Background of of this study – Lory Demshar
I wrote this study about five years ago when my husband at age 60 lost his job. His company went bankrupt. I wrestled with God during this time starting out with great faith and hope but after about one and a half years I began to become impatient and lose faith in God’s ability or will to help us. I began studying what it really meany to wait on God. I am sharing those thoughts with you.We prayed and waited on God, while my husband worked daily to find another job, After 2 and a half years he found the job that was perfect for him in every way.
Waiting on God
There is something familiar about this place. I have been here before. Infact, I have been in this room enough times that I should take some comfort in it, rather than the uneasiness that I feel. It is in this very room that I have come to know God and my “self” in a more real way. This room has an aura of sacredness about it that is compelling, yet I am tentative and cautious, not fully wanting to remain here. My fear and my sin have at times been exposed here, but it is also a place where building and refining of my faith and character have occurred. No, I am not in a school, a library, or a medical facility, but I am once again in “God’s Waiting Room.”
I am sure you have been in God’s waiting room before, also. Maybe you are or were here with a sick family member or friend; or with an unbelieving spouse or child; or with a rebellious teen; a difficult relationship at home, work or even in the church; a deep disappointment, or personal loss; financial troubles; wrestling with sin or faith. There are many reasons we come into this room.
In February of 2009, my husband was laid off from work. At age 60 this can be a frightening prospect. Eight months later, I am still waiting on God. I have been here before on and off in my walk with God. Once I was here for a few years while my husband recovered from a terminal illness. I have at times wasted my time in God’s waiting room, unaware of His working. There have been other times when I have looked for escape. This time, I am asking God to teach me how to wait.
The World’s View
Waiting in our society is a bad word. It projects images of frustration, being stuck, disgust, complaining, impatience, boredom, anger and hopelessness. We have seen people pacing, despairing, cursing, and loudly complaining even being enraged and abusive while waiting. We live in an age of instant everything. We are an impulsive, restless and at times a demanding people. We have automated tellers because we don’t want to wait in line at the bank; microwave ovens so we don’t have to wait for food to cook; self check outs so we don’t have to wait in line at the grocery store, e-z pass for the roadway, and instant access to information and communication all over the world with the click of a mouse. We want things quick and easy. So for us waiting is passé, but not so with God.
God advocates waiting, infact, he expects us to “wait” and in some instances commands it. In the Old Testament, God’s expectation for us to wait on His purposes and timing is seen in the example of Abraham as he patiently waited for 25 years for the promised son. David is an example of a man who waited for God to provide the right time for him to officially take his seat on the throne of Israel. During David’s time of waiting, Saul pursued him around the countryside with the intent to kill him. It was in this time period that many of the psalms were written which reveal David’s dependence on God and are an example to us today of a deeply personal relationship with God.
God’s concept of waiting does not carry the idea of frustration or “stuckness,” but rather one of expectation, hope, and development. Waiting on God is not a solid state but a process. Some verses in the Old Testament imply that waiting is an aspect of a living relationship with God in which bonding occurs between God and man.
Much of what we will study about waiting on God in this article is from the Old Testament concept of waiting. There are several words in the original text that refer to waiting. The purpose of using these words is not for an indepth word study but to get an overall picture of the concept of “waiting.” Waiting is an active process one in which God works and man works. Four of the most frequently used words for waiting are:
– qavah. which means (1) “to bind together” (suggesting twisting strands as in making a rope, Isa. 40:31) ,“look patiently,” “tarry or wait,” and “hope, expect, look eagerly,”
– Yachal which means “to wait” or “wait expectantly/ wait in hope,” in the KJV it is translated “trust,” (Isaiah 51:5).
– Damam means “to be dumb, “grow silent, be still,”
– chakah means “to wait, tarry,” or “long for” (Isa. 64:4; Ps.33:20; 106:13; Isa.30:18).
Each of these words carries with it similar yet slightly different meanings to the concept wait. We see it involves being patient, which means we need to give God time to work. The definition involving binding might imply God working to twist or braid all circumstances together as we wait. I like to look at it as God binding us ever closer in relationship to Him as he works out His will in our lives. It is similar to how difficulties and trials within a loving family bind its members closer together.
Then there is the word that implies waiting with expectation or hope. Usually when I am expectant, I am confident and I work towards the end I expect. Then there is waiting that involves being quiet, not complaining, pushing or constantly questioning. The quietness aspect may also have a component of “stillness,” which would imply we are not actively pursuing our own will. In Ps. 46 it says, “… be still and know that I am God”. Being still can be a time of learning and being refined as we wait.
What is involved in “waiting on God?”
Wait in Faith – In Psalm 38:15 we are encouraged to wait in faith: “I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.” In this verse the psalmist shows confidence/faith in God. In other words the psalmist is saying I will wait because I know, I am confident, I trust that God will answer me. He trusts in God’s power to help and God’s willingness to help him.
