Waiting on the Lord
by Sarah Jennings Phillips
I read a book a few years ago for couples discerning marriage called The Exclamation. The author pointed out that God could answer the question “Should I marry him/her” in only three ways: Yes. No. Wait.
I think the toughest of the three is, “Wait.” It’s not just that we live in an impatient society (we do), and it’s not just that we can be selfish, demanding creatures (we can), and it’s not just that we tend to want life on our own terms (we do) -- it’s that waiting requires surrender of one of man’s most precious commodities: time.
Our lives are finite. Each day is precious, each month, each year, because we only have but so many. So when the Infinite God whispers to His limited creatures, “Wait,” our responses often sound something like this:
“You see, you don’t get it, God. Sure, it’s easy for you to wait – you have all of eternity. But I really need some answers. You gave Amy answers, and Chuck answers, and Lori answers, so it’s only right and fair you give me answers. After all, you said ‘whoever seeks shall find’ and stuff, so now I’m seeking, and ‘wait’ just isn’t an acceptable response.”
I think it’s even tougher to wait when we have pain lingering in our pasts. We may wonder, “Why should I trust God? Last time everything ended in disaster.” I speak from experience here. I’ve had to wait on an answer to prayer for a long time now – even for someone of my youthful age. I know how tough it is to receive the umpteenth “not yet” from God. I know what it’s like to look back on painful deferments and feel like life is slipping by.
Yes, waiting isn’t for spiritual wimps, but for those strong of heart. Obeying a “not yet” from God requires true faith. It’s handing over our days and years and months to God, trusting that we won’t regret holding off. It’s believing God’s plan is truly the best plan even when several other enticing options tempt us. It’s deferring what is good for what is best.
And there’s the reward of waiting. Even in the midst of my own unanswered prayers, I still believe God isn’t out to get you or me. He doesn’t ask us to wait to torment us. In His infinitely perfect nature, He sees what we can’t and wants to give us more than we’re currently asking for. All the times I’ve ignored God’s “wait” and taken matters into my own hands, a lot of precious time was wasted. But those that wait on Him will experience joy that far surpasses any temporary pleasure that comes with forging ahead alone.
Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30: 5 (NAS)
Intersecting Faith & Life: Are you waiting for an answer to prayer? My goal this week is to embrace the confidence of the psalmist, knowing I will see the goodness of the Lord if I just wait a while longer. Pray simply and directly about that which you’re waiting for – like a child seeking answers from a parent – and then lay it down for the week.
Want to grow your prayer life? The So Much More Podcast shows you how to create space to be with God. This podcast, hosted by Jodie Niznik, introduces you to two types of scripture experiences: Lectio Divina and Imaginative Prayer. Join our growing prayer community today!