The Prayer by William-Adolphe Bouguereauby Vida Earnshaw 

Why does the Lord cause His children to go through periods of waiting?  Being in the midst of a waiting period myself, I’ve given this question much thought.  Waiting is difficult, probably one of the most challenging things I have faced thus far.  As finite human beings, we want immediate provision of our needs.  We want to know right now exactly what the Lord has planned for us in the future.  We want to see God work and do what He has promised immediately.  Sometimes God allows us a glimpse, a vision, of what He may do, how He may use us, but then He makes us wait for the fulfillment of that vision.  Why does He make us wait?

As I have pondered this question and searched the Scriptures, it is comforting to know that we are not alone in having to wait on the Lord.  The Scripture is replete with examples of people who had to wait on the Lord.  It seems that most, if not all, of God’s servants had to go through a time of waiting.  Noah waited 100 years for the fulfillment of God’s promise to send a worldwide flood to destroy the earth.  Abraham had to wait 25 years for the birth of his promised son.  Joseph had to endure a long wait (22 years) for the fulfillment of the dreams of his youth.  Moses had to wait on the Lord’s timing to be used to deliver the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt.  Ruth waited on the Lord for a husband by choosing to follow Naomi and her God to the land of Israel instead of returning to her own people as her sister-in-law did.  Hannah waited many years for a child.  David was anointed to be king as a young man, but spent many years fleeing for his life before God saw fit to bring him to the throne.  These are just a few of the many examples in Scripture where God placed His servants in a position where they had to wait on Him.  Why does God choose to work this way?

Several reasons have become apparent to me.  First, God receives the most glory by making us wait on Him.  God is intensely interested in His glory, in His being made big in our eyes.

This interest in His glory is clearly seen in Moses’ life.  God made Moses wait for the appointed time to deliver the Israelites from Egypt because He wanted His people, the Egyptians, and all the surrounding nations to know that He alone is God.  Exodus 7:5 And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.  God told Pharaoh, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.  For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that [there is] none like me in all the earth.  For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.  And in very deed for this [cause] have I raised thee up, for to shew [in] thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth” (Exodus 9:14-16, emphasis added).  If Moses had been allowed to deliver his people when he first desired to do so, God would not have received the fullness of glory He deserves.

God also glorified Himself in the eyes of Joseph and his brothers through Joseph’s long wait.  In Genesis 50:15-21 we see that his brothers came to a place of repentance for their sin against him.  Joseph was able to help them see God’s hand in their lives.  They had meant it for evil when they sold him into slavery, but God meant it for good.

Hannah glorified God when He finally blessed her with a son after years of waiting.  She probably wouldn’t have thought so much of it if God had given her children immediately.  Also, because Hannah gave her son to the Lord’s service, Samuel became a prophet, a mighty servant of the Lord.  She probably wouldn’t have dedicated her son to the Lord if she hadn’t had to wait for a child for so long.

A second reason that God often makes us wait is to place us in a position where we must trust Him.  God wants our hope and confidence to rest on Him alone, not in our circumstances or other people.  David’s trust in God was deepened while fleeing from Saul.  The Psalms are full of statements of His trust in God.  For example, Psalm 57:1-3 [[To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.]] Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until [these] calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth [all things] for me.  He shall send from heaven, and save me [from] the reproach of him that would swallow me up.  Selah.  God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.  Often periods of waiting reveal whether or not we truly trust the Lord.

God also uses waiting times to cause us to grow in godliness.  The more we turn to the Lord and trust Him through these times, the more we grow to be like Him.  God is accomplishing all of these purposes through my own time of waiting.  These past four years of waiting on His perfect timing to finish up my final year of college have been full of lessons.  God has transformed my thinking in many ways.  The longer I wait, the more I realize that I must choose to trust God, as opposed to thinking that my way is hidden from Him.  I pray that He will move in such a way that He will be glorified, both in my eyes and in the eyes of all who observe my life.

Does God have you in a period of waiting? You have a choice before you. Will you choose to trust God and do what He wants you to do while you wait or will you despair that the wait is too long, become bitter against the Lord, and try to take matters into your own hands?

May God help us each to wait patiently on Him, remembering that His ways and timing are perfect.


© Copyright 2007 by Vida Earnshaw