How Long Do We Wait?
“Christians need to embrace the fact that God teaches us through waiting and then accomplishes his purposes while we are waiting”
How long do we have to wait? Another week passes with the announcement of continued restrictions of our freedoms. It is frustrating. The current PCOR conditions are fragmenting our church’s fellowship. People in our church have grown distant without there being opportunity to gather in person. I find myself tracking people down through social media asking how they are holding up because I haven’t heard from them in months. I wrote to us recently about the need for compliance with the governor’s executive order because God’s Word compels me to. But I recognize the mixed emotions people have over these orders. Many in our church have lost work, their jobs, and some are even under the threat of losing their business if they haven’t already.
I have been speaking with other pastors on the island about writing a letter to our governor to urge at the least a better middle ground. My thought is to leverage the position pastors have in the community and our at-hand knowledge of the pandemic strife our spiritual constituents face. An allied effort by pastors may help an appeal have greater weight. In the mean time…we wait, and there are two things Christians should know about waiting.
First, waiting is a constant Christian reality. In one sense a Christian is never in a state of “not waiting” because we should all be waiting in earnest for the return of Christ. His return is described as imminent – which means it is hanging over our head and soon. Hebrews 10:37 alerts readers to the nearness of His return when it says, “For in just a little while, ‘He who is coming will come and will not delay’.” Over and over again the New Testament prepares us for a state of readiness as we wait. This urgency in waiting should spur Christians towards making good use of our time and not be wasteful in waiting—because we are always waiting.
Second, Christians need to embrace the fact that God teaches us through waiting and then accomplishes his purposes while we are waiting. I have been thinking on this truth recently and was driven to seek out people who God made to wait and how long. What was God doing during the waiting? Reading through these was an encouragement to me of God’s ultimate purposes when we wait.
- Noah waited 120 years while building the ark and preaching – only his family and animals responded. And he waited 370 days on the ark – but God saved his family and the human race.
- Abraham waited 25 years between the promise of a son and his son Isaac’s birth – but God bore a nation through that promise.
- Jacob waited 7 years for Rachel working for her father who tricked him – but God gave him the woman he loved to marry.
- Joseph waited 13 years as a slave and prisoner – but God positioned him to save his family from death.
- Jochebed waited, watching her son Moses float down the river as a baby in a basket – but God directed that baby to Pharaoh’s wife and safety.
- Moses waited 40 years in exile as a shepherd – but God delivered his people from slavery after calling him back to Egypt
- Joshua and Caleb, though faithful spies, waited 40 years while an unfaithful generation wandered the desert – but God led them into the promise land.
- Esther waited patiently for her plan to fall into place – God saved the Jewish people from genocide.
- Job waited at least 7 days and nights in silent suffering – but God restored him.
- Hannah waited year after year being grievously provoked and barren while asking God for a child – but God gave her a son in Samuel who became one of Israel’s prominent prophets.
- David waited 15 years between his anointing and becoming king while at times running for his life – But God made him king, Israel’s greatest.
- Daniel waited 21 days while fasting and mourning when the answer to his prayer was delayed by angelic warfare – but God answered
- Paul waited 4-5 years in prison – but God gave us many of our New Testament books through Paul’s letters from prison.
- Jesus waited 30 years before he began his ministry – and God gave us the free gift of salvation.
Do you notice that God did something at the end of all these waiting periods? We should be encouraged that waiting faithfully is not wasteful. God’s servants are never in control of the waiting periods, only our response in them. This is why James 1:2-4 encourages us to remain steadfast so that our waiting, “can have it’s full effect.” I hope you can be encouraged by this truth.
There is another list too that can be compiled of people in the Bible who prematurely ended waiting periods. It doesn’t end well for them. Go back and read through the list above and be encouraged that God is doing something in our waiting. Appropriate reactions above are praying, fasting, ministering, living and working, enduring provocation, and sometimes putting a plan together to help end the waiting as Esther did. Let us do the same with faith in God’s purposes while we wait.
Pastor Kevin Elwell