Waiting on the Lord

“Wait.” This term can be so foreign to our vocabulary. Yet, the Lord requires us to wait upon him. The idea can be found all throughout God’s Word (Psalm 25:5; 27:14; 62:5; 123:2; Proverbs 20:22; Isaiah 8:17; Hosea 12:6—just to name a few). We would benefit from studying this idea of waiting and what it means for our lives as Christians.

What does it mean to wait? Waiting has the idea of patiently looking forward to something. A young woman who is engaged waits to be married. She patiently looks forward to the day of the marriage ceremony.

Biblically, waiting has some of the same meaning that we attach to our earthly meaning of it. Psalm 27:14 is a verse that we know so well: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” When we wait on the Lord, as this verse instructs us to do, we patiently and quietly look ahead in our life while wholly depending upon God’s will for us.[1] Waiting means that we see, by the eyes of faith, God’s perfect and loving hand of governance in our lives.

You do not have to read this article to know that the concept of waiting is challenged in our culture. Microwaves, ovens, and convenience stores—prepare or buy your food quickly! High speed internet—download your favorite songs and check baseball scores in a matter of seconds! Many of these things are a convenience, and for the most part are not sinful in themselves. The point, however, still stands. Our culture is fertile ground for our selfish flesh. “I want it, and I want it now!”

So often the attitudes developed by society find their way into our own hearts. Our sinful flesh finds this impatience to be exactly what it loves, because, by nature, we selfishly want instant satisfaction and results; thus the difficulty in heeding the command of the Lord to wait upon him. We are so much like children in this regard. Little children will often take actions that compromise their safety without waiting and thinking about future consequences. A toddler may cross a busy street to chase a ball. He has one goal in mind, and chases after the ball as if he has blinders on, oblivious to the danger of cars. Let us not think that we are much different. We formulate plans and make decisions without seeking the Lord’s will.

Negatively, a failure to wait upon the Lord not only means that we fail to seek his will, but also that we are living anxious lives and not depending upon him for all our needs. As young people and young adults, our lives are filled with anxieties. College offers its fair share of stresses—grades, scholarships, scheduling, tuition, etc. At work—the amount of money you make and the fears of paying off various bills. That is not all. So many times our relationships are a cause for anxiety. We worry about problems in dating, rejection of friends, and deep-rooted family problems.

Yet, God does not leave us alone to suffer in our anxieties and fears. He teaches us. Sometimes, he teaches us in most marvelous and powerful ways! In his providence, he often uses adversity to shape and mold our heart to patiently wait on him. Is that not so often the case? The death of a dear loved one stops us in our tracks and makes us quietly reflect upon God and his will for our lives. We learn so much about God’s will for us as we limply kneel beside our bed with hot tears stinging our cheeks. God teaches us to reflect quietly upon his work in our lives. How dreadfully sinful to open our mouth against the one who knows our plight better than we and against the one who plans everything for our good! Even through the trials and tribulations of death, sickness, rejection, failure, and frustration, God teaches us to lean totally upon him. God uses these trials to shape us for our heavenly home. We must not expect an easy, pleasure-filled life. Our journey on earth is but a pilgrimage; our life in heaven, on the other hand, is an eternity for which God must carefully mold us each day.

Waiting means that we accept God’s will for our life. Sinfully, we do not recognize the value and good that God brings in our lives by taking us through the fire. That is why we must ask for the strength to rest upon his will—in prayer! Read and study the prayers and confessions of Hannah and Job (I Samuel 1; Job 1, 19). Contemplate Jesus’ prayer life throughout his ministry, even how he rose up very early in the morning to pray for the daily strength he needed in his extremely busy work.

As young people and young adults, our optimism, as well as our physical strength and vitality, can deceive us into thinking that we are masters of our own destiny. That is what our flesh craves. That is the individualistic attitude that the world trumpets in our ears. God give us the grace to resist these sinful thoughts that appeal to our old man of sin. Let us make this personal. I do not depend upon myself because I know that my will is but the sinking sand. My own wants and desires are not a true indicator of what I really need. Like the child chasing the ball, my feelings and desires are only characterized by foolishness. Instead, I must pray earnestly every day that my will might be in harmony with God’s will.

That we wait entirely upon God, and not at all upon ourselves, means that we know the end of our waiting. We wait because God is faithful to his promises of salvation in Jesus Christ. “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:5). John Calvin beautifully puts the idea this way: “Lord, keep thy servant in the firm persuasion of thy promises, and do not suffer him to turn aside to the right hand or to the left. When our minds are thus composed to patience, we undertake nothing rashly or by improper means, but depend wholly upon the providence of God. Accordingly, in this place David desires not merely to be directed by the Spirit of God, lest he should err from the right way, but also that God would clearly manifest to him his truth and faithfulness in the promises of his Word, that he might live in peace before him, and be free from all impatience.”[2]

Therefore, God will give us all that we need in Jesus Christ—nothing more and nothing less. When we feel that the happenings of our life are unfair, we must see the cross. When we think that our will is best for our lives, we must see the cross. God loves his people so much that he sent his only begotten Son to die in their place. Let us never question that love, but patiently wait knowing that that love is sufficient for us. Talk to your grandparents, or the older men and women in your congregation. They will assure you that the Lord gave them all that they needed in their life. He is faithful.

Wait upon the Lord. Praying for the patience to wait upon the Lord will ultimately bring contentment. Trying to manage the circumstances in our own lives will surely cause us to faint. No matter what happens in our lives, we have the absolute and unshakable assurance that our great God loves us and that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. That is all that matters. Wait upon him!