Waiting on the Lord can be hard for two reasons. Bad theology, the first reason, is what I wrote about previously here at Christianity.com. The second reason has nothing to do with bad theology though. In fact, you can have very solid and robust beliefs about God, man, sin, etc. and yet still find it tough to wait. That’s because sometimes the waiting doesn’t end.
Recently, my family of six made a 1,200-mile trek to Texas and back to visit relatives there. We live in Indiana and have four children, so these trips are both exhausting and fun. But there’s also sadness in these trips, because it is the only time we get to see my mom, who at just 63 years old has advancing Alzheimer’s disease and is slowly fading away from us.
We have, of course, prayed for her healing and believe God has the power to heal if he so chooses. But God hasn’t healed her. I don’t believe that’s because of any lack of faith or prayer in those of us who love her. Nor is it because of any lack of power or goodness in God. I believe that God both loves her (and us) and has the power to heal her.
Yet, in his inscrutable wisdom, God has not healed. And this terrible disease continues to take its course with mom’s mind and body, reminding us that we live, as do all human beings, in a world still waiting for redemption.
Every person reading this has probably faced (or will face) a similar situation. Sometimes, God mercifully answers our prayers. We wait, and it’s hard. But it’s only for a season, and then the burden lifts—the answer comes, or we get the guidance we’ve asked for, or he supplies the provision we need—and we feel assured in a fresh way that God is there and that he hears and cares.
But much of our waiting is life-long. We sometimes struggle with unanswered prayers not just for months, but years. We carry burdens over decades. We endure what appears to be the unchecked and unhindered advances of sorrow, sin, and suffering in our lives, in our world.
Though we pray, the answer doesn’t come. The burden doesn’t lift. The cancer, or Alzheimer’s doesn’t go away. Sometimes we just keep on waiting, and waiting, and waiting. What then? What do we say of this?
The Story Isn’t Over
I certainly don’t fathom all the mysteries of God’s providence. But this much I think we can say. We still haven’t reached the end of the story. We’re still waiting. And while this might initially cause us to doubt our faith, if we know our Bibles well, we see that our experience matches up with the reality Scripture portrays.
In fact, the New Testament uses the language of waiting to describe the characteristic mode of living for believers in Jesus.
We wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
God’s grace…[trains us to] wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13)
Through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. (Galatians 5:5)
Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)