Strength in Waiting

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You will agree, I’m sure, that we live in an age of instant gratification. We don’t like to wait for anything. Everything from deliveries to work replies must arrive in an instant. We recognise that this culture causes us to lose things like patience and a balanced work life, but it’s the age in which we are raised and it is difficult to break out of it.

Because we expect things to happen instantly, we sometimes struggle when we don’t see instant results. But one lesson we learn from the Bible is that God does not always work according to our timetable. Psalm 69 reminds us of this truth.

David prayed in this psalm for deliverance. The opposition he experienced was not God’s punishment for sin. He was suffering for God’s sake (v. 7). In New Testament parlance, he was suffering as a Christian. The New Testament commends this kind of suffering, though it is never pleasant. David longed for deliverance and prayed accordingly. But he needed to learn that God was not as concerned about instant gratification as he was. “At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness” (v. 13). He did not find waiting for God’s answers easy (“my eyes grow dim with waiting for my God” [v. 3]) but he realised that learning to wait was necessary.

David was not alone. You know the feeling, I’m sure. Human beings do not like to wait. We want instant gratification. If our greatest problems are not solved within thirty minutes, we feel that it has been too long. We pray for that job and expect an offer by the end of the day. We pray for the salvation of a loved one and expect a profession of faith by Thursday. We pray for God to make our path plain and sit in anticipation of an instant answer.

We must realise that waiting is an essential element in our spiritual growth. Waiting on the Lord builds our spiritual muscles. “They who wait for 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” (Isaiah 40:31).

As difficult as it is for us to wait on the Lord, it does us great good to reflect on the benefits of waiting on him. Consider some of the benefits that arise as we are forced to wait on the Lord.

First, waiting on the Lord strengthens our prayer life. The longer we wait for an answer, the more we become aware of our dependence, and the more we fall on our knees.

Second, waiting on the Lord strengthens our faith. If “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), surely waiting for what we cannot see can only work to strengthen our faith?

Third, waiting on the Lord strengthens our conviction in divine sovereignty. We may affirm intellectually that the Lord is sovereign, but only when we are forced to wait on him do we see the sovereignty of God in practical application. When we are stripped of our illusions of control, we learn to rest more in divine sovereignty.

Finally, waiting on the Lord strengthens our confidence in certain hope. After all, “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24–25). As we are forced to wait for God’s answers to our prayers, it reminds us that our ultimate hope is not in the here and now but in the eternal state.

As you head into a new week, laying before God your burdens and your needs, allow the inevitable times of waiting to strengthen your faith in him.