I think I’m a patient person, until I actually have to wait for something.
We live in the age of Amazon and fast food, where you can have it your way with two day free shipping. We’ve organized our world so we don’t have to wait, and we’ve conditioned ourselves to be impatient.
As pastors/planters you work and wait for the core team to form, for people to catch the vision, for people to make progress in their sin or suffering and on and on the list goes.
But pastors/planters aren’t the only folks waiting. The man in your church waits for his dream career. The wife waits for more children as she struggles with infertility. The single waits for marriage with no prospects on the horizon. The family waits for the breakthrough for their troubled child. And everyone waits for God to show up, and they wonder if He will.
There’s one undeniable reality of life – we wait. And the longer we wait, the more we ache. Everyone deals with the ache differently, but we all feel it.
Romans 8:19-21 speaks to this reality:
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
Paul describes waiting people living in a waiting world. As it stands, waiting is woven into the fabric of our universe.
We live in the digital age where comparisons abound. Facebook (or as someone in my Community Group recently called it, “Trashbook”) and other social media sites fuel a sense of loss, of being stuck while others are moving forward and of wondering if our day will ever come.
The struggle is real, but the problem isn’t Facebook. We’re the problem. More specifically our greed and impatience is the problem. We wait, we ache and we crave what does not belong to us.
How do we wait well?
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things.” – Romans 8:31-32
Waiting well is inextricably tied to thankfulness for the gospel. When you aren’t waiting well, you’ve swallowed the hook that God is not for you. But look at the cross! The cross of Jesus is proof that God is for you – if He sent His Son to a torture device, then you can be sure even in the waiting that He is working all things together for your good (Rom 8:28).
In the waiting, trust God and reflect on all He has already given you.
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” – Romans 12:3
God has given us by grace more than we could ever dream so that we can be generous to others. Sometimes in waiting, we just get caught up in thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.
A couple verses later in Romans 12, Paul talks about serving each other with the spiritual gifts the Lord has given us. God has given you a beautiful opportunity to serve others in seasons of waiting. Being generous actually takes your eyes off your own waiting and allows you to meet the needs of others in their waiting.
In the waiting, trust God and remember that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” – Romans 12:10
Doesn’t it just feel like a slap in the face when others happily celebrate their plenty as you sit in your waiting?
In those moments, more than ever, we need to learn the discipline of celebration: To rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom 12:15), to consider others more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3) and to honor them with our words. Being gracious with our words will affect our hearts keeping them from becoming hard toward God and others.
In the waiting, trust God and reflect His grace as you love and celebrate those around you.
A Waiting God
These are not three instantaneous steps to make you feel better in your waiting, but rather they are often a painful process of growing more in your trust of God and love for others. Waiting is hard, and the ache doesn’t go away easily.
But here’s the good news – Not only are we waiting people in a waiting world, but we follow a waiting God. God made a promise in Eden to crush the head of that ancient snake (Gen 3:15), and then He waited for the appropriate time (Gal 4:4).
Jesus waited thirty years before He started His public ministry (Lk 3:23). He hung and bled out on a cross for six hours until it was finished (Mk 15:24-26; Mt 27:45). He waited in the tomb until His Father vindicated and raised Him on Easter Sunday (Acts 10:40). Even now, Jesus waits for all things to be brought under His authority (Ps 110; 1 Cor 15:28).
The Father waits patiently for the end of the age because He wants all to repent (2 Pt 3:9). Jesus is abstaining from wine until the Wedding Day, when He celebrates with us in His Father’s Kingdom (Mt 26:29).
In your waiting, God is not asking you to do anything He isn’t already doing. Every season of waiting is a little picture of the Long Ache. Our small aches for the good things in this life are merely teasers for what we really long for – Life with God forever.
In your waiting, realize that you are really aching for God. As you wait for the good gifts you desire, allow the ache to give way to a long ache of waiting for the Lord. No matter how long the wait, God will never disappoint.
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope…” – Psalm 130:5