Waiting is never easy.
The anticipation, the frustration tangled up inside … The dreaded uncertainty. It’s the discomfort of not knowing what to expect, the fear of being blindsided by a less than preferred consequence.
I hate not knowing what lies ahead, not knowing if I’m walking towards a trapdoor of some sort. If anything seems to encompass more risks than I am comfortable handling, I would — more likely than not — walk away.
It’s about being in control. Whatever situation I walk into, I like knowing I’m not going to be unpleasantly surprised and at a loss. I only like to take calculated risks and am more safe than adventurous.
Waiting does not come easy for me; it’s the hardest thing I’ve had to learn how to do.
With God, we’re asked to give up this desire for control and instead have a kind of radical, almost counter-intuitive trust.
It’s a natural inclination of ours to want to have at least some semblance of control over the situations in our life. In my opinion, that’s because at the back of our minds, we all have an idea of what we want to happen: The ideal outcome, so to speak.
But with God, we’re asked to give up this desire for control and to instead have a kind of radical, almost counter-intuitive trust. We’re invited to a place of total surrender.
GOD’S IDEA OF DELAYED GRATIFICATION
The purpose of waiting brings to mind the story of Lazarus. In John 11, it talks about after the death of a man called Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus. In fact, it starts with Lazarus being critically ill, and Jesus hearing of it – but He does not make His way to Lazarus’ hometown until he has passed away.
His sisters, Mary and Martha, are understandably upset with how Jesus is “too late”, and that if He had come sooner, their brother “would not have died”. But what they didn’t know, was that this seeming delay was a purposeful one.
If Jesus did not appear after Lazarus had died, what glory would there be to show for the power He has in life and in death? The death was necessary — people don’t just come back to life – and it was crucial in showing the magnitude of God’s glory.
So if you are plagued with the discomfort and pain of waiting, here are three things that you can hold onto:
3 SECRETS TO WAITING WELL
1. Jesus knows exactly how you feel
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” (John 11:33-35)
It is mentioned that Jesus loved these three siblings. There was a real relationship He had with them and it was only natural that He felt the same grief as both Mary and Martha.
When He saw how upset Mary was, Jesus was “intensely moved in the spirit and was greatly distressed” (John 11:33) and He wept (John 11:35). And as a man, Jesus felt the very same emotions they did.
So in whatever situation you are in right now, God knows the exact degree of discomfort you are feeling. So hang tight and find peace in the knowledge that He keeps track of every tear you shed (Psalms 56:8).
2. Get up quickly and go to Him
“When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'” (John 11:31-32)
Mary was not slow in rushing to Jesus even when her heart was breaking. And that’s the posture that we must have, especially when our faith has been diminished, when we are at our most vulnerable and broken state.
So even in your waiting, be like Mary. In verse 28, it says that once Mary knew Jesus was coming, she “got up quickly and went to Him”. And when she had gone to meet Jesus, the first thing she did was to fall at His feet.
It’s okay to weep and grieve – life can get really painful – but go quickly to Him.
3. Every delay has a purpose
Jesus was clear about it from the beginning: “This sickness will not lead to death, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). God’s ways are higher than ours, we can never even begin to fathom the plans that He has for us.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:8-11)
But we can rest assured knowing that with every delay comes with His promise of something far greater than an instant gratification.
You may be facing many types of delays today. The delay of a piece of news you’re hoping to receive, the delay of knowing what career move to make next, the delay of waiting on God for the next step in your relationships and ministry. Hold tight to the promise that as you wait, He will be faithful to strengthen you (Isaiah 40:31).
Even when the waiting strips a bit of your strength as time passes, I hope you remember that some of the “delays”in your life are sometimes the very process in which His purpose is being accomplished.