Waiting: An Essential of the Spiritual Life
Scripture instructs us in certain places to do something we do not like to do: wait. Isaiah 40:31 shows us that waiting is key to being gaining strength. “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Elsewhere (Is 49:23), God links waiting with protection: “Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.” The psalms are filled with the admonition to wait. Ps 27:14 simply commands us to wait: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” Ps 37:7 instructs us to rest as we wait: “Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.” Proverbs 20:22 ties waiting with salvation: “Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.” In the NT the disciples are told “to wait” for the coming of the Holy Spirit Who does not come upon them until 9 days later (see Acts 1:4). Philippians 3:20 tells us that our ‘citizenship is in heaven; from it also we eagerly wait for a Savior.”
Waiting is not easy. We face problems, we see things that need to be corrected; we are impatient with the problems in our families and in own personal lives and we want to act. But often, far too often, we are acting “in the flesh” (see Phil 3:3-4; Gal 5:17). That is, we are urged on by our own frail and fractured nature which often does not see things correctly. We do things in our own power rather than waiting for God’s word to us. We rely on our own insights and strength rather than on God’s. Abraham had received God’s covenant along with the promise of a child. Rather than waiting for God’s provision, he and Sarah took another route. Abraham had a child through the maid servant, Hagar, which was the cultural norm in those days. But it was not God’s will and it created much trouble. (See Gen 16.) Peter rushes and cuts off the ear of Malchus during the Jesus’ arrest. He could not see that the crucifixion was the Father’s provision to win back the world. Peter needed to wait and hear what the will of the Father was, rather than presuming he knew it (see John 18:10 and Matt 16:22-23).
Whatever the circumstances of our lives, no matter what we are facing, we need to find that place of quiet before God, ‘rest in Him’, and hear what His word is to us and then proceed. We are all in God’s hands, ourselves, our families, and those whom we consider in some form or other to be our enemies. God is working His will out. We need to trust in Him and be led by His Spirit. In this way, we will end up doing the will of our Father and thereby helping to bring peace to ourselves, to our families and to the world. “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3)