I wrestle with this. Sometimes I can know the truth intellectually that God is willing to help me, but when I am in the midst of a lengthy difficulty it is not so easy to believe. I start out seeing it clearly, but as time moves on and things become more difficult or are not working out the way I want them to, my ability to trust God’s goodness towards me can falter. I lose perspective and begin thinking things like, “God is not helping me,” “God is blessing others, but not me,” “What have I done that God is punishing me?” Statements like these reveal my lack of faith. My focus is on me, my feelings, my understanding, my situation, but not on God. When this happens, I am not waiting in faith.
Waiting in faith involves reading and trusting the Word of God. In Psalm 130:5 the scripture says, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope”. In other words, in God’s waiting room the psalmist is trusting in the Word of God. He is trusting God to fulfill his word. He is practicing faith. When we are in God’s waiting room we must be in the Word of God in order to sustain our trust in Him through time. Reading and meditating on the word of God restores our perspective and builds up our understanding and faith in God. At times when I am very discouraged by circumstances, I sit down and remember how God has worked in the lives of people in the Bible and in my life previously. I review events in the Bible like the opening of the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho coming down, Daniel in the lion’s den, Elijah in the contest on Mt. Carmel, and so on. I remember that the God in these accounts is the same God that I believe and trust in, and I am encouraged. It restores my perspective of God working in my life.
Wait on God in Obedience- In Psalm 119:166, the psalmist says, “I wait for your salvation, O LORD, and I follow your commands.” Similar thoughts are expressed in Psalm 37:34, “Wait for the LORD, and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land…”. As the psalmist waits on God to deliver him, he is obeying God. Even though we are in God’s waiting room, we should continue to obey God in our daily lives. We cannot stop or stall out in our daily walk with God. We need to continue to put God’s word into practice in our lives. We need to be active in sharing faith, encouraging and serving others. I have found that when I make the decision to obey God, inspite of the fact that I may feel frustrated by being in the waiting room, it makes the time in the room more meaningful and removes the drudgery of the waiting. When I focus on others, I am not so self-absorbed. Also, if all I do is fret and moan about my circumstances, I am “murmuring” against God, neglecting loving others and undermining faith.
Isaiah 26:8 shows what depth of love and honor for God should be my motive for obeying and waiting: “ Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” What is my motivation in waiting, is it to honor God and to magnify His name to others, or is it just a way to ease my frustration?
Wait on God with Expectation
Micah 7:7 speaks of the concept of expectation in our waiting: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Waiting on God with expectation that he will act is really a facet of faith. The idea of waiting in expectation implies a strength of confidence in God. In other words we are not just hanging on, gutting it out, but really expecting our Father to act, so much so that we begin to watch intently for his working. In Psalms 130:6, the psalmist describes this intensity of waiting with expectation: “ My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Upon reading this passage I have to ask, “Is my waiting on God this filled with faith? Is it this consistent? Is it this intense?”
Wait on God in Stillness
Lamentations 3:26 says, “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”
Psalm 37:7 encourages us to “ Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…”
When in God’s waiting room, we need to be quiet and still. Our heart’s attitude should be one of listening and reflecting on God, His way and our hearts. Sometimes, my focus becomes intent on working out the solution the way I think it should be done, instead of waiting on God. In pride, I spend my time fretting or complaining. Why is it that we think we have the right to “vent?” When I “vent” I am complaining against God instead of trusting him. Venting is prideful and self-focused, it robs us of faith. We can become focused on how unfair or wrong we think our situation is.
When we are busy complaining or trying to work things out to our satisfaction, we may miss what God is doing. We may miss seeing God and his working. God may be working something out not only for our benefit but also for the blessing of others. God blessed many through Abraham’s waiting for the promised son. Similarly, God blessed the Israelites through Joseph’s time in God’s waiting room. We need to be still and seek to know God. The waiting room can be a time when God reveals Himself more deeply.
At times we may be disciplined in God’s waiting room. I know this is an unpleasant thought, and it is not always the case, but it is true. In Isaiah 38:13, Hezekiah describes this discipline as he waited on God: “I waited patiently till dawn, but like a lion he broke all my bones; day and night you made an end of me.” Hezekiah was humble and accepted the situation from God saying, “…but what can I say? He has spoken to me and he himself has done this. I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of soul. Lord, by such things men live; and my spirit finds life in them too… surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.” (Is. 38:15-17a) It takes humility and faith to be still and wait on God. How still are you in God’s waiting room?
God Rewards Those Who Wait on Him
Waiting on God is not always easy or comfortable. So, I will close with this encouragement: God rewards those who wait on Him. In Isaiah 64:4, Isaiah reminds Israel that their waiting on God would be rewarded: “…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.” We see a similar thought in Isaiah 30:18, “…Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” And again in Isaiah 40:31, he reminds us, “… those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
When you are in God’s waiting room, take heart, He is there with you. Be still and learn of Him.