For many of us, waiting is unpleasant. We have an agenda, and waiting is an obstacle. Waiting implies that someone or something is intervening or does not comply with our wishes. It also implies dependence on others. Things are out of our control. We understand that waiting, while not to our liking, is necessary in our physical life, but do we understand its spiritual value?
God’s Word pronounces a tremendous blessing on those who have found the grace of waiting. “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” (Isa. 40:31). The word picture is intended to offer that which seems to be impossible. Who can fly like an eagle? Who can run, or even walk, and not grow weary?
Life, and especially Christian life, brings many situations that require knowledge and strength beyond our normal capacities. Heavy responsibilities are placed upon us. Crushing disappointments come. Then there are times when life seems to be going nowhere while others are moving full steam ahead. Ill health and financial reverses are all within the scope of life. And then how do we run and not weary?
Quiet waiting on God is the blessing of the humble. Only when we know and respect God’s wisdom, even as we have learned to know our own limitations, can we be quiet in our spirits. Humility opens the door for Him to comfort. Only the humble will quietly listen for His counsel. Then, as an attentive table waiter, we can be alert for the moment the Master wishes to send us on an errand or ask for the use of the talents He entrusted to us.
A child would sooner be justified in being impatient and doubting his parents than we are to second-guess God or insist on our opinions. The span between the child’s knowledge and abilities and those of his parents is vastly less than the contrast between God’s wisdom and power and ours. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). Why then should we resist God?
But some cannot submit to waiting. They hustle about, intent on making things happen to their advantage. “No” or “wait” are not acceptable answers. While such an attitude may be effective in politics or business, it has little place in the Lord’s work. Our human impatience is often due to shortsightedness or selfishness. Peace and impatience are incompatible.
Frustrated and fearful saints discredit God. When we become fearful or doubtful about the future and whether we or the church will be able to stand, we need to wait on God. Waiting on God means lifting up the needs we see in ourselves and others, confident that He has the solution. Thus we unload our burdens and leave the matter with the One to whom it pertains. God is never confused or wondering what to do. So often we assume the responsibility of others’ needs and problems and load ourselves with unnecessary burdens. We must let God be God.
Some may subconsciously feel there is virtue in a negative feeling about the state of affairs in the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit does impart vision and discernment. Spiritually-minded people will see sin and perilous times for what they are. But negativism is no more virtuous than unrealistic optimism. It is right to honestly face the facts, but the faithful will be fully aware that God has the perfect solution for every challenge. They can cheerfully put their shoulders to any task, knowing that they are serving the One who has the master plan.
David was a man who was unwilling to move until he had understood God’s will. His history, recorded in First and Second Samuel mentions numerous occasions when he asked God what he should do (see 2 Samuel 2:1 as an example). The result was a man who was remarkably successful. He stands in contrast to King Saul who, when in crisis, could not wait on God’s direction.
The difference between a builder in the kingdom and a placeholder is knowing God. David knew God. He chose to believe Him and saw Him repeatedly open doors and give victories. That experience sustained him through the years in the wilderness of Judea, hated and pursued by Saul. It gave him the wisdom to spare Saul’s life and wait on God to accomplish His will in His time when it would have been so easy to destroy his adversary and promote himself. Knowing God gave him the grace to accept reproof and amend his ways when he failed. As a result, God was able to use him to build the kingdom of Israel far beyond human abilities.
Waiting on God laid a foundation for David to become the sweet singer of Israel. His psalms show the full range of human emotions, but they are always undergirded with admiration and faith in the God he knew intimately. Waiting on God energized David to confront Israel’s enemies, plan a beautiful temple, and write superlative poetry. Waiting on God caused him to take a back-seat in leading the army when his generals counseled him that way. Waiting on God allowed him to submit when he so much wanted to build the temple. Even rejection and mutiny by his favorite son could not rob him of hope that God’s will would be done.
King Saul was a placeholder. Duly anointed to his prestigious position, he proudly occupied the throne, but without grace. His efforts at leadership crashed. He was impulsive, inconsistent, and tormented. His contributions to the overall good of Israel were minimal. Such is the difference between those who know God and wait on Him and those who do not.
Those who wait on God have their whole life committed to His purposes. They bring home their paycheck, they raise their families, and they enjoy their social life, always with an eye out for Him. Their days begin and end with thoughts of God.
There is a word to be said for the “doer.” Complacency and laziness are not virtues. Inactivity is not necessarily godliness. Waiting on God does not mean being a spectator of life. Armchair critics are plentiful and detrimental. We need not join their party.
Even God waits. He waited in the days of Noah until the time was ripe. He waited for the opportune year to send His Son to this world. He is now waiting to thrust in the sickle. He waits until His actions can bring about the desired end. If God waits for the opportune moment, why should we not be willing to do the same?
From Messenger of Truth, Vol. 113, No. 01, January 7, 2015