Waiting in the Wings

“And sure enough even waiting will end…if you can just wait long enough.”William Faulkner (1897-1962), American writer and Nobel Prize laureate.I’ve recently written on the topic of waiting in a blog post titled, The Waiting Game.” However, the subject came to mind again today while reading a book titled, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On (1999, 2008) by Stormie Omartian, a bestselling Christian author.  She opens Chapter 12 titled, “Waiting in the Wings,” with the following two paragraphs:

Has it ever seemed like you are waiting in the wings for the next scene of your life to start? The stage is dark and you’re expecting the lights to go up and the curtain to rise. The first act may or may not have gone smoothly, but by now you’ve been on an extended intermission and you’re beginning to wonder if the second act will ever begin.

How many times in our lives have we found ourselves waiting like that? Waiting for things to change. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for life to get back to normal. Waiting for more time or more money. Waiting for the relationship to get better. Waiting for the right door to open. Waiting for the right person to come along. Waiting for somebody to notice. Waiting, waiting, waiting.  (Quote source: “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” 2008 edition, p. 107.)

Sound familiar? On page 109 she writes, “Going through a waiting period doesn’t mean there is nothing happening, because when you are waiting on the Lord, He is always moving in your life.” And he is moving in your circumstances behind the scenes, too (see blog post titled, Backstage: Behinds the Scenes).

Isaiah 40:31 reminds us that “…those who wait on 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.” So what, exactly, does it mean to “wait on the Lord”? GotQuestions.org gives us the following answer: 

The command to wait on the Lord is found extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it is more about waiting for the Lord’s providential care, but most New Testament references relate to Christ’s second coming. In all cases, it is about waiting expectantly and with hope. Fundamental to being able to wait is trusting God’s character and goodness.

Waiting on the Lord is something the godly do. It’s about holding on tight, hoping with expectation and trust, knowing that our Lord is not making us wait just to see how long we can “take it.” There are times when God will delay His answer, and we will at times wonder why He seems so reluctant to intervene in our affairs: “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God” (Psalm 69:3). But, knowing the Lord, we trust that He will come at the perfect moment, not a second too soon or too late.

Waiting on the Lord necessitates two key elements: a complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow Him to decide the terms, including the timing of His plan. Trusting God with the timing of events is one of the hardest things to do. The half-joking prayer, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it RIGHT NOW,” is not far removed from the truth of how we often approach matters of spiritual growth and the Lord’s will. To wait on the Lord produces character in the life of the Christian in that it involves patience (see James 1:4). Waiting involves the passage of time, which is itself a gift of God.

The word “wait” in the Bible carries the idea of confident expectation and hope. “For God alone my soul waits in silence . . . my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:15, ESV). To wait upon the Lord is to expect something from Him in godly hope, “and hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5). We wait on the Lord in a way similar to how we wait on the arrival of out-of-town relatives, with loving anticipation of seeing them again. All creation eagerly awaits God’s restoration: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). Those who wait for God to keep His promises will not be disappointed.

Waiting on the Lord involves being at rest in the Lord. Psalm 23 provides a lesson concerning being still. Sheep will not be at peace near rushing water, but they will lie contentedly by “still” water, and that’s where the Good Shepherd leads us (Psalm 23:2). The words “He makes me lie down” can be translated “He causes me to rest.” When we, like sheep, are still, we are resting in the Lord and trusting our Shepherd.

Being still means we have ceased from following our own agenda or ingenuity; we have stopped trusting in our own strength and will power. We are waiting upon the Lord to exchange our weakness for His strength (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). The apostle Paul had athorn in the flesh,” and, as he gains spiritual insight, he understands that the affliction is a protective suffering meant by God to keep him from sin. As a result, the apostle is content to rest in God’s grace. God does not remove the thorn; He gives Paul a place to be still in the bearing of it. Paul learned to be still and wait on the Lord.

To wait on the Lord is to rest in the confident assurance that, regardless of the details or difficulties we face in this life, God never leaves us without a sure defense. As Moses told the panicky Israelites trapped at the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). The heavenly perspective comes as we focus not on the trouble but on the Lord and His Word. When it seems God has painted us into a corner, we have an opportunity to set aside our human viewpoint and wait upon the Lord to show us His power, His purpose, and His salvation.

