Gilland: The power found in waiting

As long as I can remember, I have hated this word in all its many forms—that word wait.

In its root form, this is one powerful, yet dreaded four-letter word. Images of Christmases past, when my parents would not let me open the presents just yet…for I needed to “wait.”

Or anticipating a big event that just wasn’t arriving soon enough. I can still hear the voice of my Mom saying, “Son, be patient. It will be here soon enough.”

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It didn’t take me long to grow in my disdain for that word. I didn’t care for it one little bit.

As I’ve grown older, it hasn’t gone away. This word, and that process mentioned by my mother, is still a major factor in my life. Its frequency and appearance in my day-to-day activities have seemingly increased.

Let’s face it: We don’t like to wait. From microwave ovens to fast-food restaurants, our culture is continually trying to remove the wait factor from our daily lives. I am convinced that the effort to do so is a losing cause. There are some things in life for which we just need to…well, wait. I have become convinced that this dreaded process is sometimes part of God’s design and purpose.

There are many reasons why that would be the case. For one, instant gratification is a fickle friend. When we get what we want once, we can quickly grow to demanding that same outcome. And that feeds more impatience and self-centeredness than we can comprehend.

Waiting causes us to take our hands off the stopwatch and endure the time in-between.

An oft-quoted Bible verse is found in Isaiah 40:31. It is the last verse in that chapter, a fitting place for such truth. (After all, we had to wait to the end of the chapter to get this nugget!) There, Isaiah gives us a beloved promise:

“…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)

In Hebrew, we see a couple of meanings in the word wait as it appears in this passage. One is what we would expect: the enduring of time until the answer comes. The answer that comes from this promise is renewal, a refreshing of strength, and a greater ability than we had before. That is a pretty good motive to wait!

But a second meaning of this word is to “wait upon.” This is the concept of a “waiter” at a restaurant—one who serves. Rather than sitting idly while we wait for our prayers to be answered, the wise person goes on with life, looking for areas in which he can serve (wait on) the Lord and His purposes.

While waiting is not necessarily a fun process, this experience almost always produces a good fruit in our lives. Its “trying of our faith” works patience. And, its deferring actions causes a renewal in our lives when the answer comes.

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