Most of us, at some point in our lives, have been forced to wait for something that we really needed or wanted. And unfortunately, we have discovered that waiting is a painful process that we have little or no control over. Simply put, waiting is part of life; and as I say in one of the chapters of my recent book, Passages for Inner Peace, “Waiting will always be part of our relationship with God”.
We can speculate on why God waits: perhaps it is not the right time to grant us what we request; he is arranging everything for us, and this takes time; we are not yet deserving or worthy of the grace we request; we ask for that which will not be beneficial for us. No doubt, being mere mortals, we will speculate, and ponder, and worry. But what we should be doing is focusing on God during our waiting process. Waiting, painful as it is, is one of the best ways to grow closer to God. He is our deliverer, so it is our duty to stay close to him, and to ask him to stay close to us. The more we can practice trustful surrender to God, the less painful waiting will be. St. James tells us, “Come near to God, and he will come near to you” (James 4:8, NIV).
The Bible contains many verses that talk about waiting for God’s grace and succour, and these phrases are very helpful to keep in mind, and indeed to memorize, during the waiting periods. As we learn the Scriptures, and commit them to memory, we draw closer to God. I offer the following short and meaningful verses that mention waiting, followed by a few verses mentioning patience:
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:25
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
Wait on the Lord: Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart. – Psalm 27:14
Our soul waiteth for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. – Psalm 33:20
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways. – Psalm 37:7
Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, And he shall exalt thee to inherit the land. – Psalm 37:34
I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me, and heard my cry. – Psalm 40:1
My soul, wait thou only upon God; For my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation. – Psalm 62:5-6
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, And in his word do I hope. – Psalm 130:5
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. – Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV)
And a few verses that mention patience:
Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – Romans 5:3-4
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. – Romans 8:25, NIV
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. – Romans 12:12, NIV
Let patience make her perfect work – James 1:4. The New International Version translates this as, “Let perseverance finish its work”.
Remind yourself also that there are few things more difficult in life than waiting. Comfort yourself that you are not the only one to have struggled with the pain of waiting; it is a struggle that has existed from time immemorial. In our age of instant gratification, waiting is harder than ever, as we simply do not have to practice patience as often in daily life. As Tom Petty once said, “The waiting is the hardest part”!
What can we do while we are waiting? Waiting is a chance to show our faith, so show it! Pray in a way that you are believing, not just begging. Tell God that you know how powerful he is, that you know he knows best and can grant your request anytime he wants. Jesus told us, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be yours” (Mark 11:24).
At the same time, bear in mind that Jesus also said to “seek first the kingdom of God”. In other words, we must be living in a godly way before we can expect our prayers to be answered and the waiting period to be over. Make sure to keep yourself faithful and also free from sin.
Lastly, never stop praying. St. Paul tells us to “Pray without ceasing” for a reason! (1 Thessalonians 5:17.) In our age of instant gratification, we are used to just asking for something once. But with God, it doesn’t work that way. We cannot expect our prayers to be answered with immediacy, as if they are orders. We must swallow our pride and ask for the same thing again and again – and again. We must ask God to be merciful, rather than simply just; to think of his promises and generosity, rather than our unworthiness. And we must keep praying – morning, noon, and night, and anytime in between. Pray constantly, not because of doubt, but because God wants you to be diligent in prayer. Let your diligence in prayer show how you will treasure the grace that you have asked for when it is granted.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to check out my new book, Passages for Inner Peace: Finding Joy and Comfort in the Psalms, available in paperback and e-book formats here.