Why do we have so many fast food chains? Why are ready meals so popular? It’s because we don’t like to wait.
If you want to have a quick meal, you can simply go to a drive-thru at McDonald’s and order a Happy Meal. However, if you want a feast, you know you will have to wait a while. Large meals are not prepared all of a sudden, no matter what TV commercials say. I have never seen anyone putting food in the microwave because they thought it would be tastier than if prepared in the oven or cooked in a saucepan. We choose ready meals when we’re in a rush to eat. We use the oven when we want to eat well.
The plans and the promises of God are not ready meals. God slowly prepares His plan and His people, extracting the best from them. You can almost always expect that God will make you wait, because He has what is best prepared for you. He is never late and is rarely in a hurry. However, I assure you: When God’s plan is that you wait; He will make the wait worthwhile.
By studying the life of David, we find that he spent a good part of his life waiting. He had to wait for about fifteen years since he was anointed by Samuel to become the king of Judah. And he had to wait another seven years to be anointed king over all Israel. That means he waited more than twenty years to be king.
We should begin by noticing that the promise made by God to Israel and David took a long time to be fulfilled. David becomes king of Israel after a considerable amount of time and a lot of adversity. This is the subject of 1 Samuel 16: 1 and 2 Samuel 5: 5. This period of David’s life can be summed up in two words: “time” and “problem”.
The long time it took for David to become king of Israel is not unusual, but it’s the typical way of God to fulfill His promises and purposes. God is not in a hurry. He has all the time in the world. In fact, God is much greater than time and certainly is not limited by it. Throughout the Bible we see God promising things that men need to wait to receive:
- God promised a son to Abram and Sarai, but they had to wait 25 years.
- God promised Noah that there would be a flood of waters, but it took a long time to happen.
- God made Jacob wait for seven years to have the wife he wanted.
- Joseph had to wait a considerable amount of time to see his brothers and his family again, and failed to return to their land until after his death (his bones were carried until the people of Israel got to the Promised Land).
- The Israelites had to wait 430 years in Egypt before returning to the Promised Land.
- The writer of Hebrews tells us that all the saints of the Old Testament had to wait for us (the Gentiles) before they can see the promised kingdom (Heb. 11: 39-40).
- During 2,000 years the saints have been waiting for the return of our Lord and the coming of His kingdom.
Waiting is part of the divine plan. The wait is not an accident, it is on purpose/it has a purpose.
Also, many people fail in faith and obedience to God while they wait: waiting is a form of adversity, a trial of our faith and perseverance.
“For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” (1 Pet. 2:20)
Many of the flaws we see in the Bible are related to waiting. We can see it from the beginning with Adam and Eve. If we pay attention to the story of the fall, we’ll see the temptation to take a shortcut to accomplish something the Lord was preparing for them. The knowledge of good and evil, in itself, was not the issue. If Adam and Eve would become “like God” knowing good and evil, how could this be bad? Is it bad to be like God? Is not that what God is doing to us, conforming us to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29)? Won’t we be “like Him” when “we see Him as He is” (1 John 3: 2)? Wasn’t David praised for “knowing good and evil” (2 Sam. 14:17)? Solomon prayed for wisdom, to discern between “good and evil” (1 Kin. 3: 9). Christians, by obedience to the Word of God, “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). We see that God wanted Adam and Eve to have this knowledge, but not by the fast and easy way eat, in secret, the forbidden fruit. It was not wrong to know good and evil, but to know it in a way that God had forbidden. I believe God had a better and slower way of doing it, but they preferred the shortcut. They did not want to wait on the Lord for that knowledge.
Abraham and Sarah had to wait for the promised son and, at least one of their failures was in the field of patience, to wait on God for the fulfillment of His promise. Wasn’t it why Abraham said to be the Eliezer of Damascus, his heir (Gen. 15: 2)? Wasn’t it also why Abram gave in to Sarai’s advice to have the promised heir with her servant Hagar (Gen. 16: 1-2)?
As described in Exodus 32, the Israelites sinned by making the golden calf. Didn’t this happen because they refused to wait 40 days for Moses to return from Mount Sinai?
In 1 Samuel 13, didn’t Saul sin because he didn’t want to wait for Samuel?
Weren’t the disciples of our Lord always asking for the coming of His kingdom and trying to rush it?
The church at Corinth had many problems. One of them was concerning waiting/patience. They couldn’t wait for God to do justice, so they took each other to court (1 Cor. 6).