When we don’t choose to wait on the Lord, we solicit trouble for ourselves. Remember how Abraham and Sarah did not wait on the Lord for their child of promise; rather, Sarah offered her maid, Hagar, to Abraham in order to have a child through her. The account in Genesis 16 and 18 shows that their impatience led to no end of trouble. Any time we fail to wait on the Lord and take matters into our own hands—even when we’re trying to bring about something God wants—it leads to problems. When we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, ESV), we can allow God to work out the rest of the details.

This doesn’t mean we sit idly by as we wait on the Lord to act on our behalf. We should not spend our time doing nothing; rather, we should continue to do the work He has given us to do. Psalm 123:2 says, “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.” That is, we should look to God with the constant anticipation and willingness to serve that a servant shows to his master. The idea of waiting on the Lord is not like waiting for the dentist in the waiting room (thank goodness!). Rather, the sense of waiting on the Lord is somewhat akin to what a waiter or waitress does in a restaurant. Our attitude and actions should be as those of a waiter anticipating and meeting the requests of the one he’s waiting on. Our waiting on the Lord is not biding our time until we finally get the service we’ve been waiting for; it’s filling our time with service to the Master, always on our feet, ready to minister.

The command to “wait on the Lord” means that we are to be near Him and attentive so that we may catch the slightest intimation of what He wants for us. We naturally think of ourselves as self-sufficient. We turn here and there and expect help from our own ability, from friends, or from circumstances. But in the spiritual life we are taught to distrust self and depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

Waiting on the Lord involves the confident expectation of a positive result in which we place a great hope—a hope that can only be realized by the actions of God. This expectation must be based on knowledge and trust, or we simply won’t wait. Those who do not know the Lord will not wait on Him; neither will those who fail to trust Him. We must be confident of who God is and what He is capable of doing. Those who wait on the Lord do not lose heart in their prayers: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

Waiting on the Lord renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31). Prayer and Bible study and meditating upon God’s Word are essential. To wait on the Lord we need a heart responsive to the Word of God, a focus on the things of heaven, and a patience rooted in faith.

We should not despair when God tarries long in His response, but continue to patiently wait on Him to work on our behalf. The reason God sometimes waits a long time to deliver is to extend the goodness of the final outcome. “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18, ESV). (Quote source here.)

In an article published in 2015 titled, The Spiritual Benefits of Waiting, by Pete Wilson, president of The A Group, and the founding and former senior pastor of Cross Point Church, he writes:

God often uses waiting as a crucible in which to refine our character. Perhaps the prophet Isaiah realized this when he wrote, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”Isaiah 40:31

Faithful waiting on God makes us stronger, not weaker. Waiting is also a sign of humility. Remember that, long ago, persons of lesser rank who served nobility and royalty were said to “wait upon” them. In a similar way, they were said to “attend” their lords and rulers. Even today, the French word for “wait” is “attend.” Maybe there is something to learn here. Maybe we should think of waiting on God less as passively sitting around until something happens and more as actively attending—listening carefully for God’s voice and watching intently for evidence of His moving in our lives and in the world around us.

Now, believe me, I understand that those of you reading these words who are in the midst of waiting for a miracle or waiting for a dream to be realized or waiting to be delivered from a dark, scary place probably feel helpless. You feel as if you’re doing nothing, but you’re actually doing something very important. In fact, this waiting—this attending to God—may be the most important spiritual work you could possibly do. While you are waiting faithfully on God, you are also allowing your hope to grow up. And if you can’t be still and wait and hope—even when you have no reason to hope—you can’t become the person God created when He thought you into existence.

Spiritual transformation doesn’t take place when we get what we want. It takes place while we’re waiting. It is forged in us while we’re waiting, hoping, and trusting, even though we have yet to receive what we long for. Spiritual transformation happens in the waiting room.

