Our earthly days are often strung together by threads of waiting. we catch it in mentions as our friends tell their stories:
“I had given up on getting pregnant, and then along came little Jackson.”
“I was nearly bankrupt when I landed that big contract.”
“My sickness was undiagnosed for years, now I can finally get treatment.”
“I was sure I would be single forever, and then I met Seth.”
Most of us have stories of our own. Holding on to hope when fulfillment seems completely out of reach is not natural to us. We are plagued by doubts and fears and the lurking expectation of disappointment. We don’t want to play the fool. Maybe what we are hoping for isn’t meant to be. Maybe God has different plans. Maybe we don’t deserve what we’re hoping for. These thoughts often rule us and put a damper on our optimism as we consider how much easier it is to give up than it is to keep hoping.
God Isn’t Messing With Us
God does not keep us waiting because of a mischievous desire to mess with our heads by putting things on hold until we give up on what we want before He gives us the object of our desire. God doesn’t work that way. He is neither petty nor immature in His dealings with His children.
Our desires for personal success and satisfaction, however, are often intricately entangled with our desire to bring glory to God, to see His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as in heaven. It is not always easy to find where one desire ends and another begins. Do you want marriage and children because you are lonely, or because those relationships will be glorifying to the Lord? To which many will answer: yes. Do you want your business to be successful so your bank account will be full, or because a Christian business can be a powerful force for building Christ’s kingdom in the culture? Again we say, yes.
While we can be sure of the success of Christ’s kingdom, we don’t have the same assurance that the Lord will use our preferred method to bring it about. Still, the details of our days are not divorced from the greater story of the success of God’s kingdom. He has had His plans from the beginning and is working them out in the here-and-now at His perfect pace for the good of those who love Him and the success of His kingdom. When we don’t understand our lives in the context of the greater story we become frustrated and hopeless all too easily.
Waiting in Hope
God’s work is often long in coming yet sudden in appearing. Someone recently mentioned this to me and it struck me as utterly true. This protracted suddenness is most dazzlingly displayed in the coming of Christ whose incarnation was preceded by thousands of years of longing and anticipation. To Mary, the appearance of the angel was sudden. To the shepherds the heavenly host appeared unexpectedly. They didn’t expect to be greeted by good tidings of great joy. They were busy with the normal work of a normal day. They had probably packed satchels for a night in the fields and brewed thermoses of coffee to keep them awake on the job—same old, same old. It’s unlikely they considered the potential that an angel host might declare to them the present fulfillment of ancient prophecy. This announcement was sudden to the ears hearing it, but it was received as the fruit of a long-held hope for the Messiah to right all that was wrong in the world.
Our hopes in this world are sometimes fulfilled in this same manner. Sometimes barrenness turns to fruitfulness like it did for Abraham and Sarah; sometimes servitude turns to honor like it did for Joseph in Egypt. These things appeared suddenly in the here-and-now for actual people who were waiting, but also accomplished the greater purpose of God. Sometimes God’s purpose requires waiting that is not satisfied until that blessed day when there will be no more sickness and no more tears and the lame and the blind will be healed and peace on earth will be complete. This too will arrive suddenly…after a long wait.
Being People of Hope
We are to be people of hope. We are to “hope continually” (Psalm 71:14). The wealth of hopefulness in the Psalms is voiced in the midst of a variety of physical trials, persecutions, spiritual depression, and despair, experienced by the psalmists. This hoping is not a glib exhortation to buck up and be happy, to ignore the trouble of the world or your life because Jesus will save your soul. No, this hope is rooted in an understanding that the Lord of our hearts is also Lord of heaven and earth and He is victorious. We, His children, will share in His victory for all eternity.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.—Isaiah 9:6-7
These optimistic words were spoken long before the appearance of the heavenly host and the birth of the Savior, before the perfect sacrifice was made at Calvary, before the head of the serpent was crushed, before the veil was torn and the shadowy mysteries fulfilled, before the ascension of King Jesus to the right hand of the Father, before all His enemies were made a footstool, before every knee bowed and every tongue confessed.
This hope flows out of knowing the God of the promises. Isaiah knew the God he waited upon whose will was to redeem His people, and so he waited. We, like our faithful fathers, must wait in hope. We wait, not with a someday hope but with a right-now hope, knowing that in the end our times of waiting will not have been in vain. They will have accomplished His purposes in us and in the world, as all things do. In these waiting times He is training our hearts to trust Him completely, and securing the frayed ends of the threads of our waiting hopes to Himself, for none who trust in Him shall ever be disappointed.
Has your trust in God grown in times of waiting? Talk to us in the comments below.