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What the Bible Says About Waiting

  • November 2020 Issue

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Five things the Bible teaches about times of waiting.

There are times in our lives where we are forced to wait for the things we want. But, for most of us, the idea of having to wait often comes with agony and dread. We don’t like to wait. It’s inconvenient and stalls our plans. What does the Bible say about waiting?

Maybe there is more to waiting then we understand. Maybe there is even a purpose in waiting. Throughout Scripture, the nature of waiting is described as more than just a pause in our plan. Often, it is the plan. Waiting can be a part of God’s plan.

So how can you deal with the frustration caused by times of waiting and even see this time of life as enriching? Here is what the Bible says about waiting and five ways you can deal with (and even benefit from) these frustrating times:

1. Embrace the Stillness

“When it comes to earthly waiting, we hate standing still, says Dr. Bradley Baurain in his book, On Waiting Well: Moving from Endurance to Enjoyment When You're Waiting on God. “We like to move forward. The first feels useless and painful and boring. The other gives us a sense of progress and self-worth and achievement. This is not a biblical perspective, but it's what makes waiting difficult.” Being still is difficult, but it is in that stillness when God speaks to us. Embrace the stillness, encourage and pursue it. Choose to be still with God and wait on Him. Another helpful resource on what the Bible says about waiting (also written by Dr. Baurain) is the Today in the Word’s Bible devotional titled Waiting on God.

2. Stand Firm in Your Trust in Him

Waiting can often lead to doubt. We can become impatient, wanting to arrive at the end result. In the process, our trust in the Lord fades. We can get frustrated with God for not making things happen in our time frame. Proverbs 3:5–6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Bring your doubt and frustration to Jesus and ask Him to help you trust Him. Waiting is having faith that our lives are in God’s hands. Remember that He alone is in control and His plans are good.

3. Don’t Focus on the End Result

God gave us this day. He has not promised us tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1). Therefore, our focus shouldn’t be on what is to come, but what we are given now. There is still work to be done in the waiting. Baurain says, “We often treat waiting as a necessary evil. It’s something we get through in order to reach a destination, to arrive someplace and have the waiting behind us.” When we wonder what the Bible says about waiting, we are headed in the right direction. “Biblical waiting is waiting with conviction,” Baurain says. Don’t focus only on your desired destination. Instead, focus on where God has placed you right now, and what He is calling you to do in this moment.

4. Realize We Can’t See the Whole Picture

We can’t see all that God is doing in our lives, and we most likely never will. This time of waiting could be purposed by God so that you miss something now in order to gain something better. Take Joseph for instance. In Genesis 41 we find Joseph imprisoned and forgotten. He had interpreted the dream of the Pharaoh's Cupbearer in hopes the man would remember him and help free him. Two years later, Joseph was still waiting to be remembered. Finally, He was set free to interpret the Pharaoh's dream, and because of this he became second in command over the land, saved the people of Egypt, and saved his family. There was a bigger picture than what Joseph could see during those years in prison waiting. God’s plan is always better than our own. We might not understand what is happening at the moment, and might not ever, but we can trust He is working all things out. It is helpful to get a new perspective by understanding what the Bible says about waiting.

5. Take the Time to Grow

Perhaps, God has you in a time of waiting so you can learn. Spend time in Scripture and prayer. Don’t perceive waiting as just wasted time. Instead, see it as a cultivating time in your life to live for Jesus today. Seek out a mentor, or a mentee, someone to learn from who has also dealt with the struggles of waiting. Take this time to dig deep into what God is trying to teach you. Hebrews 13:20–21 says “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Let God work in your life.

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