Waiting also helps us learn the vital lesson that just because a dream is delayed doesn’t mean it is denied. When we continue to hope patiently and place our trust in God and in His schedule—not ours—we begin to gain the type of long-range perspective that allows us to have peaceful souls, even when the storms of life are raging about us. With God, we can wait out the storm and see the sun breaking through the clouds. When we trust in Him, we will eventually see the rainbow and the rebirth of our hopes and dreams….

Waiting and Life

So life isn’t turning out exactly the way you thought, and you have laid it before God in prayer, over and over again. You’ve taken the steps you know to take and prepared yourself to the best of your ability—and it still isn’t happening.

Is it time to move on? Is failure inevitable? And if it is, how much longer should you keep prolonging the obvious?

My bias is that, most of the time, we give up too soon. I prefer to help people see all the possibilities God may be placing before them. I am always hesitant to place time limits on God. The important thing is to continue trusting the end result to God, even when the outcomes you want are not immediately apparent.

Remember that faithful waiting—attending—involves much more than passively sticking your hands up in the air until God rains blessings down into your palms. Faithful waiting involves actively seeking contentment, even amid less-than-optimal circumstances.

Can you listen for God’s guidance, even when things aren’t going your way? Can you proactively trust Him, even when you aren’t seeing the evidence of the victory you long for?

I encourage you to keep doing the next right thing, taking the steps you know to take, without getting frustrated because you aren’t yet where you want to be. Act on the belief that God has a plan and that He is bringing it to completion in your life. Commit to being ready for that completion to occur, even if you can’t see it coming. (Quote source and entire article available at this link.)

Waiting isn’t easy but as we’ve read above, that should never be the focus of our attention as much is gained in the waiting if we don’t lose patience. I’ll end this post with Isaiah 40:31 which states: But those who wait on 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 . . . .

YouTube Video: “Wait on the Lord” by Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

A Truth We Almost Forgot

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”Jesus Christ (John 8:32)
I love getting great bargains on books and I got one yesterday when I found a new copy of book for less than $2.00 at a Spring blowout sale. The book is titled, Jesus Now: God is Up to Something Big,” (2016), by Dr. Tom Phillips, Vice President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Executive Director of The Billy Graham Library.

The introduction to the book on Amazon.com states the following:

God is moving today!

God desires to draw all people to Himself. He is awakening the world through the reconciling love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. What if the Lord was already awakening you, your family, your church, your city? Are you willing to let His Spirit, without warning, sweep through your own life?

In “Jesus Now,” join Dr. Phillips as he explores:

  • the themes and patterns of previous revivals that are becoming apparent today.
  • the unpredictable, untamed purposefulness of God to draw His church to Himself through ordinary and anonymous Christians.
  • how the power of prayer has found extraordinary new expression within Christians who have raised the name of Jesus above a denomination or ministry.
  • human impediments to God-initiated and sustained spiritual awakening.
  • ten principles to discern current revivals.
  • how to seek and follow Jesus, who has promised to do far more than you could ever imagine or request!

God is up to something big. What is your place in His great awakening? Because of Jesus, our churches, nation, and lives will never be the same again. (Quote source here.)

At it’s core, a revival is about a personal journey taken by each individual involved in it. The definition of revival according to Dictionary.com is: (1) restoration to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, etc.; (2) restoration to use, acceptance, or currency; (3) an awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion; and (4) an evangelistic service or a series of services for the purpose of effecting a religious awakening. (source here).

There are many stories in this book about revival and “the refreshing winds of the Spirit” that have broken down racial barriers, denominational barriers, and “the most remote, insensitive hearts and the many shades of prejudice and hate that segregate us from each other and from God” (page 22). Here is one of those stories on pp. 22-23:

One Sunday Dr. Phillips preached a sermon about love, the love of Jesus that embraces all people, all of God’s children–“God is love” (1 John 4:8) at a small white church in a small town in Mississippi.

He states, “I made it clear that anyone coming into the sanctuary would not be stopped, but be welcomed. After the service, I was standing at the front door greeting the people as they left. One deacon, a white gentleman, said to me, “I know what point you were trying to make, but I still love you anyway.”

