In our culture of instant gratification and binging on everything, waiting has become more and more of a lost skill. I’ve never been very good at waiting. Patience might be a virtue, but it’s one I have to work on daily. I find myself pacing, unable to concentrate on anything, and sometimes worrying or getting annoyed. I’m a mess!
How ironic, then, when God led my husband and I to move our family to Uganda, Africa, where it seems the national motto is “Hurry Up and Wait.” We spend hours of our life there waiting. Waiting for repairmen to show up who said they’d come “tomorrow” but didn’t specify a time. Waiting in a queue at the bank to pay the water or electric bill. Waiting for government officials to sign important documents so we can file essential paperwork, which includes sitting in their office waiting for an opportunity to see them. Waiting the requisite two hours for the restaurant to prepare the food we ordered. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes we all feel like our lives are one long period of waiting for something to happen. Our family is stuck in one of those long waiting periods right now. We were visiting the US when the whole world locked down because of COVID-19. We’re still waiting for Uganda to reopen so we can go home.
It’s easy for me to focus on the long, frustrating periods of waiting and not on the important fact that I’m not the only one waiting, and maybe I’m not waiting for the right thing.
Isaiah 30:18 says “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.”
Wait. What? God waits? Why would God need to wait for anything? He’s God. He exists outside time and space. He can do anything He wants whenever He wants to do it.
But He does wait. He waits so He can be gracious and merciful to us and be exalted in our lives. He waits so we can learn to trust him. Romans 5:3 reminds us that our struggles, the things we’re waiting on God to do, teach us patience and patience teaches us hope. It’s not just hope in some ambiguous thing that might or might not happen someday. We have hope in a holy, just God who has our best interest at heart and who we can trust with our lives.
“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:24-25)
So then, how exactly does one wait with patience on a God who is also waiting for His timing to come about? Here are several things that help me:
- Remember that God is always faithful but He is never rushed. I’ve struggled to be patient as deadlines approach and it feels like God is doing nothing. I remind myself He’s always answered in time. Sometimes it wasn’t the way I expected, but it was definitely an answer. It helps me to remind myself of God’s faithfulness as I’m waiting on His answer.
- Recount God’s promises and the ways He’s fulfilled them in my life. A wise man once told me “Worry is trying to take control of something only God can control.” As a perpetual worrier, this statement shook me to my core. I can’t control how God keeps His promises, but I can see what He has done on my behalf as I look back on my life. It’s good to keep a record of how He answered in the past so we don’t start worrying and wondering if this will be the one time God doesn’t come through for us.
- Focus on God’s blessings in the middle of the waiting times. How is God blessing you right now in other areas? As we’ve been stuck in the US, this small thing has helped me keep perspective. God has given us time with our three sons who will be staying in the US when we return to Uganda. And that’s only one of the ways He’s blessed us. I could make a list.
- Waiting times are strengthening times. Isaiah 40:31 reminds us: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Waiting on God allows us to rest and renew our strength, both emotionally and physically. We all know that being emotionally drained, or weary, is the same as or worse than being physically exhausted. But as we rest in the one who has everything under control, we can continue in His strength without weariness even while waiting on Him.
The next time you’re waiting on God, I hope it can be a time of blessing instead of a time of worry. Remember, He’s waiting to bless you and you can trust and hope in Him.