Waiting: we all have to do it at different times in our life. It could be waiting for a reply from someone (email, text etc), waiting in line at the shops, waiting to see the doctor, waiting for our plane/bus to arrive/depart - waiting is part of everyday life. Most of the time we are made to wait for legitimate reasons: a person could be occupied and had no chance to read our message, our food is still cooking in the kitchen, there is still an ongoing appointment, the flight crew could be still cleaning up the plane and prepping it for boarding and take off etc.
Other times, the process of waiting is made longer due to neglect or inefficiency (orders getting mixed up, appointments taking longer than they should, staff not being responsible) and that is when things get really frustrating - when we feel like we have been waiting a lot longer than we should. We have all been there... I once waited for a flight that was delayed for 8.5 hours.
For those who have been following Jesus for a while, we know this to be true as well: there are times we have to wait on God. It could be for a variety of things: waiting for answered prayer, for a breakthrough, for healing, for provision, for direction, for a dream to come true and so forth.
Sometimes what we are seeking comes almost instantaneously, but other times we are made to wait excruciatingly long that it almost seems like it is never going to happen. Why does God make us wait? Does He have good reason? Is He too busy answering other prayers? Or is he like the frustrating officer at a governmental office (inefficient?)
1. WAITING BUILDS OUR RELIANCE ON GOD
I believe the reason God sometimes makes us wait is just so that we will continue to learn how to rely on Him - and only Him. Imagine if all our prayers were answered immediately, the tendency would be that we will only go to God when we want or need something - it is human nature! If this were to be the case, prayer would not be an act of seeking and connecting with God. It will be like simply going to an ATM Machine and keying in the correct combination to get what we want.
If God answered our prayers quickly and swiftly imagined how spoiled all His children would be. Have you ever seen a spoiled child behave when he does not get what He wants? He moans, whines, throws a tantrum in an effort to get his parents to succumb to his wishes. While we are considered children of God, God desires us to be mature as well. Jesus only spoke of us having childlike faith - not childlike behaviour!
Waiting produces that kind of maturity that God desires, a kind of maturity which only comes by actively spending time with God and learning more about who He is. Often when we are waiting on God we can be very spiritual... We spend more time worshipping Him, reading His word, praying. When we are waiting on God our hearts are actually more open to the things of God; and the temptation to grow cold and complacent is when things actually start going well for us. Think about it.
God desires a relationship with us more than anything else. In fact, He created us to be in relationship with Him! The precious time spent with Him while waiting definitely outweighs the actual time waiting because in His presence we are able to find all that we need: peace, wisdom, revelation, clarity, strength, perseverance etc.
2. TRUST GOD - TO BE GOD
One thing I have realised is that God's delay is not His denial. We have to trust that God knows best and trust in His timing. God as our loving Father wants what is best for us, and in His infinite wisdom He is able to discern when the right time is. Imagine a 14 year old wanting to drive a car. His father would not deny this kid the opportunity because he is mean - but simply because the father knows the kid is not ready for that kind of responsibility yet.
Many great men in the bible had to wait. Joseph waited 13 years before his dream came true. Abraham waited 25 years for a child to come AFTER God promised him one. Moses waited 40 years before he became the man to free Israel from Egypt. David waited 12 years before he became king. Jesus waited 30 years before He started his ministry.
If you are waiting on God, guess what: you are in good company! Do not be too obsessed with the destination, just enjoy the journey. In due time, God will come through. Do not worry, His timing is always PERFECT; even when it seems like it is too late. Just ask Lazarus.
3. GOOD... OR GOD?
There comes a point of time of course the wait could be too long and the outcome is not what we wanted... and the waiting was all done in vain. What do we make of this if it happens? How do we process it?
God's nature is not to withhold good things for no good reason, in fact the bible tells us that because He has already given His best (Jesus); He will now not hold back on ALL of the rest! (Romans 8:32) So God does not want to give us the best things in life, but things that we think are good may not necessarily be the best for us.
In Luke 11:1-13, my favourite scripture on prayer; Jesus teaches how we should be bold and shameless when presenting our requests. He sums up His teaching by saying:
It sounds like a certain thing: just ask and you will receive! Whatever that you want! BUT... sometimes we do not realise that while we think we are asking for a "fish", we in our limited understanding are asking for a "snake". We believe sincerely that we are asking for an "egg", but in reality we are asking for a "scorpion".
I know this for sure: anything that seems good by natural or worldly standards but in actuality draws us away from God - is not a good thing. That job may seem really wonderful, that girl or guy may seem heaven sent... but if it comes in the way of our relationship with God...
God sometimes denies us the good things, so that He can give us the BEST (God) things. This is where point (1). and (2). comes in. I can promise you this - God knows what He is doing, and He always has a greater plan.