Yet, something else happened. I noticed that younger people seemed to appreciate the sermon. In fact, the younger the person the more he or she said, “The things you said about Jesus loving all people, regardless or race, are real. It’s what God says.”

That day, I began to see the differing perspectives of the older and the younger generations. The former tended to have remote, insensitive, fearful hearts. Young people, on the other hand, were more open to following the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.

How willing are you? How willing am I to do the same? My hunger for personal revival and spiritual awakening across our land is as strong as my desire to be used in the reconciliation between blacks and whites, all peoples. I have seen African-American and Asian pastors from Philadelphia confess to each other their racism and then break down weeping. I’ve seen pride broken, sins confessed, and lives restored in the most calloused hearts and in the most unlikely parts of the country” (Quote source: Jesus Now,” p. 22-23).

Revival is truly a personal experience, and at the very heart of revival is the issue of love. I came across a couple of blog posts on this very topic written by the same author, John Enslow, titled, Love Brings in Revival or It’s Nothing,” and Cold Love Prevents Revival,” published in 2016. You can click on either title above to read the entire posts. I’m including some excerpts from those posts below. The following is taken from Love Brings in Revival or It’s Nothing:

The fact will always remain that revival is not birthed in doctrine, knowledge, understanding or anything of the mind. Love itself is the only force that can bring forth revival. And why is this? Because God is Love!

Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7-8 GW

I know it would seem safer to rely on prayer to bring in revival. Or our enlightenment in theological study would seem safer. But revival isn’t birthed from my doings or my knowing; Love brings in revival or I have nothing. It’s not that revival isn’t based on the Truth of God, nor that we don’t have to humble ourselves and pray to see our land healed. But unless Love is the center of our revival, it isn’t true revival. We might have a resurgence of study, but that isn’t revival. We might even have a surge of prayer, but this isn’t revival. Love brings in revival!…

Love requires faith in His keeping power. It’s impossible to manage Love. Love relies on trusting Him who is Love and who shepherds our hearts. To experience revival, we must leave the safe boat and trust in God’s ability to keep us on top of the waters.

I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. This way, with all of God’s people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep His love is. You will know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God.Ephesians 3:17b-19 GW

Jesus said that Love, not knowledge, is the characteristic of a genuine disciple. For the Law and the prophets hang on two commandments: Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the core of Life and Love brings in revival, which is a renewal of Life. The amazing thing is that very few of the people quoted about revival even mention Love. Maybe this is why we see so little true revival. No one is willing to be vulnerable enough to love….

If I want to see true change and true Life, I must buckle my seat belt and hang on for the ride of my life. Love alone brings in Life. I can maintain my life all the way to the grave, but unless I am willing to cast my heart into the Hands of Love, I will never actually experience Life. Unless Love is the basis of my church, it’s just another business. Unless Love is the core of my revival, it’s just another community service project. And unless Love is the Source of my reformed theology, it is just another Bible study. Quite simply, Love brings in revival or it’s nothing lasting at all.

And so faith, hope, love abide [faith—conviction and belief respecting man’s relation to God and divine things; hope—joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation; love—true affection for God and man, growing out of God’s love for and in us], these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE.  —1 Corinthians 13:13 AMP (Quote source here.)

The following is taken from the second blog post titled, Cold Love Prevents Revival”:

Most Christians know that unless we experience a revival in this world, we will never see change. We are not going to vote in change, change is going to happen through revival. And I showed how loving our neighbor is just as important as our renewed love for God. The two great commandments that encapsulate the whole of the Law and the Prophets is to “Love the Lord your God and to Love your neighbor as yourself.” I can’t have one without the other.

Dear friends, we must love each other because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7-8 GW

I see the biggest hindrance to an end time revival is cold love.

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of most will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”Matthew 24:12-13 NKJV

Our world seems to be on a crazy train where lawlessness is exponentially leaping beyond all of our previous bounds. And in the middle of our greatest need for revival, the enemy is assaulting us from within our own hearts. He knows that unless we have love for one another, we will never see revival. What better way to prevent this than to tempt us towards cold love.

