We live in a culture where we can have almost anything we want right away. We don’t need to grow our own food, harvest the crops, turn grain into flour, and make a meal from scratch — we can just go to the grocery store, get what we need, and voila.
If we’re hungry and don’t want to leave the house, all we need to do is pick up the phone or click a button, and dinner is delivered.
Almost anything we want can be ordered and delivered to our home within a day or two courtesy of big-box online stores. An Internet connection takes just an instant now instead of seconds or even minutes, and we grow impatient when a website takes time to load or we lose connection.
Indeed, we often grow impatient whenever we need to wait, something that runs in direct opposition to much of the teachings in the Bible.
For in Scripture, God tells us over and over about the benefits of waiting on Him to move, to act, to bring, to triumph.
What does it mean to wait on God, and how does this apply to us today?
What Does the Bible Say about Waiting on God?
The concept of waiting on God is echoed throughout the Bible, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Abraham had to wait many years before God opened the womb of his barren wife, Sarah, and his son Isaac was born (Genesis 21:2).
In Psalm 27:14, King David urges, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (NIV).
In Psalm 33:20, we’re reminded, “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”
Proverbs 20:22 also urges waiting, reminding us, “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.”
The prophet Isaiah proclaims, “I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him” (Isaiah 8:17). And in Isaiah 30:18, we’re reminded the Lord is a God of justice, and “blessed are all who wait for him.”
Lamentations, thought to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah, also reflects on the necessity of waiting: “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:24-26).
Luke 2:25 mentions a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, righteous and devout, who “was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.”
And the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:5 that we are to judge nothing yet but to “wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
Waiting is a good thing, a right thing, something expected of God’s people. Waiting isn’t necessarily something we want to do, but something we must do out of obedience and trust that God will do what God promises.
How Must We Wait on God?
While we wait, we must wait in patience, the Bible tells us. Romans 8:19 describes it as “eager expectation,” knowing it will happen and much looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise, but with an obedient heart. “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently,” Romans 8:25 instructs.
In Psalm 37:7, we’re advised, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”
The Apostle James says we should be like the farmer awaiting the harvest: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7-8).
Why Else Is it Good to Wait on God?
When we wait, not only do we exhibit patience and obedience, but we exhibit trust. Waiting is knowing God will do what God intends, and it’s a way of honoring the trust we have that God keeps His promises.
As the Apostle John describes it, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).
Sometimes when we wait, it can be lonely. Perhaps we trust God, but we begin to doubt, fearing maybe He doesn’t hear our plea or remember us in the midst of all His creation. But God is always there, always working for the glory of His kingdom, a kingdom that includes us because we believe.
Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
How Long Must We Wait on God?
God’s timing is not our timing, nor is God’s way our way. As God Himself says through the prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In talking about the End Times, when God’s promises will be fulfilled, Jesus told his disciples that no one knows the hour or the day of these occurrences, not the angels nor the Son, but God alone (Matthew 24:36). God has His own timetable, and His timing is always perfect, right, just, and true.
We are to wait with an open, expectant, patient heart, ready always. His timing might not be known, but it will be when it is right.
So, wait on the Lord knowing He will step up and respond. He keeps His promises, and He’s there always, now and forever.
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Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden. She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at jessicabrodie.com. She has a weekly YouTube devotional, too. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.