There was a question troubling me…
Why did God wait so long to send His son? Why didn’t He send Jesus at the time of Noah’s flood, or shortly after Adam and Eve brought sin into the world for that matter? I believe that there are several answers to this question. Here are a couple of them.
For one thing, before man (meaning mankind) fully understood that he was like a king over the earth, man lost his dominion. Mankind needed to see what a kingdom looked like, and the Roman empire was a good example.
But I think the main reason Christ came when He did was in order that we might learn faith. “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:23-24).
We learn many other things as well because God chose to wait. “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:22-23).
Non-Christians criticize God for taking so long to send Jesus, although we can see there are several good reasons why He did. Even Christians loose faith when they feel God is taking too long to act in some way in their life. So what in the world is He doing in our lives, anyway?
Why “God Takes Too Long” in Our Lives
Since I was a teenager I wanted so badly to move overseas and have adventures in other countries. I became very depressed and frustrated with my life and I didn’t understand why God was taking so long. My husband has had even less opportunities for traveling despite his eager desire. He too has asked God, “Why have you had me wait all these years?”
Our neighbor lady was married for 20 years before she had her first child. There are many reasons why God has us wait, and we don’t always understand the reasons. But here is a list of five common reasons God has us wait for Him:
1. Waiting Reveals Our True Motives
Waiting has a way of bringing out the best and worst in people. Most of us have good intentions, but a lot of what we want to accomplish is an attempt to make a name for ourselves or for our own egos. It hurts to say this, but it’s often true.
2. Waiting Builds Patience In Our Lives
Patience in waiting for small things leads to having patience in the bigger things. Our problem is our perspective is usually wrong. We tend to think the bigger things in life are finances and possessions, while God thinks influencing and changing people is more important.
3. Waiting Builds Anticipation
Why do children get so excited around Christmas? Because the wait has produced anticipation. We tend to appreciate things the longer we have to wait for them.
4. Waiting Transforms Our Character
Few sermons talk about Moses having to wait in the desert 40 years before God came to him. God used this time of waiting to transform his character. We know this because when he was a young man he was brash and impatient. In his impetuousness he killed a man and hid the body. When his sin was made public, he ran for his life and was exiled to the desert. When he was given a second chance he opted to do it God’s way and in God’s time.
5. Waiting Builds Intimacy and Dependency Upon God
The reason we are able to read about the great men and women of the Bible is because they all had one thing in common. They were all people who learned their success in life was directly proportionate to their intimacy and dependency upon God. For them, a relationship with God wasn’t a get rich quick scheme. For many of them it was a matter of life and death.
The good news is that God never asks us to wait without Him
Waiting during the difficult times developed their relationship with God. Some of the most intimate relationships we have in our lives are because a friend stood in the trenches with us during the heat of the battle. Maybe this is what the scripture means when it says we have a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).The reason we get to read the stories of these great men and women is because they went through the difficulties of life with God. In the end, they enjoyed the promise of God.
Waiting is Not Passive
Love is patient.
God wants us to know that waiting is far from a passive activity in which we do nothing. In fact, Scripture teaches us that God wants us to actively participate in the work he desires to accomplish. Waiting strategically can cultivate good fruit in in our lives such as patience, perseverance, and endurance. It also draws us closer to our Savior and points those who are watching us to the gospel.
To that end, here are ten things to do while you wait.
1. Believe that the God who saved you hears your cries (Micah 7:7).
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 8:32)
The cross is our guarantee that God is for us and is committed to give us everything we would ask for if we knew everything he knew. We can be content with that and wait patiently for his answers.
2. Watch with expectancy, but be prepared for unexpected answers (Psalm 5:3).
Growing in humility means pride has to be done away with. Learning to love like Jesus requires us to say no to self’s constant demand for selfish ambition, wanting our own way, and putting ourselves first. Growing in patience inevitably involves some form of waiting, whether in a long line at the grocery story or a lifetime for a loved one to come to Christ. When we lay our requests before him, it is by faith that we wait and watch in anticipation of God’s good work in us and others.
3. Put your hope in his Word (Psalm 130:5-6).
It seems that God allows us to experience disappointments in life to teach us that nothing else will truly satisfy or provide us with a firm foundation to stand upon. God’s Word alone is unshakable. We can wait for the Lord knowing that, no matter how dark the night is, his light will break through in our lives, bringing abundant joy through a more intimate relationship with Christ.
4. Trust in the Lord, not in your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Why is it so tempting for us to depend on our own wisdom rather than the wisdom of our all-wise God? What makes us think that we know better than he does what is best for us? Scripture speaks clearly about how to live life abundantly forever with Christ; yet, all too easily, we justify our sin, declare distasteful commands irrelevant, and do what is right in our own eyes. Seasons of waiting reveal where we are placing our trust.
5. Resist fretting, refrain from anger, be still, and choose patience (Psalm 37:7-8).
It is easy to say we trust God, but our response to delays, frustrations, and difficult situations exposes where we are actually placing our hope. When we choose to wait quietly and trustingly, we not only honor God but encourage others to put their hope in him as well.
6. Be strong and take courage (Psalm 27:13-14, 31:24).
I have found that one of my biggest battles in long seasons of waiting is fighting fear and all its buddies like anxiety, fretfulness, and worry. A voice in my head asks, “What if this happens? What if God doesn’t answer my prayers?” It is the gospel that has taught me that enduring strength and courage will never be found in myself but in Christ. I am empowered to be courageous when:
- I meditate on the sovereign rule and power of God and his abundant goodness in sending a Savior to set me free from sin.
- I remember that my “light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Ever. He is Immanuel, God with us. That’s a promise that will sustain us while we wait for answers to prayer, but even more, as we wait for his triumphant return!
7. See it as an opportunity to experience God’s goodness (Psalm 27:13; Lamentations 3:25).
When my focus is on my problems and what God has or has not given me, I am prone to grumbling, complaining, discontentment, bitterness, and selfishness. When I define goodness by what brings me the most comfort, happiness, and gratification in this life, then anything that threatens these things will tempt me to question God’s love and goodness.
God demonstrated his goodness when Christ absorbed the wrath of God that we deserved, making a way for us to be set free from the power of sin and our enemy Satan, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our eternal joy and peace. For those who have eyes to see, seasons of waiting offer countless opportunities to witness God at work in and through us for our eternal good and his glory.
8. Don’t go your own way instead of waiting for God’s promise (Acts 1:4).
Scripture offers plenty of examples of saints who got weary of waiting for God and chose to do things their way. I have given way to that temptation as well.
God’s goodness is promised for those who wait patiently for him! No matter how long. Regardless of how hopeless things appear to us. Even when it seems to cost us everything. “God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to his power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). When we wait for him, we will never be disappointed.
9. Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2).
Another temptation we face when God does not seem to be answering our prayers is to stop praying, stop expecting him to act, while giving way to a spirit of cynicism, rather than thanking God for who he is and all he has done for us. While God may not answer in our timing or in the way we expect, he will accomplish his good purposes in our lives when we wait for him and persevere in prayer.
10. Remember the blessings yet to come (Isaiah 30:18).
As long as our hope is set on this life and things that gratify our flesh, we will likely feel frustrated, discouraged, and even hopeless. Jesus Christ came to offer us eternal joy and freedom from sin and, although we have been set free from sin’s power, sin’s presence is still at work in and around us. Thankfully, the gospel assures us, as believers, that God is for us and works all things together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land; But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” Christ is the answer! He is your rest and the treasure that you seek.