“For the love of most shall wax cold.” The love that Christ refers to here is AGAPE love – God-sourced love. And because of the increase of wickedness, those who should have God-sourced love will wane, but he who endures (in love) until the end will be saved.

Wickedness rises when those who should love, resort to self-protection instead. It’s self-love to self-protect, and I say this as one who has in the past closed the doors of my heart to not be hurt again. But this is not God; on the contrary, it is satanic hatred. I have learned that I can’t close off my heart to the world in self-protection and not also close it off to God, who created that world. Unfortunately, when I do this, I begin to accuse and hate Him as the source of the problems. Only with an open loving heart can I face a fallen world with His grace. While everything in me says, “Protect, retreat, fortress!” the actual solution is to open up and love….

I have to be open to loving, both God and others, for revival to come. If I am in the cold love of self-love, I prevent that revival from coming through me and touching those around me.

Revival is LOVE! Revival happens when we have abounding love for God and open love for others. I might be tempted to withhold my love, prevent my love from happening, and remain safe in a loveless corner, but only Love sees revival. As scary as love is to embrace, being loveless is so much more frightening! (Quote source here.)

Genuine love for others and for God is the key to our own personal revival. Without it, we are, as 1 Cornithians 13:1-2 points out rather clearly, nothing. And we can’t fake real love, either. That should give us pause for thought in how we treat others (as in all others).

I’ll end this post with the words of Jesus from John 13:34 NKJV: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you…

That you also . . .

Love . . .

One another . . . .

YouTube Video: “Others” by Israel Houghton:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Waiting Game

“Be still in the presence of the Lordand wait patiently for him to act” (Psalm 37:7) —King David, second king of ancient Israel, wrote Psalm 37 when he was an old man 
Waiting is a journey that nobody likes, especially if what one is waiting for drags on for, well, decades. There is actually a definition for “waiting game” in Merriam-Webster that states: “a strategy in which one or more participants withhold action temporarily in the hope of having a favorable opportunity for more effective action later” (quote source here).

Yesterday I published a blog post on my other blog titled, Backstage: God Behind the Scenes.” Much of our waiting has to do with what God is doing “behinds the scenes” in our lives. It also has to do with what He is doing in us. However, being human, we usually have a very low tolerance for waiting for much of anything in our easy access, available 24/7 culture. In fact, we find it hard to wait for the microwave to heat our food in three minutes or less.

In an article published on September 30, 2013 in Relevant Magazine titled, 5 Reasons God Makes Us Wait,” by Eric Speir, pastor, college professor, and practical theologian, he writes:

Perhaps you know the feeling of waiting for your phone to charge?

You’ve run out of batteries, you’ve plugged the phone in and now there’s nothing to do but sit and wait? And even if it really only takes a matter of minutes (and even though it’s nothing more than a phone), you start to feel tense and anxious, wondering how long this could possibly take.

Most people don’t like to wait. We often get frustrated waiting on fast food or waiting behind the slow car in the fast lane. We are always in a rush to get to the next place or the next thing.

This mindset often carries over into our spiritual lives with us rushing to the next big thing.

But while most of us are in a hurry, it seems God is usually not in a hurry. The Scriptures say He is slow at going about things. It seems He always has a plan and a purpose for everything.

The problem with waiting is not having all the details. From our perspective, we have everything figured out and we want God to move within our time frame.

But God rarely does things according to our time frame, and because of this we can easily get discouraged. If we aren’t careful, we’ll think He’s uncaring or mad at us.

In the Gospels we see this happening to Mary and Martha while they are waiting on Jesus to come and heal their brother, Lazarus. When Jesus finally shows up, He is accused of taking too long.

God always has good reasons for making us wait. Waiting is a part of life and one of God’s tools for developing people. The Bible is full of stories of people having to wait on God, such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Jesus, Paul and countless others.

In studying the lives of these great people, I’ve discovered 5 reasons God makes us wait:

1. Waiting reveals our true motives

Waiting has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. People who don’t have good motives won’t wait long because they’re not interested in the commitment it takes to see something through. They’re too interested in short-term gains or success.

Most of us have good intentions, but a lot of what we want to accomplish is an attempt to make a name for ourselves or for our own egos. It hurts to say this, but it’s often true.

