A friend and fellow blogger, Len Allen, recently wrote about what he called the Bible’s “worst four-letter word.” What was the word? Before you let your imagination run wild, it’s wait.
Statistics indicate eight out of every 10 Americans wrestle with their weight, but there’s another problem that’s even more universal: the struggle with “wait.” If we live in large metropolitan areas and use public transportation, we hate having to wait on the bus, the train or the subway. If we’re in a grocery store, we hate waiting in the checkout line. The same holds true in retail stores, restaurants, the department of motor vehicles, the doctor’s office, even churches when we arrive late and can’t be seated until the pastor finishes the opening prayer.
For whatever reason, I’ve found it most difficult to wait when career issues were involved. Years ago I was looking for a new job and had been interviewed by an executive recruiter. Rather than patiently waiting to hear from the recruiter, I called every other day to ask about progress. I never got the job offer – they probably were looking for someone with more patience.
Another time I was ready to move on vocationally, and some promising opportunities arose. As it turned out, however, several years passed before the right job became available. It was worth the wait – but I hated having to wait just the same.
Probably the greatest “wait” problem of all is waiting on God. We seek to know His will, and want to know what it is – right now. We present prayer requests to God and expect Him to answer on the spot. Someone dear to us, perhaps ourselves, is sick and we ask for healing – immediately.
But unlike weight problems that can diminish our lives, spiritual wait problems we struggle with often serve to enhance our lives. The Scriptures repeatedly speak about the need to wait on the Lord. In fact, at times He insists on it.
One of my favorite psalms, for instance, repeatedly talks about waiting on God: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (Psalm 37:7). In case the reader missed it the first time, the psalmist reiterates, “Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it” (Psalm 37:34).
A few chapters later we find another admonition to wait on the Lord: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Here are some similar passages:
“Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).
“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 3:25-26).
“Yet those who hope (wait) in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
When we read passages like these, we nod our heads but our hearts want to complain: “Sure, God, that’s easy for You to say. You’ve got all the time in the world, but I’m tired of waiting. Why don’t You just do something?”
After more than six decades of living, more than half of them as a follower of Jesus, I’ve learned a difficult but enduring lesson: When God says, “Wait,” there’s always a good reason.
Perhaps He’s preparing to prove that like the old TV sitcom, “Father knows best.” You might be asking for the wrong thing, the timing isn’t right, or He has a different and better plan.
Maybe waiting is necessary for you to take the next step in your spiritual journey. As the verse above stated, “Be still, and know that I am God” – and know that you are not.
Or you need something stronger than a nudge to motivate you to exercise your spiritual muscles: “…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
So if you find yourself in God’s waiting room, don’t think He’s forgotten you, or has become too busy, or doesn’t care. The Lord knows what you want. And even better, He knows what you need – because often what we want and need aren't the same.
A wait problem can be a good thing.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.