A Christian approach to waiting (Part 4)

This week’s blog post continues my series on the topic of waiting.

In Romans 5:3-6, Paul writes:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Paul tells us that while we are waiting for God to save us, we suffer. But this suffering produces a lot of good in us, as it endows us with endurance, which builds character and births hope. Christ creates these good qualities in us while we wait. So waiting is not just an inconvenience that we have to endure before we can get what we want. Waiting shapes us into the person that God wants us to be.

Some notes about what waiting on the Lord is not. It is not burying your head in the sand, waiting passively for something that will help you escape your trouble. It is not an excuse not to face up to reality, take responsibility or act in a way that is needed.

Waiting on the Lord is a confident, disciplined, expectant, active and sometimes painful clinging to God.

Waiting on the Lord requires patient trust. You have to trust that God has good reasons for making you wait. You have to remember that God looks at time differently because He views it from an eternal perspective.  As Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:8 – “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.”

Waiting on the Lord requires confident humility. Waiting is only something that the humble can gracefully do. When you wait, you realise that you are not in control. In modern societies, waiting is linked to status. The higher your status, the less you have to wait. Lower-status people always have to wait longer than higher status ones. An example would be special VIP lines that allow wealthy, trendy beautiful people to skip the queue at a hot night-club. I also read of a story about a busy CEO who was so frustrated at having to sit in a doctor’s waiting room that he actually sent the doctor a bill for his time.

Waiting is humbling because it drives home the point that you are not in charge – and that’s humbling. But when Christians wait, they are not just killing time, they are waiting on God. So you can trust God’s wisdom and timing. You can wait with confidence.

As Lewis Smedes writes:

Waiting is our destiny as creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for.

We wait in the darkness for a flame we cannot light.

We wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write.

We wait for a not yet that feels like a not ever.

Waiting is the hardest work of hope.