We hate waiting.
We wait for the job to come through. We wait for the right person to come into our life. We wait for a financial breakthrough. We wait to have kids. We wait for the kids to leave the house so we can be free. We wait for retirement.
We wait. And wait. And wait.
For that next thing. That next moment. That next big season.
And the waiting becomes annoying then frustrating and ultimately downright maddening.
The Bible talks a lot about waiting. It’s as if God expects most of our life to be in this space. He knows the waiting place can either destroy you or develop you.
It can destroy you pretty easily. It destroys when all you do is look back. You look back on what you had, what you left, what you long to have again. You think to yourself, “If only I could go back there!” Whatever “there” is for you.
If only I could go back to the job I used to have?
If only I could go back to that season when things were so easy?
If only I could go back to the relationship that I used to have?
If only I could go back to the body I used to have?
We forget what it used to actually be like. We look at the past with rose-colored glasses. This is what the Israelites did in the wilderness. They had been slaves in Egypt. Slaves longing for freedom. God frees them and leads them into the wilderness on a journey towards the Promised Land. But because the wait to get there was taking too long, their memories played tricks on them. They soon thought that going back would be better than where they were. They looked at the past through rose-colored glasses.
“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted…” (Ex. 16:3). This was a lie. Their conditions in Egypt were so bad that Exodus 2 says they groaned day in and day out. But in the waiting, they forgot that. In the waiting, their memories caused them to be bitter about their present situation.
And it caused them to be bitter at God.
This is what is dangerous about waiting, it can turn you bitter towards God. Sometimes it turns you bitter towards God because, like the Israelites, you are mad about what you left. And sometimes it turns you bitter towards God because you still haven’t received what you think you deserve.
You are mad that everybody else seems to be in the Promised Land except you. Everybody else’s family is good except yours. Everybody else’s job seems satisfying except yours. Everybody else’s life seems better than yours.
“But why not me God? What are you waiting for?!!!”
But there is another way to look at The Waiting Place. We can embrace it for all that it is. We can decide that it is a necessary place on our journey. We can believe that it’s in the waiting that we learn. It’s in the waiting that we grow. It’s in the waiting that we discover who we are and who we can be.
Waiting time is never wasted time.
In the Waiting Place God asks you one simple question, “Do you trust me?”
This is the ultimate question that the waiting demands of us. Do we actually believe that God is who he says he is? It’s easy to nod our heads “yes” to this until we are still waiting for our relationship with our adult children to get better. And it’s easy to say “yes” until we are still unemployed or underemployed one year later. And it’s easy to say “yes” until we still don’t have the financial freedom we thought we would have by now.
But the waiting demands we say “yes” before the “yes” even comes. Waiting grows our trust. Waiting teaches us to persevere. Waiting makes us realize that we were never in control, even when we thought we were. Waiting helps us to know, sometimes for the first time, that there is God and it is not us.
Waiting is an act of complete surrender. This is what God asks of us in our life. He asks us to surrender to his plan, not ours. He asks us to surrender to his timeline, not ours. He asks us to surrender to his will, not ours.
This is what Joshua learned. He learned as he waited to enter the Promised Land, that he had to surrender to God. He did. He learned an incredible promise that only comes in the waiting. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Dt. 31:8)
Joshua learned what we must learn as well. In the waiting, God is with you. He is holding you by his hand. He is telling you, “Don’t be discouraged, don’t be afraid. I know you can’t really see me right now, but I’m holding you up. Just take one more step.” But God, while he is with you, he is also ahead of you. He goes before you. He is preparing that next place for you.
You can’t see it right now. But he is.
That’s why David would write,
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
So, if you are waiting. Be strong. Take heart. Wait for the Lord. You will see the goodness of the Lord.
But in the meantime, know this: what God does in you while you wait, is as important as what you wait for.
About Jason Webb
Jason Webb is a Milwaukee-based public speaker, movement leader, strategic thinker, and a results-driven executive with a proven track record in fundraising. He has helped start multiple churches and non-profit organizations, ran their multimillion-dollar campaigns, and oversaw a complex $12.5 million budget at his last organization. Mr. Webb is also a philanthropist, passionate about helping those in need on a global level.