Sunday, October 8, 2006

Whatever Happened to Waiting

“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

The inability to wait is a sign of lack of hope. That is what the verse says. Impatience shows disbelief in promises—others or our own. It says I can only trust what is under my own control at this very moment. It is not merely an indication of pessimism, but actually fatalism.

My older daughter, Leah, commented the other day on a sign she saw posted at her local Wal-Mart, acknowledging that they would no longer be offering their layaway plan for purchasing merchandise due to a lack of interest and readily available credit. (I have seen this myself, as well.) This interested her not only because it indicated a societal trend, but because she was remembering, I’m sure, how that she as a single mother often used the layaway option in order to have Christmas presents, etc., for her three boys when they were small.

She and I agreed that it says far more about us than merely a change in our buying habits. It gives us a picture of the mindset of our society. Not only do we want immediate possession, we also demand early reward and instant gratification. Buying what we want now, rather than saving for it, may be the wrong choice, in most cases; but cheating to acquire the recognition and advancement we do not want to take the time to earn, and feeling we deserve sexual pleasures God only allows married people, simply because we are “in love,” is far worse. In each case, it means we believe if we do not buy what we want now, we might never have it; or if we fail to assert our right of recognition, someone else may get it first; or if we abstain from satisfying physical desires, we may end up being (or feeling) unloved. At the least, it shows who we consider to be in charge of our lives.

If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches the high premium God puts on those who are able to wait:

Wait I say on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait I say on the LORD. (Psl.27:14)

Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him… (Psl.37:7)

The LORD is good unto them that wait for him…(Lam.3:25)

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. (Isa.30:18)

Perhaps God is so insistent upon, and impressed by, patience and the ability to wait, because as the last verse indicates, it is one of His own attributes. (My husband has a wonderful message taking from this text entitled, “Waiting on a Waiting God.”) We know from Romans 5:3 that tribulation works to grow patience, but tribulation is usually beyond our control. On the other hand, waiting is an exercise that requires patience, and waiting is within our control. The better we are at waiting, the stronger our patience becomes. The earthly manifestations of God required (and requires) that His people wait: Israel waited some 750 years after Isaiah’s promise for the Messiah to come to earth; the disciples waited 10 days in the upper room for the Holy Spirit to descend from Heaven; and the Church has been waiting over 2000 years for Christ to return to claim His Bride and rule and reign on the earth. The Christian life is a “waiting game,” and only those who can wait will win. It’s not how well we can work for God, but how well we can wait for Him.

“If you want to measure the strength of a man’s hope, you must measure the quietness of his waiting. Our hope is never so weak as when we are excited.”

-- George Matheson (1842-1906)

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