The waiting room is a land where time seemingly stands still. It is a place where life is put on hold. In the doctor’s office, it feels like hours have passed, and yet looking at the watch, it’s been only 20 minutes. When we are in the waiting room, it seems as if progress has come to a screeching halt. One of the important exhortations of the Bible is the call to “wait on the Lord.”
Even though God promises special blessing for waiting, waiting is one of the most difficult exhortations of Scripture. Why is it so hard? As a part of fallen humanity, we are so prone to take matters into our own hands, to follow our own schemes. Yet, over and over again we are told in Scripture “wait on the Lord.” We don’t like to wait and when we think of waiting we are apt to respond with the pun, “Wait? That’s what made the bridge collapse!” Of course, that’s weight, not wait. But then these two words, weight and wait are not always unrelated because one of our needs in waiting on the Lord is the need to cast the weighty burdens of life on Him.
The comment about the bridge expresses our normal dislike for waiting, especially in our “I want it now!” society. Ours is a society that has grown accustomed to immediate gratification. Due to modern technology and all our conveniences—telephones, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, fast foods, airplanes, etc.—we have many things immediately at our fingertips. Just think of the speed of the latest computer technology in comparison with the computers of only a few years ago. Even in our modern age of conveniences, waiting is still a big part of life.
When we think of waiting, what comes to mind? We might conjure up visions of an airport terminal, a doctor’s waiting room, the line at the supermarket, or being stuck in rush hour traffic. The facts are, most of us are waiting for something most of the time: Maybe you are in a job situation that’s really tough to endure and you are waiting and hoping that conditions will change for the better. Maybe you are on a diet and waiting for your weight to drop a few pounds. A single person may be waiting for Mr. or Miss. Right. Or maybe you are waiting for your spouse or child to become interested in spiritual things.
The simple fact is, in spite of our modern age and our dislike for waiting, life is full of waiting. And one of the most challenging exhortations of Scripture is “Wait.” But waiting, despite our impatience and our dislike for it, is a vital element in life. Based on its past performance, we wait for the news to come on at six o’clock because we believe the TV station will be operating. For many years they have continued to do so, and so we trust the staff to give the news at six o’clock. Or, we know that throughout our lives we have seen the sun rise every single day. It has never failed even once.
We know or believe, therefore, we can count on God based on its past performance. He says that the earth will continue as it is and we can expect to see the light of a new day as He enables us. Above all, we are expecting God’s laws of creation to continue to work. Thus, the emphasis of the Bible is that our waiting is a waiting on or waiting for the Lord and His lovingkindness. At least 28 of the passages that deal with waiting have the Lord as the object waited for and as the confidence of the one waiting. Again note the emphasis and the object of the Psalmist’s confidence in Psalm 130:5-8.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is loving-kindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.” As the watchman waits for the sun because he knows it is reliable, so the Psalmist waits for the Lord even more because he knows the Lord is more reliable than the rising of the sun.
In other words, waiting is fundamentally wrapped up with knowing, trusting, and believing in the Lord and His person (His character) and in His promises. The ability to wait on the Lord stems from being confident and focused on who God is and in what God is doing. It means confidence in God’s person: confidence in His wisdom, love, timing, understanding of our situation and that of the world. It means knowing and trusting in God’s principles, promises, purposes, and power. Ultimately, the call to wait and rest is based on God’s character and His faithfulness.