I am not a patient man and never have been. I do not like to wait or be kept waiting. But it’s not like I want to be this way. I cannot become patient fast enough. I really want this fruit of the Holy Spirit to be more readily observable in my life. I just want it to be observable right now.
the fear of waiting
I do not like to wait because I am afraid. I am afraid of the unknown. I cannot handle the uncertainty that waiting often brings. I want to get to the situation for which I wait or find the answer for which I am looking, whether it be for good or ill. At least then I can deal with it. At least then I know something. At least then I do not have to wait.
waiting on god
Waiting can lead to perseverance and to greater faith. Waiting can remind us of our utter dependence on God and His Word. When we do not wait on Him, we bring more trouble on ourselves. Abraham greatly complicated his family when he took Hagar to bear a son instead of waiting for God to use Sarah. Saul lost his kingdom when he offered sacrifices at Gilgal instead of waiting for Samuel. Judas lost his life when he grew angry at how God was working to bring in His kingdom. In these cases and many others recorded in Scripture, fear that God would not move—or would not move quickly enough—brought impatience, doubt, fear, and then greater sin.
the benefits of waiting
When God’s people wait on Him, He brings them great blessing. The ancient Israelites waited four hundred years after Malachi to hear from God again. Simeon waited his whole life for the Consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25). Both were rewarded with the gift of Messiah. We wait and hope for the time beyond this life when we will have the greatest blessing of all, an eternity to live in the direct presence of almighty God. Then there will be no more waiting. Faith will finally be sight.
I suppose if I were to focus on God’s character, I would not have a problem with patience. If I were to remember that God’s relationship to time is not the same as my own (2 Peter 3:8–9), I might realize that though I wait, God is not waiting at all. He is moving according to His perfect plan and purpose. Perhaps I would remember that the Bible shows me that God is not slow to keep His promises, but is faithful to deliver His people. Perhaps I would not fear the future but rather fear the God who holds the future in His hands. Then I would see that God is building His city, His kingdom, according to His time and set plan, not my own. Then I would be patient.
I hope I can wait.
Robert Rothwell (@Robert_Rothwell) is associate editor for Tabletalk magazine and resident adjunct professor at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Fla.