I spend a few minutes most days scanning Facebook. Videos are among the most popular re-posts. A simple phrase sometimes appears under a video which always captures my attention: the phrase “Wait for it.” This is a phrase usually freighted with a sort of mischievous delight. It tells me that, in a rather ordinary video, say people fishing in a boat, craziness is about to erupt – like a whale suddenly breaching three feet away, scaring the fishermen silly.
“Wait for it. It’s worth it.” It’s a saying that has unusual poignancy for follower of Christ as well. We’re in the stage of our spiritual history where we do a lot of waiting. Sometimes we wonder if it’s worth it. As usual, I won’t read most of the Bible citations, but they’re in the transcript on our website if you’re interested. What are some of the things we wait for?
1. We wait for God to speak
If God is to act as our closest Friend and Father, it’s natural to want to hear His voice. We want more than a one-way conversation. Yes, we do have the Bible as our main source of God’s words, but it’s nice when we sense God’s presence accompanying those words. It’s also comforting to get direct messages or prompts from the Holy Spirit as our week flows by. That kind of Divine speaking, for me anyway, ebbs and flows. Sometimes it’s there, but often it’s not.
2. We wait for God to powerfully use us
Lots of us want to make a profound spiritual difference in our world; to see many saved, many revived, to see God’s light spread everywhere. Don’t you hunger to make an eternal difference? Yet, often, that difference is hard to detect. Like the prophets of old, we labor and pray, but may seldom get to view others come to salvation or fellow-believers stirred to zeal.
3. We wait for personal spiritual transformation
Aren’t there times when you get a taste of true holiness and it makes you hunger for more? We were made to be like Jesus (Rom. 8:29) and our souls are restless in their imperfect state. I want to be like Jesus yesterday! We’re weary of our sin and immaturity – one minute saintly and the next surly. There are, praise God, advances in our spiritual growth, but they often come slowly and at considerable cost.
4. We wait for strength
Paul encourages us to “not become weary in doing good” (Gal. 6:9), but living for Christ in this world is often taxing – like walking backwards uphill against the wind. We want to renew our strength and “soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint” (Is. 40:31) but wanting is not having and, despite our prayers, we sometimes lose that spring in our step.
5. We wait for understanding
In spiritual-land, even hindsight is not always 20/20. As God says in Isaiah 55:8, “’for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways’. . .” Sometimes we don’t have a clue what God is up to. Neither did all the characters in the Bible. We think we have God’s plan for our lives figured out, only to abruptly, realize that we don’t. Why, when we did this, did He do that? The gospel song warbles “We’ll understand it all bye and bye”. Maybe. But now would be nice.
6. We wait for answers to prayer
“Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete”, said Jesus (John 16:24b). Sometimes this seems to happen, and fairly quickly (“I prayed for a job on Monday and got one a week later!”), but often there’s no clear one to one correspondence between what we ask for and what happens next. And if we’re praying for others find salvation or to recommit their lives to Christ, we may pray for decades without getting what we ask for. Yet Jesus told us to always to pray and not to give up (Luke 18:1).
7. We wait for good feelings
I was told, in hymns, growing up “There is joy, joy, joy in serving Jesus, joy that throbs within my heart”(Joy that Throbs within My Heart). The hymn goes on to say that this can occur “every moment every hour, as I draw upon his power”. Another hymn said “I’ve got happiness all the time, wonderful peace of mind, since I found the Lord” (I Found Happiness). Some of you say “Amen!” at this point. I can’t. Although I find hope, strength, and satisfaction in Christ, I’ve also fought negative emotions such as depression and anxiety for decades and mostly had to learn to work around them. I still love Jesus, and am committed to following Him, but haven’t been able to stay consistently emotionally lit up, despite my deep desire for it. Nor have I seen a lot of other consistently effervescent fellow believers; though most of us usually ramp it up a bit on Sunday mornings.
The list could go on, and, I suspect, your list is somewhat different. Nevertheless, all of us have to “wait for it” in at least some areas of our lives. This raises another practical question:
How can I learn to “wait for it” well?
1. I “wait for it well” when I have realistic expectations
By all means, claim God’s promises, and pray for great things. God wants us to do this. And God does bless us in many ways right now. On the other hand, this is not Heaven. Even the apostle Paul speaks of all creation “groaning as in the pains up childbirth right up to the present time”, and includes believers in that group (Rom. 8:22). Life for the believer, good as it can be, is still often difficult at this stage. Inflated expectations may lead us to give up, or grow passive, or cynical in our faith. This leads to the next suggestion:
2. I “wait for it” well when I expect and even welcome suffering
Scripture makes it clear that suffering is not only normal at this stage, it’s also one of God’s chief tools for making us like Christ. James tells us to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds…”(Jas. 1:2). Even Jesus suffered, and not just on the cross (read Is. 53).
3. I “wait for it” well when I walk by faith, not by sight
God’s ways are not ours, but, fortunately, He’s a whole lot wiser than we are. Do you believe that? Even when our lives seem to be going nowhere, you can be sure that, if you’re seeking Him, He’s doing what is best, both for His purposes and for you.
4. I “wait for it” well when I frequently worship and praise God
Simply gritting our teeth and waiting for Heaven is not “waiting for it” well. Part of walking by faith is praising God right now for His love, power, and wisdom in our lives even when we don’t understand everything.
The ability to gratefully “wait for it” is a critical part of strong Christian living. I can guarantee that the wait will be worth it.