REFLECT ON THE WORD: WAIT
Definition: to stay in place while expecting something to happen; delay action
Synonyms: abide, delay, expect, anticipate
Do you remember when you were a child waiting for your birthday to come? How about the six-year-old waiting for vacation to start? And the agony of waiting for your license to drive! As a child and young person waiting was hard.
Is it any easier as an adult?
I guess not when you look at how we behave. We check out all the lines in the grocery store for the shortest one. Horns honk as soon as the light turns green. We even pay more just to get priority boarding on a plane. Like we will get there any sooner.
WE JUST DON’T LIKE TO WAIT!
We can make light of our impatience, but there are also times of waiting that are tough.
- Waiting for the medical test result
- Waiting for your child’s fever to drop
- Waiting for the pain to subside
- Waiting for the bully to stop
- Waiting for the prodigal to return home
- Waiting for the check to come when you are broke
- Waiting for the loved one to return home from a military deployment
- Waiting for the jury’s verdict
While we may feel weak and helpless when we wait, God often uses these times to strengthen and build our faith. Prayer, fasting, meditation, stewardship, service, reflection, and praise are all spiritual disciplines, but waiting is also a spiritual practice we should learn to cultivate.
Unfortunately, in our fast-paced world, it is an attribute that gets little practice.
Our cell phones allow us to keep in touch 24/7, receive texts wherever we are located, and pick up our email instantaneously. Packages are delivered overnight and we stream music and download books in a flash. Our patience is more strained than in the past due to a society that allows instant gratification.
Yet, even in biblical times when the world moved at a much slower pace, travel was laborious, and the only way to connect was face-to-face, waiting was still hard.
Today, as we reflect on The Word I want to examine two women who waited. One did so with grace and trust in God and the other not so much!
First, let’s look at Anna. This woman’s life surely wasn’t what she expected. She married young in a culture that valued women for the children they were able to produce. However, after seven years of marriage, she lost the protection of a husband and she had no children.
She didn’t shake her fist at God but lived the remainder of her life worshipping and serving God. She anxiously waited for the Messiah, and though it was a long wait she didn’t stop trusting God. She was in the Temple when Jesus was brought there by His parents. God blessed her with the insight to know she was witness to the greatest event ever to occur on earth. The Bible tells us she proclaimed the Good News to everyone who waited expectantly for the Messiah to come! You can read about Anna in Luke 2: 36-38.
Then there is Sarai, who is married to Abram and followed her husband wherever God directed. God promised a child to this couple many times. When Abram was first called by God to move to Canaan, God promised this land to his descendants. (Genesis 12:7) Again in Genesis 15:4-5 God told Abram there was a son to come. But like many of us the couple thought the change would never occur, so they decided to take matters into their own hands. Sarai gave Abram her maidservant Hagar and Ishmael was born. (Genesis 16: 1-4, 15)
God comes again to Abram and Sarai and changed their names to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham meant father of many and with Sarah’s new name she was promised to be the mother of many nations. (Genesis 17: 4-6 and 15-16) Yet despite all these assurances, Sarah laughed when she heard that the child was only one year away. (Genesis 18: 10 -15)
Most of us know the outcome of this story. Sarah gave birth to Isaac and the Israelites did become a great nation. They are a nation of people who still play a pivotal role in the world today and for all future generations.
It is easy to criticize Sarah. She had a “direct line” to God so we are sure with that kind of assurance we would patiently wait. But would we? In reality, most of us are probably more Sarah than Anna – at least I am.
When the wait is long and God doesn’t seem to be acting, we convince ourselves that God must want us to intervene. Like Sarah, we think that surely God wants us to take some action. Yet, Sarah’s decision to give Hagar to Abraham was sinful and a mistake of epic proportions causing problems for generations to come.
Learning to wait is difficult, but a discipline we need to cultivate. After all, eventually we will all encounter a wait that is more than an inconvenience. While we wait for the result of the medical test, sit by a sick child, or endure persecution that never seems to end our strength and trust must be in God to get us through.
Of course, our most important “wait” is watching for our Lord and Savior to return so that we may know eternal life with God. For that reason alone we must learn to wait with patience, trust, and faith.
James 5: 7-8
In addition to James 5: 7-8, take some time this week to look up and meditate on the following Scriptures:
Psalm 33: 20-22 Psalm 130: 5-6 Isaiah 30: 18
“But they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31a NKJV)
Please share in the comment section difficult times of waiting that you have endured. Tell other readers about God’s timing and intervention. We can always benefit from others’ life stories.