Are you waiting for something? Is there any better description of our daily lives than waiting? When are we not waiting for something?
Maybe today you are waiting for your first child to be born or to hear if you are getting that long desired promotion or for a friend to call you back or for the decision on whether you are getting that new job or for your spouse to finally catch on or for your child to actually obey or for your boss to recognize your hard work or for God to answer any of your prayers or for someone to meet you for lunch or for that sinking feeling of depression to go away or for a friend to apologize or for Jesus to return.
Waiting… we are always waiting for something.
The Journey Means Something
Think about some examples of waiting we see in the Bible:
- Noah waiting for a world-wide flood and then waiting for the waters to recede
- Abraham waiting for his promised son through Sarah
- Moses’s parents waiting until the right time to put him in the Nile (in a basket).
- The Israelites waiting to enter the promised land
- Ruth waiting to see if Boaz was her kinsman-redeemer
- Rahab waiting to find out if the Israelites would keep their word not to harm her
- David waiting for his time to become king
- The Israelites waiting to come out of exile
- The Israelites waiting for their Messiah
- Simeon waiting to see the Lord’s Christ before his death
- Christians waiting to see Jesus return
The posture of waiting is a perpetual reality in the narrative of the Bible, which is why it is a perpetual reality in our lives. We can become much too fixated on the waiting instead of remembering who we are waiting with. No doubt it helps to wait with family and friends that we know and love, but it is even better to consider that our waiting is with Someone who has loved us abundantly.
One purpose for the journey of waiting is to learn more about the God who has saved us and who is conforming us more into the image of His Son. That sampling of examples above of those who have waited throughout the Bible display for us how God has been faithful, providential, sovereign, caring, loving, truthful, a promise-keeper, redeemer, savior, and so on. We can learn and experience an abundance of truth regarding the infinite number of glorious attributes of the God who is with us in our journey of waiting.
So do you wait well? I think the easy answer is probably not. I dare say that almost nobody waits well or maybe they wait well for one thing but the other twenty things not so much.
Sometimes Waiting Turns Bad
Consider when waiting has turned ugly in the Bible to learn from these as well:
- Adam and Eve didn’t wait when they ate the forbidden fruit
- Abraham didn’t wait for his promised son, so Ishmael was born
- The Israelites didn’t wait for God’s provision in the wilderness so they complained
In that small selection we see the huge ramifications when we don’t wait well. No doubt, we can make some very poor decisions when our waiting has turned impatient, self-absorbed, and unthankful for the circumstance we find ourselves in.
So it would seem we should think about this some.
Look At Your Waiting
Think about how you are waiting today. Do you find anxious thoughts leading the way? Are you devising ways to speed up your waiting? Would those around you consider you grumpy as you wait? Maybe you are irritable because things aren’t happening as quickly as you want them or believe they should happen?
Being able to step back and observe how you are responding to a situation is God’s gift to you. Our lack of patience and peace in waiting is our opportunity to see what we are valuing most at that moment. Let that sink in for a moment to feel the gravity of that reality. Even as we are waiting for something, we are all chasing after something. When our waiting elicits anxiety, worry, doubt, unfaithfulness, unkindness, fear, or some other ungodly response, then we can know we are chasing after our desire to be king of our throne.
Our responses in life are mirrors for us to see what we really are in that moment. We are needy people in need of something better than what we are chasing to obtain.
Maybe you are thinking to yourself that you wait just fine because you are ignoring what you are waiting for or trying to not think about what you are waiting for or trying to occupy yourself with something else to distract your waiting. These are all temporary measures that simply delay your anxious thoughts of waiting instead of embracing your waiting as God’s gift to you.
The multitude of circumstances that God ordains in our lives does at least three things. First, God is giving us experiential knowledge into who He is. We will learn just how gracious God is in all our waiting. Second, we will learn tons about ourselves if we would just stop and look in the mirror. We will see our personal throne-chasing ways. We will see the ugliness of our sin. We will see our need for Someone outside ourselves to help us and to save us. Finally, as we learn more about who God is and who we are, then we see the gloriousness of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever stopped and thought about what waiting meant for Jesus? Here is the Eternal King wrapping himself in human flesh and living among us. Why? Because Jesus was to wait for just the right time to announce that His Kingdom had come. As part of that first coming, Jesus needed to substitute himself in place of humankind to pay the penalty for their sin in order that these same people could have everlasting fellowship with God.
So Jesus waited. He waited for thirty years being a son of a carpenter. Every day was one day closer to his ultimate purpose of taking on the wrath of God for all people who would believe in Him. We can’t even imagine what that waiting must have been like. We stress out waiting in line for a cup of coffee. Jesus was waiting YEARS for that moment when all the wrath due to humankind that had stored up for all time, past, present, and future would be laid on his shoulders.
And Jesus waited perfectly. Even as his mother Mary tried to hurry up his waiting, Jesus replied to her, “My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4b) After Jesus announced his coming at his baptism, he still needed to wait three more years before his death.
Do you think it was hard for Jesus to wait? What kind of pressure did he feel being the perfect Son of God? As Jesus was preparing to pray in Gethsemane, think about what he said to his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38) Think about what he prayed to God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” (Matthew 26:39a) His waiting was excruciating!
Yet, Jesus waited perfectly. Even as he shares his overwhelming sorrow and prays for that cup to be taken from him, he says, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39b) Jesus waited perfectly.
So How Do We Wait?
First, we fix our gaze on Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We see his example, and we see that he waited perfectly.
Second, we believe and trust by faith that Jesus accomplished what we are unable to do on our own. Jesus waited because he knew we couldn’t. Jesus died a death he knew we couldn’t die. Jesus was raised to life because he knew we could not have life without him.
Finally, we wait through the power of the Holy Spirit that was made possible through the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He did not just give us an example to follow because that would crush us. Jesus lived in perfect obedience to empower our obedience, which is happening as we are enthralled with our incredible Savior that has our gaze. Jesus loves us. Our reasonable response is to love him in return.
Fix your gaze on Jesus. Know and learn who God is. Look in the mirror to see the sinful dross that needs purifying. Trust and obey that Jesus lives so that we can live. Jesus waited so that you could wait.