2. Waiting builds patience in our lives

Patience in waiting for small things leads to having patience in the bigger things. If we can’t wait for God to do a small thing, we certainly can’t wait for something bigger.

Our problem is our perspective is usually wrong. We tend to think the bigger things in life are finances and possessions, while God thinks influencing and changing people is more important.

3. Waiting builds anticipation

Why do children get so excited around Christmas? Because the wait has produced anticipation. We tend to appreciate things the longer we have to wait for them.

A few years ago, my family and I were going through a difficult season. We had to live with my mother-in-law for a few years. During this time the Lord assured me that one day we would own a home of our own. It took a few years to see this happen, but when the day finally came, we could hardly contain ourselves.

Because of having to wait so long, we tend to cherish and take care of it more than others might. People tend to treasure the things they have to wait for.

4. Waiting transforms our character

Waiting has a way of rubbing off the rough edges of our lives. Most of us know the story of Moses delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians. It’s a grand story of God doing great miracles.

But few sermons talk about Moses having to wait in the desert 40 years before God came to him. God used this time of waiting to transform his character. We know this because when he was a young man he was brash and impatient. In his impetuousness he killed a man and hid the body. When his sin was made public, he ran for his life and was exiled to the desert. When he was given a second chance he opted to do it God’s way and in God’s time. In the end, the Israelites were delivered from slavery and Moses became a great leader. Waiting transformed the life of Moses and it does the same for you and I.

5. Waiting builds intimacy and dependency upon God

The reason we are able to read about the great men and women of the Bible is because they all had one thing in common. They were all people who learned their success in life was directly proportionate to their intimacy and dependency upon God. For them, a relationship with God wasn’t a get rich quick scheme. For many of them it was a matter of life and death.

Waiting during the difficult times developed their relationship with God. Some of the most intimate relationships we have in our lives are because a friend stood in the trenches with us during the heat of the battle. Maybe this is what the scripture means when it says we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).

The reason we get to read the stories of these great men and women is because they went through the difficulties of life with God. In the end, they enjoyed the process with God and the promise of God.

I’ve always believed God is just as interested in the journey as he is the destination. If not, all the biblical accounts would only include the feel good parts and not the good, the bad and the ugly of the times of waiting. We may not always understand why we have to wait, but the good news is that God never asks us to wait without Him. (Quote source here.)

There is no set time frame for waiting. It can take days or weeks or months or years, even decades. And acquiring patience goes hand-in-hand with waiting. In an article published on December 8, 2014 in Patheos.com titled, 3 Bible Stories on Patience,” by Dr. Michael L. Williams, Senior Pastor of Selah Mountain Ministries, author, Christian educator and Biblical counselor, he writes:

Humanity is constantly on the move. We want fast food, fast service, and fast resolutions to high profile controversial court cases. When we do not get what we want, we get impatient and want somebody to pay for not doing something when we want it to be done. As we struggle with our own impatience, there is much we can learn by looking at three Bible stories about patience.

What is the common definition of the word patience?

The common definition of patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset” (quote source here). It is interesting that the word has the same root as the word “patient” that means suffering. For those of us that are impatient, it is clear that we often think that we are suffering when we have to be patient. The following three stories demonstrate what patience is all about.

Abraham and Sarah

God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:1-6). This was despite the fact that Abraham and his wife Sarah were unable to have children when they were younger and were too old to have children at the time of this promise. However, we do know that Abraham believed God and God accounted it to him as righteousness despite this fact (Genesis 15:5-6).

Despite God reinforcing the promise over several years, when the promise was not fulfilled right away, Sarah suggested that Abraham take Sarah’s handmaid Hagar to have a child (Genesis 16). Abraham took her advice and the resulting child was Ishmael. It was not until many years after the original promise when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 99 years old that the promise was fulfilled by the birth of Isaac through Sarah (Genesis 17:15; Genesis 21:1-8).

Because Isaac was the child of promise, not Ismael, it caused strife in the household because the inheritance of Abraham went to Isaac. The fallout from this decision continues to this day through descendants of Ishmael (Arabs) and the descendants of Isaac (Jews) as they continue to fight over who should own land in the area of Palestine.

