Nearly every week new reports surface about America’s growing weight “epidemic.” They speak about the alarming percentage of men, women and children tipping the obesity scale. It’s a problem, without a doubt. There’s another pressing issue that sounds the same, but looks very different: Our collective “wait problem.”
Our troubles with “wait” are magnified by our fast-food, microwaved, gotta-have-it-now mentality – as is its weighty homonym. Despite technological and cultural changes, the problem with waiting has plagued humankind ever since there was a…humankind. History shows us repeatedly the dire consequences that can result from inability to wait. The Scriptures offer many cases in point.
God had told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but when the tempter suggested there would be no harm in sampling the tree’s fruit, the very first couple didn’t wait to ask for permission. They disobeyed God for the first time, setting in motion chains of sin dominoes that continue falling to this day (Genesis 3).
God had promised Abram and his wife, Sarai, would have a son, but they grew tired of waiting. Sarai told Abram to take her maidservant Hagar and have a child through her. Their plan succeeded, and Hagar presented Abram with a son, Ishmael. The Bible stated he would become “a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12). We still observe ramifications of that ill-advised choice today.
After fleeing from Egypt, the Israelites repeatedly demonstrated their reluctance to wait, much to their subsequent dismay. Other examples too numerous to mention appear throughout the Old and New testaments. It’s clear unwillingness to wait for whatever we happen to be desiring is hardly a 21st century phenomenon.
What have you been waiting for that has tested your patience? On the work front, it might be a new job, pay raise, or promotion. If you’re single, it might be finding Mr. or Miss “Right.” For some couples, it’s yearning for that first child – as was the case with Abram and Sarai, along with other women in the Bible like Rachel, Rebekah, Hannah, and Elizabeth.
Sometimes it’s something as inconsequential as a slow-changing traffic light; anticipating a much-wanted item to go on sale, or waiting for the new coach at State U to restore the alma mater to glory on the gridiron or court.
A wait problem can be frustrating and disheartening. The much-hoped-for objective seems just out of reach, and impatience sets in. This might be why essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson advised, “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Over and over the Scriptures assure us that having to wait is not a problem, but an opportunity. Psalm 37, after encouraging us to trust in the Lord, delight in Him, and commit all that we do to Him, admonishes, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). Later in the same psalm, it reaffirms that instruction: “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land…” (verse 34).
After observing how dangers and turmoil around us might prompt us to leap into action, moving ahead of God’s plan, Psalm 46:10 tells us to patiently wait: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).
Waiting receives added emphasis in Psalm 27:13-14, in which King David recalled how he learned to avoid headstrong acts: “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”
One of my favorites, Isaiah 40:31, cites a particular benefit of waiting: "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
We can find many other passages in which the virtues of waiting on God and His timing are highlighted. In our days of short attention spans and instant gratification, waiting seems a lost art. But it’s one well-worth recapturing.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” 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. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.