“Are we there yet?”
Regardless of the distance of the trip, wouldn’t you say this is a pretty common question asked by anyone ages 3 to 93?
Everyone is ready for the next thing.
We live constantly waiting for the next thing: the next job promotion or the next home, to be done with singleness and onto a new relationship, then the engagement and the wedding to be followed by waiting for the kids, the college tuition bills, and retirement around the corner.
I think you get my point. We get so caught up in what is coming next that we lose sight of the present. We lack contentment for the things we do have. We do not really know how to wait or what to do in our waiting.
We do not know how to wait well.
Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a season for everything: life and death, joy and sadness, love and hate, peace and war. And even though we know that we can trust the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), it is hard to wait well and believe that there is a reason for the season that we are in.
So what does it look like to make the most of our time in a season of waiting?
Abraham and Sarah had to wait until they were 100 years old for a baby. In that season of waiting, they became impatient, and Abram impregnated one of their servant girls who gave birth to Ishmael. However, God was faithful in spite of their lack of faith, and gave them a baby boy, Isaac, through whom the nation of Israel would come. In their season of waiting, Abraham and Sarah made poor choices and tried to take matters into their own hands, even though God had already renamed Abram with the name Abraham meaning “Father of Many Nations.” While the Lord still gave them a son as he had promised, their actions along the way had messy consequences.
It is practically an understatement to say that the Israelites had seasons of waiting: first, they endured four hundred years of slavery in Egypt and then they experienced 40 years wandering in the wilderness until they reached the promised land. Those weren’t just “seasons of waiting,” those were ages of waiting. And what did they do? They grumbled, they complained, they cursed God, they made decisions that kept generations from entering into the promised land. The Israelites were so caught up in what they did not have, that they could not appreciate the provisions of the Lord.
Joseph faced great conflict in his waiting. His young adult life was filled with oppression. He was openly favored by his father, thereby widely disliked by his brothers, so much so that they threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery. However, Joseph was a hard worker and good at every task he was assigned. He was also very, very, handsome. Combine all of these features together, and no wonder Joseph became an object of desire by Potiphar’s wife. When Joseph refused her advances, she had him thrown into prison for mistreating her. And yet, Joseph was diligent in his waiting. He continued to work hard and stay faithful while he was in prison. Even though Joseph lost his chance of freedom because his prison mate did not immediately follow through on his promise, he remained steadfast. When the truth came out, Joseph’s season of waiting was over, and he was promoted to a position of power. Joseph made the most of his waiting and continued to serve the Lord, even when it did not make sense.
God does not put us in seasons of waiting because he is angry with us.
He is not absent in our waiting.
In fact, it is just the opposite — He is ever present and desires to work in and through us in our waiting. He does not withhold good things from us as we remain steadfast in our waiting, walking upright and faithful to the Lord (Psalm 84:11).
We like to cling to what is certain and we like to be in control. I know that I certainly think that I know what is best for me and when I think the timing is best for the next thing. It is not easy to relinquish control and to wait patiently. Waiting forces us to cling to certainty and the only thing that is certain is Jesus.
We then need to ask ourselves these hard questions:
- Do I know that Jesus is better than anything I could ever want?
- Can I wait patiently and diligently, trusting that God will give me his best, in his best timing?
- Do I trust that God’s plans are perfect even though I am still . . . single?
- Do I believe that Jesus’ love is everlasting, even though the boy that I thought I was going to marry, just broke my heart?
- Can I be patient, even though I just want to be engaged?
- Am I truly able to make the most of the season I am in now because I know that God works for the good of those who love Him? (Romans 8:28)
Whatever season you are in, you are probably waiting for something — something new, something to change, for the next stage and step to unfold.
When we do not wait well, we grumble, we complain, we cause disunity, we lack gratitude, and we do not make the most of the time that we have been given.
When we do wait well, we make the most of the opportunities we have been given, as we serve others, press into God, live full of joy, and lift up our eyes with eternal hope.
Even in the waiting, God is still there.
“Take courage my heart, Stay steadfast my soul, He is in the waiting”