Cornelius (Acts 10)

Cornelius was a Gentile who believed in God and lived a life that reflected a deep faith in God, but did not personally know God (Acts 10). Because of his faith, God sent an angel to speak to him and tell him to send men to Joppa to get Peter and to bring him back to Cornelius’ house. Cornelius believed what God had said through the angel and sent the men.

In the meantime, Peter was on the roof of his house praying and God gave him a vision of different types of animals, both clean and unclean according to the law. God told Peter to take and eat, but Peter responded by saying that he would never eat and unclean thing. God responded by telling Peter not to call something unclean that He, God, calls clean.

About that time, the men from Cornelius’ house showed up and Peter went down to meet them. The men, along with Peter and some of Peter’s men, left to go to Cornelius’ house. When Peter and the men arrived, the house was full of people waiting to see Peter. After some initial introductions and clarification of who Peter was, Peter preached the gospel of salvation and everyone in the house believed it and was saved by God. Of particular note was that immediately after they believed, they spoke in tongues (probably Hebrew, but we do not know), which proved to Peter’s men and later the other Apostles that the God had given the gospel to the Gentiles.

Job

Job was probably known the most as a person of patience in the Bible. In fact, the saying “the patience of Job” is commonly referred to in some circles when talking about someone with patience. A brief summary of the book of Job shows us that God considered Job to be a man who was perfect and upright in all his ways (Job 1:1, 8; Job 2:3).

Satan discussed this with God and tried to explain Job’s faith as a byproduct of God’s protection. However, God allowed Satan to test Job by attacking Job’s livelihood, his family, and his physical body. Satan’s attack was so vicious that even Job’s wife told him that he should curse God and die. Despite this, Job rebuked his own wife, and refused to curse God (Job 2:9-10).

Throughout the book of Job, we find that Job search for answers as to why this had happened to him. His friends tried to advise him but, their advice was somewhat contradictory and accusing of Job of deserving what had happened. It was not until Job examined himself and cried out to God that God answered Him and set Job straight. Job believed what God said, and God blessed Job abundantly above and beyond what he had done in the past.

What can we learn from these stories?

The common thread in each of these stories is that each of these persons believed what God said. However, we also see three levels of patience. In the account of Abraham, he and Sarah had patience to a point, but because of their impatience over how long it was taking, they decided to take matters into their own hands to produce a child. The result of their impatience is directly responsible for conflict today between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Isaac. This teaches us that not having patience can sometimes have long lasting effects that affect many generations (Isaiah 30:15-18).

In the account of Cornelius, we see a man who had patience enough to follow what God said to do even though there was no mention as to why he was to send men to get Peter. Without knowing even if Peter would come, he called his family and friends to his house to wait for Peter. The result of this was that everyone who had patience with Cornelius to wait and see what would happen were saved. This teaches us that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we not only must have patience with God, but also have patience with each other (Romans 12:10-21).

In the account of Job, we see a man who had patience to continue to trust that God would give him an answer to his trials. Job had the patience to listen to the advice of his wife, his friends, and even his own self-examination, yet decided to wait upon the Lord for His answer. His own wife and friends tried to offer an answer for why God allows him to go through a trial, but Job waited for God’s answer. This teaches us that when we go through times of testing we often do not see why God allowed it to happen until many years later when we can look back and understand exactly why God allowed it in the light of God’s calling for today (Ecclesiastes 7:7-10).

Conclusion

Patience really does entail suffering on some level. However, when we continue to seek God’s intervention in the matter instead of our own, He blesses us and shows us at some point how He uses it to our good and to His glory (Romans 5:3-5; Galatians 6:9). (Quote source here.)

So whatever it is you may be waiting for, whether you’ve been waiting for days or decades, continue to believe in God, and wait for His perfect timing. I’ll end this post with Habakkuk 2:3For the vision is yet for an appointed time…. Though it tarries… 

Wait for it . . .

For it will surely come . . .

It will not delay . . . .

YouTube Video: “Worth the Wait” by 33 Miles:

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