Waiting: The Unwanted Gift
The Unwelcome Gift of Waiting
Waiting can be agonizing. Its hardest to wait when I am uncertain about the outcome. When I’m trusting God for the best, while at the same time preparing for the worst. It would be much easier if I had a guaranteed good outcome or at least a promise from god to hold on to. Or some reassurance to anchor my prayers. But God often seems silent when I’m waiting. I have no idea whether he’ll even answer my prayer, so it feels like I’m waiting in the dark.
I have read and reread Psalm 13:1-2, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” I have asked that question many times. If I knew God would eventually answer my prayer with “Yes” it would be different. But with no such assurance, even a “No” would often be easier than “Wait”.
When God says “No”
Several years ago, I searched the bible to find a promise that would help me in the midst of a tortuous wait. I wanted a word that I could “claim”. A verse that would assure me of eventual satisfaction. Something, anything, to cling to. As I was waiting, I read, “No unbelief made Abraham waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). While I admire Abraham’s faith, this passage often frustrated me. Of course, Abraham never wavered. He had a direct word from God, an assurance of my answer, then I’d be content to wait too. Abraham could wait because he knew he’d get what he wanted in the end. I wanted God to give me a promise like the one he had given Abraham. So, I kept begging God for a sign. None came. No verse. No confirmation. Just a silence on that issue. For years. And in the end God’s answer was “No”. At first it felt unfair and purposeless. I struggled to make sense of those seemingly wasted years. While I had grown closer to God, somehow, I felt that I had received a lesser gift. I put it out of my mind after a while. It was senseless to keep dwelling on it, but whenever I read that passage in Romans, it stung. Why didn’t God tell me his answer from the beginning?
The Most Precious Answer
Abraham’s faith wasn’t in the promise alone. His faith was rooted in the Promiser. Because his faith was not in what God would do for him, but in God himself, Abraham was willing to risk. He could do whatever God asked. He wasn’t holding on to God. Abraham’s waiting strengthened his faith. Taught him God’s ways. Showed him God’s faithfulness. Abraham knew that God would provide everything he needed. I have the same assurance that Abraham did. That God will provide everything I need. As I let that promise sink in, I see my waiting differently. Perhaps God is making me, and you wait for the same reasons that he made Abraham wait. To forge our faith. To make us attentive to his voice. To deepen our relationship. To solidify our trust. To prepare us for ministry. To transform us into his likeness. In retrospect, I can see that “wait” is the most precious answer God can give us. It makes us cling to him rather than cling to an outcome. God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not. He will give me what is best for me. When it is best for me. As Paul Tripp says, “waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.”