“…they who wait for 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.” (Is. 40:31)
We live in a day and age when our greatest desires are only a click away. You can even order toilet paper online and receive it with free shipping only a day or two later! “Why wait when you can have it now,” seems to be the motto of the hour (or minute). Our lack of patience is even catered to in the grocery store where if there are three people in a line a bell is rung or a call put out and suddenly another teller is taking guests. Why wait for that house, that job, that marriage? Is there good reason to learn patience when there seems to be little need for it anymore?
In the world around us patience may be a lost art, but to the Christian it remains a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Why does the Lord put such emphasis on the ability to wait without becoming irritable and out of sorts? What does waiting do for us?
There isn’t room in a single blog to list all of the benefits of waiting patiently, but please allow me to make four applications for this fruit: First of all, waiting creates in us a reliance upon God. Secondly, it allows us the opportunity to correct our motivations. Thirdly, it may give us the chance to change our chosen course of action. And finally, waiting patiently brings a deeper sense of satisfaction when we do at last receive what we have desired all along.
Often we approach a given need or desire with a clear plan of approach, usually one of our own making that we can accomplish in our own strength. When we can do something for ourselves we don’t tend to need anyone else – even God. Only when we have run out of things to do, only when we have no more plan, no more answers, only then do we tend to run to God instead of directly to the task of getting what we want. In the waiting, in the quiet, the stillness… when we have reached our end and we have to be patient, that is when we rely the most upon the Lord. The greatest time of prayer is found in the time of waiting. This probably should not be the only time we go to God in prayer, but we do tend to work that way, don’t we? We rely upon the Lord when we have to wait, when we are forced to learn patience, when He reminds us of that oh-so-painful fruit of the Spirit and draws us close to Himself. Let us be a people who quietly bring all of our plans to His feet, aligning our will with His own and rely upon Him first and foremost.
In Psalm 13, King David is disturbed at how long he has had to “…take counsel in [his] soul”. The Lord gave him time to think, and as David pondered his situation he came around to the fact that He needed to trust in God’s steadfast love, rejoice in His salvation, and sing to the Lord. Why? Because God had dealt bountifully with him. In the time David had to wait upon the Lord, the Lord reminded him of all of the good things that God had done for him and David gained a corrected perspective. In the same way, as we seek to gain something or accomplish something in our lives, God often makes us wait so that we too will ponder what we are doing, why we are doing it, and whether or not we have sought His will before our own. When we must wait upon the Lord we should ask ourselves (i.e. “take counsel in [our] soul”), “What is my motivation for doing this, or getting that?” Maybe God is making us wait so that we will check our will at the door and tune ourselves into His own, and maybe He is using a lesson in patience to conform us to the image of His Son (James 1:2-4).
How often have you written a report or designed a plan and nailed it top to bottom in the first try? Many times we don’t discover our mistakes until we have had the opportunity to step aside for a time, before we go back and then look at what we are doing with fresh eyes. Without a good wait we would find ourselves diving into desire after desire, likely ruining even the good ones because we never had the time to think before we acted, never had the time to make changes to our course of action that may be necessary to prevent hurting someone else, or maybe ourselves. When we take the time to pray, think, and lay our plans before the Lord we just might find ourselves walking in a different direction.
We all know the rule of delayed gratification, right? We value the things that we have to wait for, the things we eagerly anticipate, more than the things that are simply handed to us on a silver platter. A patient wait gives us a deeper satisfaction when we receive our desires. Have you considered why the Lord did not just give Eve to Adam straight away? Why did God make Adam gaze upon and name every animal before He provided him with his perfect help-mate? I would say that the Lord wanted Adam to understand what he was missing before he got it. God wanted Adam to value her more deeply than any of the other animals and to love her as his own flesh. This could not have happened if the Lord did not make Adam wait, make him realize, and then made her from Adam’s own body. Judging from Adam’s reaction, the wait was worth it.
Sometimes the Lord causes us to wait upon Him. He grows us through the pauses, and instructs us in the quiet times. Let us be a people who will wait upon the Lord, who bear the fruit of patience – aligning our will with his own, changing course when He causes us to see a better way, finding a deeper satisfaction in this life as we rely more heavily upon Him.