“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” –Psalm 18:32
Have you ever been waiting for something, yet it’s delayed. I don’t think there is anyone that really enjoys waiting for something. Think about it for a minute, do you like to wait? If you’re like me, I don’t like waiting at the doctor’s office or in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) (…sometimes it seems they just make you wait intentionally) or even at the drive thru window. We simply do not like to wait.
What about if we have to ‘wait on God?’ There may be times we are praying for something get to the place where we are not sure that God even hears our prayers anymore. You wait, you hope, you pray, you become anxious and fear that it will never happen. The first thing we need to understand about God’s timing is that it is perfect, just as all of God’s ways are perfect. His timing is never early, and it’s never been late. No event in history has put so much as a wrinkle in the timing of God’s eternal plan, which He designed before the foundation of the world. “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30)
One would think, then, that by understanding the sovereignty of God, patience and waiting would come a little more easily. Unfortunately, however, that’s not always the case. At times we become anxious and impatient while waiting on the Lord. It is during times of waiting, we need to calm our thoughts and emotions. We have to settle down!
Although I don’t consider myself impatient, there have been times when I’ve become anxious while waiting. My soul becomes anxious wondering when will He come through. Yet I’ve come to realize God is cultivating patience in me. I can choose to run ahead of Him and try to make things happen myself or I can wait patiently for the manifestation of His promise, “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:13)
Why is this important?
Patience is a spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22), and the Word of God makes it clear that God is pleased with us when we display patience: “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him” (Psa. 37:7); “for God is good to those who wait for Him”(Lam. 3:25). And our patience often reveals how much we trust in His timing. God operates according to His perfect and foreordained eternal schedule, not ours. We should take comfort in knowing that when we wait on the LORD, we receive divine strength: “But those who wait on 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” (Isa. 40:31). The psalmist reiterates this in Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”
Another key to understanding God’s timing is trust. In fact, our ability to wait on the Lord is largely related to how much we trust Him. When we trust in God with all of our heart, forgoing reliance on our own best efforts, He will indeed give us direction and guide our steps (Prov. 3:5-6).
Perhaps you’ve been praying about a situation in your life and found yourself waiting for a breakthrough? Are you wondering why the answer hasn’t come yet? Do you feel as though victory is passing you by? You start looking around at others, thinking God’s answering their prayers. One thing is certain: before God moves, we will wait. Waiting for answers and the manifestation of His promises is a fact of life—nobody gets out of it. So the question is not if we’ll wait, but rather how we’ll wait. Will we wait passively or expectantly? Will sit around waiting to see if something good happens or will we be hopeful, believing the answer is just around the corner, due to arrive any moment?
When we wait expectantly our hearts are full of hope, expecting our prayers to be answered at any moment. We wake up every morning expecting God’s answer. We may wait and wait, but suddenly what we’ve been waiting for happens. Hallelujah! We are encouraged to remain confident that what we are waiting will come to pass. “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Psa. 27:13-14)
I’m reminded of me of Sarai, Abram’s wife. Abram and Sarai find themselves in a difficult situation. Sarai, realizing that she is barren, decides to take matters into her own hands. So she devised her own plan. “Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her. Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.” (Gen. 16:1-4)
Really Abram…come on now. Abram should have known better. God gave him the promise. Anyway, that’s another thought. When Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to despise Sarai. Sarai became frustrated and said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” So what did Abram do? He put the responsibility on Sarai. “Your slave is in your hands, Abram said. Do with her whatever you think best. Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.” Seems like Abram might have been thinking to himself, “you created this mess Sarai, so you fix it.”
Does this sound familiar? How often do we become frustrated while waiting and take matters into our own hands? It’s never a good idea to try to accomplish God’s plan in your own way and your own timing. God’s plans come complete with His methods and His timing, and when we try to interfere with that, it messes everything up. But even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13)
Later in Genesis 17:19 God promises to bless Abraham and Sarah with a son and become the mother of nations. Abraham laughed at the thought because he was 100 years old. God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”
I find Hagar to be one of the most interesting women in the Bible. What I love about her story is that even though she fled in despair, God didn’t forget her … In the midst of her despair she suddenly heard a voice calling: Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her. The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” Hagar heard the promise directly from God. The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery… Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Gen.16:9-11, 13)
Hagar encountered God in the desert and called him El Roi, “the God who sees me.” El Roi, knows our circumstances, past, present, and future. He knows everything about us. Knowing this my soul waits patiently for him, knowing that He is the God who sees me and what He has purposed is far better than anything I could do for myself.
What has God promised you today? Wait for it expectantly!
Maybe you’re in a season of feeling like God is deaf to your cries, blind to your circumstances, or won’t keep His promise. Read Hagar’s story and take a moment in quiet to receive the wonderful truth that El Roi sees you, cares about you, knows your anxious thoughts and will provide.
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psa. 130:5)
Min. Dr. A. Francine Green