One of the hardest parts about Christmas as a kid was waiting for it to come. The month of December seemed to drag on forever. One of the longest seeming Decembers was when I was six.
That year, I asked Santa for an American Girl doll (the epitome of greatness for little girls at the time). I even saved up half of the money for said doll in a deal that my parents made with Santa. I could not wait until I would hold that doll in my hands. I dreamed about that doll. I played with the American Girl catalogue that had a life-sized picture of the doll in it in preparation.
God Makes His People Wait
There have been many more things that I have had to wait for since. I’ll be honest. I hate waiting. It’s so frustrating. But it’s a part of life and it always has been. God doesn’t hide the prevalence of waiting. In fact, the word “wait” is used 129 times in the Bible. That’s a lot of waiting.
Last week we focused on all the promises that God made to the people of Israel and to humanity as a whole. Yes, God fulfilled those promises and He is faithful, but he also has a tendency to make us wait.
As we mentioned last week, God made Abraham wait many, many years before he fulfilled the promise He made to give him a son. He made Israel wait hundreds of years before giving them the land that He promised them. There are 400 years of silence and waiting between the end of the Old Testament with its promises of a Messiah and the beginning of the New with His arrival. There are probably at least a thousand years, possibly more between God’s original promise to crush Satan in Genesis 3 and Jesus’ arrival.
It can seem at times like God is just a masochist, dragging things out in order to make our lives miserable. But that’s not the case. Though we might not be able to understand God’s “slowness” at times, the Bible does give us a few reasons why God takes His time.
Why Does God Make Us Wait?
We Need to Grow
One is because we still have some growing or learning to do. In the book of Exodus when God leads the Israelites out of Egypt, God doesn’t take them to the Promised Land by the fastest route. Instead, “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea” (Exodus 13:17-18).
The Israelites needed to become more confident before they could face such fierce enemies. God took them through the desert so that he could teach them to trust Him, to give them time to grow in relationship with Him. Sometimes God does the same thing with us. He makes us wait because there’s something we need to grow in before we face the things He’s planned for us.
God Has an Eternal Perspective
Another reason God gives for his supposed “slowness” is because He has a different perspective. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” God has a different perspective on things, an eternal perspective. Sometimes what might seem good to us in the short term is actually bad in the long term.
Don’t Waste The Wait
So God’s going to make us wait. We should just get used to that fact. But what are we supposed to do while we’re waiting? Just whine about why it’s taking so long? No, probably not. Though God does give us permission to be frustrated with Him. There are several Psalm that focus on waiting on the Lord. In many cases they’re filled with talk about groaning. Waiting can be really hard. God knows that. You can call out to Him and tell Him that. But you must never forget that He is faithful and will do what He has promised.
So if we’re not whining, what should we do? Twiddle our thumbs? No. We should get busy and get prepared! No matter what it is that you’re waiting on, there’s a way you can prepare. Maybe you’re waiting on a relationship. Get prepared. Read up on relationships. Study the couples around you to see what they do well and what they don’t do so well. Work on developing healthy platonic relationships as preparation. Whatever it is you’re waiting on, there’s something that you can do to keep busy and prepare.
We’re All Waiting for Something: Christ!
There’s one thing that we’re all waiting one and that we all should be preparing for and that’s Christ return. At Christmas we celebrate that Christ came in the past, but it also reminds us that Christ is coming again. We have to wait for Him in the meantime. Mark 13:32-37 tells us that we should get ready for this big event because we have no idea when it’s coming. We don’t want to waste our waiting.
How do we get ready for Christ’s return? Romans 13:11-4 gives us a glimpse of the answer. It reminds us that we should put aside darkness and the things that are done in the dark and instead live in the light. We should let the light of Christ shine through us through our words and our deeds. Every action, every word, every plan should bring God the glory He deserves.
We Don’t Always Get to See What We’re Waiting For
I should note that there are times that we don’t get to see the thing that we’ve been waiting for. Eve never got to see the child that would undo her choice in the garden. Abraham never got to see his offspring become a great nation. Moses got to see from afar but didn’t get to enter the Promised Land. There are times that we don’t see the thing that God has promised us. But that doesn’t make him any less faithful. Hebrews 11 assures us of that. Faith goes beyond ourselves and recognizes that the ends are greater than our part in them or what we get to see.
There’s no doubt that waiting can be hard. It can even be painful. Whether you’re waiting on a life circumstance to chance, a new job, a sense of purpose, a future spouse, a child, or any other thing precious to your heart just know that God is faithful. Though His timing may be different than ours, He was faithful to the nation of Israel, He is faithful to humanity as a whole, and He will be faithful to you. It might not come at the time you want or the way that you pictured it, but God will be faithful to you. Don’t waste your waiting!