting and Whining or Waiting and Worshipping?
Let’s face it. We all have to wait. We wait for the ramen in the microwave, for the light to turn green, and for bigger things: job promotion, an increase in pay, or growth in relationships. Prolonged anticipation is never easy. I think the hardest time to wait is when you don’t know if the wait will ever end.
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. “James 1:2-4 HCSB
When God’s teaching me patience it can take a long time….. I think this is because I don’t listen and try to hurry the process along. While I am in the waiting waters, I struggle to stop and listen to what God is saying in the present time. I become blind to His blessings and instead hold a laser gaze on what I want NOW. I do not allow patience to be molded into me by the trials God allows into my life. I let myself think that I am suffering because God has withheld something when in fact God knows that it is not the right time for me to have what I want. Through this withholding God wants to cultivate richer intimacy with Him. Because once I reach my goal there will be something else to be reached and I will squirm again as God tries to teach me patience and cultivate a quiet heart towards Him. The goal cannot be getting what I want. Rather the goal must be receiving more of God, learning to enjoy His presence, and listening and obeying His voice. In the Old Testament Sarah grew tired of waiting for her promised child and so she took matters into her own hands. This resulted in years of heartache and regret. She did not allow herself to seek God first during her wait. How many times later did Sarah feel pangs of regret over her quick fix? What we do in an instant can impact and change those around us long after. (See Gen. 16 for full account.)
During a winter of waiting I am more susceptible to sin because I feel that it’s justifiable. I wouldn’t verbalize that, but I act that way. I complain and am more critical of those around me. I glaze over my sin and focus on the sin of others and think I am more spiritually for it. (Matt. 7:1-6) I also give into more of my whims and indulgent desires all to help ease the void in my life rather than turning to God during moments of emptiness and longing. All these things are a way of my acting in rebellion towards God’s season of waiting. I can make my waiting season longer simply due to my lack of obedience and surrender to His plan.
God’s withholding may feel like suffering, but that’s because I can’t see the whole picture. God may give me what I want now and then I wouldn’t use it for it’s God intended purpose. When I was about seven years old, I had a super cool Cinderella umbrella with a blue handle. Was that umbrella used in the rain? Uh,no way! Why wait that long? I ran around the backyard waving my umbrella singing “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” at the top of my lungs! My umbrella was open and with each wind gust I was certain that I would actually begin to fly. But after flying day after day, my umbrella began to tire a little faster than I did. And then there was the sad day when my umbrella broke. I was sad. No more Mary Poppins adventures.
Sometimes I think my dreams and deepest desires are similar to my Cinderella umbrella. I want it now and God knows that if I get what I want now that I will not be able to use it for its intended purpose. I will be like a seven-year-old who is happy for a short time before reality strikes. I’m sure it rained shortly after and I was wet because I had misused my umbrella. I had to wait before I could get another one.
God also chooses to wait. He could have Jesus come back right now to rapture the church and yet He waits because He knows of one more person that is so close to letting Him in, and He knows of another person that everyone says is too far gone for Jesus. God smiles because He knows better. He knows what others cannot know and sees what others cannot see without eyes of faith. God waits for people to come to Him, waits for His children to desire more of Him. God could make us change but He blessed us with free will and He gently waits, calling us closer to Him.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
In the garden after God had created everything He rested.
“Thus the heavens and the earth and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Gen. 2:1-3.
God could’ve been anxious about all the people He would make and the happenings of the world. But God was not in a hurry. He is outside of time. And so, He waited and rested from creating on the seventh day. He rested. Knowing He was in control. He set a precedent of trusting Him to guide the course of our lives.
So, I can imagine that you are waiting for something. Look for ways to grow in your relationship with God. Rather than becoming bored in the wait, look for new ways to be renewed in His presence. Go look at the sunset, see the dew drops after the rain or sense God’s power with the hurricane. Crack open your Bible. His Word is so alive that it speaks to me something different every time! Don’t waste this beautiful time of waiting, anticipation, and longing.
“Wait on the LORD and be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait I say on the LORD!” Psalm 27:14
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18.