“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord. Waiting is one of life's most difficult challenges. Impatience is a common thread in the history of humanity, and in today's fast-paced society addicted to instant gratification, waiting even just a little bit has become agonizing. We often grow tired of waiting and either give up whatever it was we were waiting for or try various other methods to achieve the result we wanted.
This mindset can leak into our spiritual life, and impatience in spiritual matters can pose a threat to our faith and trust in the Lord. The longer we wait, the greater the opportunity for our courage and conviction to waver. The human heart, after all, is a frail thing.
There are some among us who are waiting on the Lord to work in our life. It could be guidance with which college to attend, what degree to pursue, what career to enter, or what man or woman to marry. It could be help with broken relationships, health problems, financial issues. During the wait, we may struggle with a wide range of high and low feelings, such as confidence in the Lord and discouragement when He seems to be quiet. We know from the Scriptures that the Lord hears us when we pray to Him. In Isaiah 65:24, the Lord promises: "...before they [His people] call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear." We know this, of course we know, but there are times when our weak humanity overwhelms us and we feel lost, alone.
Waiting is hard, even for the Christian.
So what do we do? Do we give up? Give in? God forbid!
Waiting is never easy, but there is always a reason. Even though we cannot see it while we are in the present, the Lord knows exactly what we need and when. If we look back over those times in our lives where we thought the Lord was not answering our prayers, when the waiting seemed to be unbearable, we are able to see the Lord's hand guiding us through. That alone should give us courage to push onward and endure any future waits.
However, if you struggling right now, perhaps you will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Whatever it is you are going through, others have experienced it and, through the strength of the Lord, overcame the agonizing wait (Philippians 4:13). Some testimonies have been recorded in the Scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 10:11, we are told: "Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
For those waiting for a life-changing event, remember that exiled Israel had to wait 70 years for the fulfillment of the Lord's promise through the project Jeremiah to bring them out of exile. (Jeremiah 29:10-13)
For those waiting for the right marriage partner, Isaac was forty-years-old when he married Rebekah according to Genesis 25:20.
For those waiting for a child or struggling with infertility, Sarah, Hannah, the mother, of Samson, and Elisabeth all endured the agony of infertility before the Lord blessed them with a child. And according to 2 Samuel 6:23, Michal, the first wife of David, never had children.
Whatever it is that you are waiting on the Lord for – no matter how long it seems that silence is your only answer, no matter how dark your current situation may seem – hold fast to the promise of Romans 8:28.
Real quickly I want to diverge onto a tangent, and this is very important. There are three things that we, humans, tend to do that make waiting worse: worry, coveting, and running ahead of God.
Let's look at the first: worry. Worry has a way of getting inside our minds and taking root very deeply. Some individuals, for whatever reason, are more pre-disposed to anxiety than others, and anxiety often has more than just psychological effects. Some people experience physical pain associated with high anxiety. Worry, anxiety, is not healthy physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It causes us to chronically view life from a negative perspective, overlooking all the blessings by focusing in on only the bad things. If left unchecked, this anxiety can damage our relationship with the Lord as well as our relationships with others. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi with these encouraging words: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
The second, covetousness, is similar. Covetousness often begins with a harmless, passing thought, perhaps along the lines of: "I wish I had a good job like that." or "Why not me?" It settles into our hearts and minds and pumps out poison into our lives. Without realizing it, we grow dissatisfied with what the Lord has done for us and greedily long for the blessings the Lord has bestowed on others. James 1:14-15 gives us insight into how this transformation occurs in the heart and mind. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Like worry, this discontent will weaken our faith and trust in the Lord.
The third way we tend to worsen our situation is by running ahead of the Lord. After waiting a certain amount of time, our impatience leads us to doubt the Lord or come to the faulty conclude that the Lord must be waiting for us to act first. It is just like that saying, which is often erroneously attributed to the Bible but actually originating from ancient Greece, “God helps those who help themselves.” We use human logic and reasoning to talk ourselves into doing something that is not guided by the Holy Spirit. The end result often only complicates the situation. For example, after waiting for years and years with no apparent answer from the Lord, Abraham and Sarah tried to bring about the Lord’s promise of a child themselves: Abraham took Sarah’s handmaiden Hagar as a second wife. The history of God’s people was complicated by the misunderstandings and hatred that sprung up between the descendants of the son of promise, Isaac, and the son of man’s way, Ishmael. Proverbs 3:5 tells us clearly “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” and Proverbs 14:12 warns: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
So how do we strengthen our faith and deepen our trust in the Lord while we are waiting?
I believe the key to this is coming to understand that even though we may be waiting for the Lord in whatever situation of our life (family, career, health, whatever it may be), we cannot be idle. The apostles, in the upper room, were waiting on the Lord but while they waited, they were not idle. They put away their differences, selfish desires, earnestly drawing together and pouring our their hearts to the Lord in prayer. And the result? The Holy Spirit fell upon those waiting and many were reached for the cause of Christ.
Even though we may be waiting on the Lord, we need to have faith that He has a plan for our lives. We need to keep our faith in the Lord on fire NOW through studying God’s Word, praying, fellowshipping with believers, witnessing to those within our sphere of influence, and living every single day for the glory of the Lord.
Remember, it is the little moments that happen every day that often make the biggest difference. We often wait for the Lord to give us a grand mission—a call to ministry, an opening as a missionary to a far-off place, whatever the dream may be—and while He may do that, He also expects us to live every day in faith. That includes sharing the Gospel in any capacity that we are able to in the "short term". We have an individual personal responsibility to witness for Christ NOW, not tomorrow or in ten years.
Think of it this way: the Lord has placed you in this exact time and place for a reason, even if you cannot see it. In Acts of the Apostles on page 109, Ellen White spoke of "a large class [of people] who need to be taught by such missionaries as Philip—men who will hear the voice of God and go where He sends them. There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in."
The first priority in our life should always be sharing the message of Christ with those in our sphere of influence: our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community. Let nothing else, not even what we may be waiting for, get in the way of this prime directive. In the end, having a career, marriage, children, etc. will mean absolutely nothing if we did not use what the Lord blessed us with to win souls to Christ. And what a glorious message we have to share! No other branch of Christendom has been given the privilege, and responsibility, of sharing the first, second, and third angels' messages.
In Evangelism, page 119, we read: "In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light-bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import,—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention."
And in Christian Service on page 145, we are told: "Let every Seventh-day Adventist ask himself, “What can I do to proclaim the third angel’s message?” Christ came to this world to give this message to His servant to give to the churches. It is to be proclaimed to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. How are we to give it?"
Even though we may be waiting on the Lord to move in our own lives—whether it is help with finances or health issues, concerns for wayward children, which person we should marry, or what job to take, we cannot forsake our duty to share the good news of Jesus with those around us today, right now.