“His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour. The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.” William Cowper
We spend much of our lives waiting. Waiting for simple, everyday pleasures, like that first cup of coffee in the morning, or a long overdue lunch. Waiting in line. Waiting for the day to be over. Waiting for the weekend. Waiting on a special day to arrive. Waiting for relief.
Learning to wait, and wait with patience, is a sign of maturity, which we achieve with varying levels of success at different stages of life.
Romans 8:25. If we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
And we’ve all heard the old stand-by story about the man who prayed, “Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now.”
But “waiting” is neither easy nor a laughing matter. Not when the comfort, security, health, peace we desire for ourselves and those we love is so pressing, so necessary, so urgent.
Waiting can often lead to despair.
This is perhaps why there are so many verses about waiting on God.
Psalm 27: 14. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.
But what are we to do when waiting is hard—as it most often is?
Here are some truths to remember.
God’s plan takes time to unfold.
Numbers 23:19. God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
F. B. Meyer uses Joseph as his example.
Joseph was best-loved by his father and as a result, resented by his brothers. They sold him into slavery and told their father he was dead. Then Pharaoh’s daughter lied about Joseph’s trying to force himself on her, and he ended up in prison. But he was there…in Egypt…in prison…waiting, while God carried out His plan for the salvation of his people.
“God as much sent Joseph to the drudgery and discipline of the prison as to the glory and responsibility of the palace. Nothing happens to us which is not included in His plan for us; and the incidents which seem most tiresome are often contrived to give us opportunities to become nobler, stronger characters.
We are called to be faithful in performing our assigned duties. Not brilliance, not success, not notoriety which attracts the world’s notice, but the regular, quiet, and careful performance of trivial and common duties; faithfulness in that which is least is as great an attainment in God’s sight as in the greatest.”
God’s plan has an expected end.
Jeremiah 29:11. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
In his book Exploring Romans, John Phillips uses Job as his example, discussing one of the best known passages on developing patience, Romans 5: 3-5.
Job was being tested. He lost his livelihood, his children, his health. His wife criticized him. His friends taunted him. Eventually, God rises to his defense, puts his friends to silence, and restores what Job lost.
“There is a melting process, a mellowing process, a molding process, and a maturing process. The maturing power of tribulation is well illustrated in the case of Job.
First Job is in the hands of Satan, then in the hands of men, and finally in the hands of God.
At the hand of Satan: Job received tribulation and it wrought in him patience.
At the hand of man his patience was sorely tried, but through it all he gained experience.
It was far easier for Job to triumph over the calamities he received at the hand of Satan than to triumph over the criticisms he received from his friends.
In the hands of God, Job came triumphantly through at last to that hope which maketh not ashamed.”
God’s plan teaches dependence on Him.
Luke 18: 1 And [Jesus] spake…unto them…that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
While you wait, keep praying.
Charles Spurgeon reminds us always to ask God for our daily needs.
“Give us this day our daily bread.
Every word has a lesson in it:
We beg of God to give it to us, not sell it to us, nor lend it to us, but give it. The greatest of men must be beholden to the mercy of God for their daily bread.
We pray, Give it to us, not to me only but to others in common with me. This teaches us charity and a compassionate concern for the poor and needy.
We pray that God would give us this day, which teaches us to renew the desire of our souls toward God, and reckon we could as well go a day without meat as without prayer.
We ask for our bread; that teaches us honesty and industry; we do not ask for the bread out of other people’s mouths, but the bread honestly gotten.
We ask for our daily bread, which teaches us not to take thought for the morrow, but constantly to depend upon divine Providence.
We ask for bread; that teaches us sobriety and temperance; we ask for bread, not dainties.”
Isaiah 40:31 But 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.
Teach us, Lord, to wait.