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Why is waiting on God so difficult?

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Waiting on God is not only difficult; sometimes it seems impossible. We want things to happen in our own timing, according to our plans. But God doesn’t operate on our schedules, and expecting that He will sets one up for disappointment.

Waiting on God means going without answers to prayer, wondering why the wicked seem to prosper, and having desires delayed and hope deferred. God has a greater perspective of life’s events, and His perspective, plans, and schedules are perfect and holy, because He is perfect and holy. The psalmist tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). If God’s ways are “perfect,” then we can trust that whatever He does—and whatever His timing—is also perfect. When we grasp that fact, waiting on God is not only made less difficult, it actually becomes joyful.

The promises of God are clear on this matter—in waiting on God, we find our strength renewed (Isaiah 40:31). But we are human, and we live in a fast-paced culture that demands everything now. That’s one reason why waiting on God is difficult. Sometimes, the prayers we lift up to the Lord of Hosts are answered immediately, and that encourages us to further trust and confidence. However, sometimes the Lord’s answers are delayed. Over a period of time, the Lord tests our faith, and that’s when we can really struggle. We may even start to wonder whether the Lord is really listening to our prayers.

Waiting on God should not cause the believer to doubt or to worry. The apostle Paul exhorts us to not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6). The King James Version translates this as the command to be “careful for nothing.” This means we are not to be full of care over anything; we should be mindful of nothing that might cause concern, except to bring it to God in prayer. Anxiety in the believer suggests a lack of faith, and that grieves the Lord (see Matthew 8:26).

Waiting on God can keep us out of trouble. Abraham had God’s promise of a son through whom the covenant would be fulfilled (Genesis 15:4). Abraham and Sarah tried and waited, but they could have no child. Rather than waiting on God and His timing, they unwisely took matters into their own hands, and Ishmael was the result (Genesis 16).

One divine attribute that will enable us to patiently wait on God is His sovereignty. We can have complete confidence in His total, independent control over every creature, event, and circumstance at every moment in history. Subject to none, influenced by none, and absolutely independent, God does what He pleases, only as He pleases, and always as He pleases. Nothing can stay His hand: “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10). Once we better understand God’s sovereignty, coupled with His goodness, waiting for God to act becomes a matter of a child trusting in his father’s faithfulness, sure of his father’s strength.

Waiting on God is never easy, but we wait in the knowledge that God knows our situation, He cares for our needs, and He is good to the end. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022