No wonder that our Lord has devoted so much time and attention to teaching His disciples how to behave while they waited His return:
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to allpeople?”. And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom hismaster will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:40-48)
Satan often attacks us by trying to take advantage of the time we have to wait for divine fulfillment. Satan tries to reassure the minds of nonbelievers showing that the waiting time is proof that God does not know or does not care when we sin:
“Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Pet. 3:1-4)
Satan seeks to undermine the faith and obedience of God’s children deceiving them about the divine love wherever God takes time to answer them. I think that’s what Satan did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I also believe that this is the essence of the temptation of our Lord at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Satan said to the Lord: “Ok, I know that you are the King. However, instead of denying yourself (obeying God and staying 40 days and 40 nights without eating), why don’t you do something for yourself? Why don’t you eat now? Why do you need so much suffering to get into your kingdom? Why don’t you worship me and I will give you the kingdom of this world right now?”. Isn’t this how Satan thinks and acts?
While we wait, Satan will have us believe that God’s promises will never be fulfilled. He seeks to push us to act independently of God, getting things for ourselves instead of waiting for God to give them to us. Satan tries to work within our minds with doubts about God’s love, as if God was withholding something good from us from pure meanness. Satan works by promoting mistrust in God, especially in His Word. He leads us to disobey God and follow our own judgment. He pushes us to take advantage of the occasion, using other people and questionable methods to get what we want.
When we wait upon the Lord, our faith is increased to maximum and our intimacy with God is reinforced. Have you noticed how many Psalms were written in times of waiting? The question “For how long?” is found several times in the Psalms – “to wait on the Lord”. David often is the author of those psalms of “waiting times”. To wait on the Lord is good for us. To wait helps us to develop patience and tolerance. It causes us to exercise our faith in God’s promises and to act based on His Word and not on what we see or think. To wait increases our appetite for the wonderful things God has in store for us. Waiting requires us to reject fleshly desires and to put aside the desire for instant gratification through a shortcut. To wait upon the Lord is one of the ways to “take up our cross and follow Him”.
To wait upon the Lord is a principle that can also be applied to sexual purity. Today there is a lot of talk about “safe sex” and very little about abstinence. This is because waiting for the pleasures of marital sex is a taboo. Virginity is disdained as if it was a curse, not a gift that one spouse gives to the other. Waiting upon the Lord for the joys and pleasures of marital sex, increases the joy and the pleasure of this gift, if and when God gives it. What I want to highlight is that sexual purity requires a time of waiting, and this is very good practice for us in our Christian walk. We should not consider this issue as something that God cruelly withholds from us but, as a very good gift which we are willing to wait on the Lord to be able to fully enjoy without guilt.
We can say that some kinds of waiting time are not good for us. Often we tend to procrastinate when we should be working, and at other times, work when we should be waiting. We should not wait to do what God commands us to do. The waiting time that is pleasing to God is when we wait for His promises that we, ourselves, cannot accomplish without acting in disbelief and disobedience to His Word.
Waiting is not necessarily a time of passivity. Have you noticed what people do while waiting? Some do absolutely nothing. There are constructive things you can do while waiting. David waited over 20 years to reign over all Israel, but this was a very busy time of his life. He did much more than simply run away in order to save himself. He released the people of Keilah (1 Sam. 23: 1-5) and did many good things for the people of Judah (1 Sam. 30: 26-31). One of the things we can do while waiting is to praise God and to pray, as David and others do in the psalms. While we cannot do what we really want, we can do what God gives us the opportunity to do, while we wait on Him for the fulfillment of His promises and His purposes.
Waiting is a significant part of the life of each one of us. Each of us may be waiting for a lot of things right now. Let me name just a few of them:
- When young, we hope to grow and enjoy the rights, privileges and responsibilities of adulthood. Rebellions in adolescence and sex before marriage are attempts to take a shorter path that often end up causing a short circuit;
- Some couples hope to have children. Most parents have to wait, at least, nine months to have a child, and many of them have to wait much longer;
- Many people expect recognition and reward for their work, while others take shortcuts to be promoted;
- Almost all Christians go through some kind of pain or suffering through which they have to wait in order to be released;
- All Christians wait for the salvation of loved ones, friends or relatives;
- We all find ourselves waiting for God to change someone we love or who is close to us;
- We all wait for the return of our Lord and His kingdom;
- Strange as it may seem, a lot of Christians wait for death. There are those who are not able to wait for God’s time and choose suicide as a way to relieve their pain. We all have situations where we want the Lord “to take someone” or “take us”, but God tells us to wait.
We can learn from David that waiting is a normal aspect of the Christian life. We will be tempted to shorten this wait time, but to give in would be a sin. Sometimes, other people want to help us to take a shortcut. However, we must decide with our heart to be like David and wait on the Lord for the fulfillment of His purposes and promises in His time. We may be sure that while we wait, God is working in us, preparing us for the wonderful things that are ahead. Don’t doubt that we will see them. And let’s dedicate ourselves to growing in life and serving the Lord as we wait, not as those who are powerless, but as those who are strengthening their faith.
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” – Psalms 27:14
“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9