Waiting is a part of life. In fact, it’s a part of God’s plan for our lives. Whether it’s waiting in line or waiting for an answer, how do we make the time a blessing instead of feeling like it is a curse? How do we wait well?
“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.” – Psalm 33:20-21
Last week, we learned that waiting is indeed a gift from God and is a part of His plan for our lives and marriages. While God often tells us to wait, He assures us of blessings that come from waiting on Him. This week we will look at what God’s Word says about HOW to WAIT.
Wait with HOPE…
One way to wait is found in Psalm 33:20-22: “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” We are to wait with hope.
The word for hope in these verses is translated from the Hebrew word “niph.” It means to have a sense of expectation of something good coming as we wait for God to do His work in our lives. We see evidence of having this type of hope in Psalm 40:1-3, as David writes: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.”
We don’t know exactly what David’s situation was, but it was bad. Being in a “slimy pit,” and “mud and mire” is not good. But as he waited on God and put his hope in Him, God lifted David up, set him on solid ground, and put a song in his heart. When we wait on the Lord with hope we can experience the same thing in our marriages.
We see more about waiting with hope in Psalm 37:1-9: “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”
Wait with a RIGHT FOCUS…
We wait on God with hope by focusing on Him. We cannot focus on what other people are doing or not doing or the outcomes of their lives. Instead, we must focus on the Lord.
Hebrews 12:2 says: “[We fix] our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
And God also tells us in Colossians 3:1-2: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Wait with TRUST and OBEDIENCE…
We also are told in the Psalm 37 passage above that we will enjoy all the good He desires for us when we trust in Him and demonstrate that trust by obeying His Word.
We must study His Word and then live it. We do as He tells us in James 1:22: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
The words to this old hymn by John Sammis says it well: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
Isaiah 64:4-6 tells us of the blessing we receive when we trust God and follow His ways: “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways.”
Yet another way that we wait for God is exemplified for us by Jesus’ followers after His resurrection and ascension to heaven. We read in Acts 1:12-14: “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” They did what Jesus had taught and shown them–they prayed.
We must pray as we wait. And we can pray with confidence as we seek His will when we wait. In 1 John 5:14-15 we are told: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (bold mine). We can be sure seeking what He wants for our future is His will.
We can pray with the confidence of God’s prophet Micah: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me” (Micah 7:7).
Wait with EXPECTATION and PATIENCE…
As we just read, we know if we ask according to God’s will, He will hear and answer us. He may not answer in our time schedule or in exactly the way we expect, but He will answer.
Habakkuk prophesied when Israel was under Babylonian rule. He received a promise from God that once His people had been disciplined, the Babylonian rule would end and they would be restored. Habakkuk asked God for further clarification. And we see His answer in Habakkuk 2:2-3: “Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.’”
The early Christians waited expectantly for Jesus’ return. God had Peter teach them about waiting hopefully and patiently in 2 Peter 3:8-9: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Wait with JOY…
The final way we are to wait takes us back to where we started this post—Psalm 33:20-22: “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”.
We wait in hope with joy because God is our help and our shield. He is a God of unfailing love. He can be trusted.
Some of you are in a waiting situation right now. You have been waiting for God to intervene. You’ve been waiting for that job to come or for physical healing. Whatever it is, never forget that with God waiting time isn’t wasted time, because while we are waiting, God is working. He is working to burn off impurities in our lives–those things that are unlike Jesus–so He can mold us into who He wants us to be. He is waiting for just the right time when we are ready.
Waiting has always been a part of God’s plan for His choicest servants. Abraham and Sarah waited 20 years for Isaac. Noah waited 120 years for God to fulfill His promise. Moses waited 40 years in the desert, thinking God had forgotten about him before God chose to use him again. Paul, after his conversion, spent three years waiting in Arabia before God gave him the assignment to reach the Gentiles (see Galatians 1:15-18).
Never forget: While we are waiting, God is working in our lives and marriages, doing something powerful on our behalf.
Questions for Discussion
♦ Read this week’s teaching together and discuss what God has taught you through it.
♦ How would you describe your life and marriage right now? Is it hopeful, hopeless, or somewhere in between? However you answered this question, discuss together how you might move forward from here. Discuss Scriptures that will help you with this. Commit together to use these Scriptures this week, and to discuss them together this week so you can stay on track.
♦ Do you struggle with comparing your life to that of others? If so, discuss this and think of ways you can get your mind on God and what He’s done for you instead. What Scriptures might be helpful to you in this area? This is somewhat of an issue for all of us. A book that I found helpful in my own life, and have used in teaching and counseling, is When People Are Big and God Is Small by Edward T. Welch.* I think you will find it helpful also.
♦ Close your time with prayer asking God to help you remain hopeful or grow in your hope by trusting Him more all the time.
Next week we will conclude our study of time and how it impacts our marriages. We will discuss how to use our time well to the very end.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the TIME & MARRIAGE series:
Part 1 – Five Years Ago…Five Years Ahead
Part 2 – One in Purpose
Part 3 – Making Time for Rest
Part 4 – Making Time to Love and Serve
Part 5 – The Value of Waiting
Part 7 – Strong to the End
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