Waiting is much like an airplane in a holding pattern before landing. It feels like you are going around in circles for nothing. What isn’t apparent though, is that the control tower is making sure that all is clear. Holding patterns prevent disaster. It seems that waiting is a big part of life: waiting for medical test results, waiting in shopping lines, waiting to hear if you passed a certification exam. Other times, waiting is something that God asks us to do: waiting for His direction in a career change, waiting for the right person to marry, waiting for the right time to start a new ministry. So how do you have peace while waiting for God to act?
Does waiting for God mean doing nothing?
Quite the contrary. Life does not stop. We still have responsibilities while waiting for God to act. We need to continue:
- Encouraging one another
- Loving our neighbors
- Growing in our love and devotion to God
- Doing our hobbies
- Getting together with friends.
Continuing on in our responsibilities and recreation helps relieve stress and a sense of restlessness while we are waiting for God to act.
What are the consequences of not waiting for God?
“While society makes every attempt to make our life easier and faster, God works on a very different timetable.” (1)
Whenever Bible characters took matters into their own hands, it resulted in running aground, a shipwreck as pictured above. They lived to regret the consequences. And in many instances, the consequences were passed on to subsequent generations. King Saul’s life was ruined and he lost his kingdom by not waiting for God. (First Samuel 13:11-14)
The same is true today. It never pays to get ahead of the Lord just because we are impatient, panicked, or don’t understand. When we take matters into our own hands we are not trusting God.
“Those who fail to wait on God embrace their own demise.” (2)
What does the Bible say about waiting for God to act?
There are many scriptures in the Old Testament that use the word “wait”. There seem to be different degrees of waiting which are expressed through four different words in the original language. (3)
- active waiting with anticipation, hopeful, watching for God to act (qavah)
- expectant, hopeful waiting (yachal)
- writhing, anxious longing (chuwl)
- long standing desperate wait (chakah)
All of these types of waiting use emotional energy. The longer we wait the wearier we can become. I believe that is why there are numerous scriptures that talk about receiving strength and courage when we wait on the Lord.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)
“But they that 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)
“Oh my STRENGTH, I will watch for you, for you, O God, you are my fortress.” (Psalm 59:9)
“Do not say, ‘I will repay evil’; wait for the LORD, and he will deliver you.” (Proverbs 20:22)
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time … If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3).
Bible characters who waited for God’s timing
Noah had never experienced rain so he did not have first-hand experience with flooding. Neither did his neighbors. He endured ridicule from those neighbors as he did what God asked him to do in his waiting. The reward? When the time was right, Noah and his family were saved.
I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been to be sold into slavery, not knowing if he would ever see his father again. In the beginning, Joseph seemed to have favor with his captors, until he was falsely accused of rape. For years, the prison was his home. Yet, scripture does not record complaining on his part. Joseph knew that God was with him. When the waiting was over, God used him to save his family and the nation of Egypt. This all came about because Joseph was waiting in the right place (not one of his choosing), at the right time (during the prime of his life when he could have been climbing the corporate ladder), and with the right attitude.
Can you imagine how boring it had to have been to be alone for years in the desert? I am sure he learned a lot about himself and about God, as the Almighty was his only company, except maybe an occasional jackal or other desert creature. This isolation and waiting was his training for a job of monumental importance. He had to know God well before undertaking the leadership of his people in the mass exodus from Egypt.
How ridiculous it must have felt to be walking around the walls of Jerrico in silence for the 5th day in a row. And the citizens of that fortified city – what must they have been thinking? On the last day, the walls fell and the city was conquered. The first days were practice for what God was going to do when the time was right. It was a type of holding pattern.
Jesus spent 30 years preparing for a ministry that was to last only 3 years. Every day of preparation was just as important as the 3 short years of service. Jesus understands our waiting.
How to have peace while waiting for God to act
We should never underestimate what God is doing while we wait. Sometimes, it is to prepare us. Sometimes, it is to prepare others. And, it is always to bring about the will of God.
Part of having peace while waiting for God to act is realizing that the temptation to take things into our own hands can be overcome.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (First Corinthians 10:13)
So friends, keep on keeping on.
Pray. Talk to God and pray with friends.
Thank God in advance for all He is doing that you can not see and don’t understand yet.
Recite scripture and claim God’s promises. (Micah 7:7, Psalm 5:3, Psalm 130:5-6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 37:7-8, Psalm 27:13-14, Psalm 27:13, Lamentations 3:25, Acts 1:4, Colossians 4:2, Isaiah 30:18)
As you go about your daily activities, remember that you are in training.
When you feel restless and after you have thanked God for this season in your life, find a distraction. “Stimulate your senses such as splashing cold water on your face, take a hot shower, eat something salty or sour.” (4) Exercise vigorously. Breathe slowly and deeply. Call a friend. Listen to uplifting music. Get out in nature.
A gift for you as you wait for God to act
This scripture card is to remind you that you can have peace while waiting for God to act. He gives us strength in the waiting. Simply click on the image to download. NO EMAIL REQUIRED.
- (1) https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-is-working-in-your-waiting
- (2) https://theblazingcenter.com/2017/01/the-surprising-sin-of-not-waiting-on-god.html
- (3) https://hebrewwordlessons.com/2019/05/19/qavah-what-are-you-waiting-for/
- (4) https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-to-do-when-you-have-to-wait-and-cant-stop-worrying/
- All scripture is from the ESV unless otherwise noted.