How do we respond when something we long for doesn’t happen or is taking a long time to happen? We’ve all been there, where we’ve prayed for something to happen in our lives and it has either taken far longer than we would have liked or not happened at all. I think our natural response to being forced to wait is anger or doubt – that has always been fallen man’s impatient response, ever since the first humans walked the earth. If we think about Adam and Eve for a second, it’s a story of two people who deep down didn’t believe that God had their interests at heart. Subsequently, they tried to do things their own way and rebelled, you know the rest of the story.
I write this as someone who often feels frustrated and discontent when things aren’t going my way, so I want us to explore together, what is the biblical attitude to embrace while waiting on God to provide?
Remember who you’re waiting on
When we’re frustrated that something hasn’t happened yet or happened the way we would like it to, it’s so easy to forget God’s character and the promises He has made to us in scripture. I love the book of Job; however, it can be a difficult read because there’s cause to feel great sympathy for Job. We’re told in verse one of chapter one that he was “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” yet by God’s sovereign will, he went through enormous pain and suffering inflicted by Satan.
In chapters 29 to 31, Job cries out in anguish at his circumstances. It’s God’s response in chapters 38 and 39 that I want to focus on. I would encourage you to read Job 38 to 40 where you’re sitting. It’s a mind-blowing portion of scripture in which God gives example after example of his might and his sovereignty. It is hard to read those verses and afterwards still feel discontent with God’s provision for you, instead, you may well find yourself hit with a sense of awe of His sheer might.
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
Reflecting on God’s sovereignty and might is a helpful way to combat impatience and discontent. Spend time in prayer praising him and thanking him for the many blessings he has already provided. He knows what you truly need, and he will provide it.
Ask Him to work on you
In this time of waiting, we have a great opportunity to ask God to use it to develop our character, so we become more like Christ. In fact, I believe that in many cases that’s the reason we don’t get what we ask for right away – God is working on our character, sanctification is taking place throughout the waiting.
A verse I quote often, to myself as well as others is Romans 8:28.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
Few things are more comforting to me than reminding myself of this truth. In every season of life, in every frustration and disappointment, God is working for my good, and ultimately for his glory. We can truly rest and find peace in this knowledge. With this comfort as a foundation, we can ask God to help us become more patient and content with our circumstances. While we pray for the desires of our heart to come to fruition, we should be asking him to teach us what we need to be taught in the meantime.
Three keys to Godly waiting
In Romans 12, Paul is writing about the marks of a true Christian, and in verse 12 he urges his readers to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”. This sums it up better than I ever could.
- Rejoice in the hope that you have. A glorious hope based on the gospel of Jesus Christ, of an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:4).
- Be patient in the tribulation, because as we’ve already considered, everything you go through will work together for your good, and his glory.
- Be constant in prayer. God is the dearest, closest friend you could ever have. He cares intimately about you and he knows exactly what you need. Continually speak to him, tell him about every desire and disappointment. It sounds obvious, but how easy it is to neglect regular prayer.
As we put these scriptural mandates into practice, I pray that we would become better at waiting for him to provide for us, and that we would be able to whole-heartedly say with Paul:
“my God will supply every need… according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.”Phillipians 4:19-20
To find out more about about this topic, listen to the latest episode of #ThePulsePodcast