Our culture emphasizes, among other things, instant gratification. We desire everything, and we desire it right now—whether it is sex, money, a promotion, or even a parking space—and we want it regardless of the cost to others, or even ourselves, and some will do anything to get it. Not only do we want everything and right now, but we feel and act as though we are actually entitled to it, as if we’re owed.
The Bible, God’s holy inerrant Word, has a different perspective. It says we should act otherwise, not as though everyone owes us the world. The Bible teaches delayed gratification, patience. It teaches us to wait.
There’s more to patience than simply keeping your cool while waiting in a long line at Wal-Mart, or not wanting to run that person going below the speed limit off the road. Although that type patience is very important and expected of us (Gal. 5:22; 1 Thes. 5:14), the patience we’ll focus on today is one of having patience with God. This patience allows our overall patience to grow.
Although it may seem as though we are idling through life without a reason for being there, it’s simply not the case. God never wastes our time. He has us where we are for a reason, even if we don’t know what it is, or feel as though we’re not doing anything, or don’t want to be there, or are plain bored. If you feel like God wants you somewhere else or doing something else, but all your plans fall through and you just don’t make any progress getting there, then just wait (and pray). It is not yet the right time. You must wait on God’s timing, not your own. But the key in this waiting is preparing. While you are waiting, you must be preparing yourself for what’s to come, whatever that may be. The Bible is clear in showing that patience is not just a sitting on your backside doing nothing type of waiting; it’s an active waiting (Heb. 12:1). Let’s look at some examples.
Joseph was thrown into prison on false accusations (Gen. 39:10-21). While in prison, he interpreted dreams for the king’s cupbearer and baker (Gen. 40). Joseph told the cupbearer to mention him to the king in order to get out. But the cupbearer forgot. It wasn’t until two years later that the king had a dream of his own that needed interpreted that the cupbearer remembered Joseph (Gen. 41:1-13). Pharaoh removed Joseph from prison, told him his dream, and Joseph interpreted it. Joseph was then placed into a position only second from Pharaoh (Gen. 41:37-45). This put him into a position to help, not only Egypt, but his people survive, for if it were not for God placing Joseph in that position, the Israelites would have died off because of the famine (Gen. 45:4-11). Now that is God’s timing.
Moses spent the first two-thirds of his life preparing for the last third. Moses spent his first 40 years in Egypt and fled after killing an Egyptian (Ex. 11-15). The next 40 years of his life was spent raising his own family, as well as being a shepherd to his father-in-law’s flock (Ex. 3:1). The last 40 years of his life was spend being a shepherd to God’s flock, leading them out of Egypt and through the wilderness. All in God’s timing.
Esther was given a seemingly perfect opportunity to ask the king of Persia to spare her people, instead she said, “tomorrow” (Est. 5:6-8). The timing seemed perfect, and in fact, Esther was very much prepared (Est. 4:15-5:2). But King Xerxes was not. Esther was able to discern when to speak and when not to, for she had prepared herself the three days prior. Although she was ready, she knew it wasn’t yet time to make her request. She waited for God’s perfect timing.
Paul went away to Arabia and then to Damascus after his calling and conversion, and didn’t return to Jerusalem for three years to do a little witnessing (Gal. 1:15-24). It wasn’t until fourteen years later that God called him to return to Jerusalem and actually begin his unforgettable, amazingly influential, zealous, ministry for the Lord! (Gal. 2:1-10). You better believe that Paul was not simply sitting on his rump during those 13 years; he was preparing! And he sure was ready when God’s timing came for him to do as he was called.
God’s purpose will be fulfilled regardless of who He uses, but I would hate to think what would have happened if any one of these aforementioned important “tools” of God had not used that waiting time for what it was—a time to prepare. Would they have been ready for God’s purpose in their lives, or would God been made to choose others to take their place? Are you waiting on God, or are you going full speed ahead at your own will? If you are waiting, are you taking this time of waiting to prepare for what God has planned for you? Show your faith and trust in God by waiting on Him, even if it involves suffering. (See Ps. 25:1-5, 27:14, 130:5; Prv. 20:22; Is. 30:18, 40:31; Lam. 3:25-26; Mic. 7:7; Hab. 2:3; Gal. 5:5; Heb. 6:12; Jms. 5:7).
I know that I want to fulfill all of my God-given destiny no matter the cost, but I also know that I cannot do it in my own time or in my own power. I must wait and rely on God—He is forever faithful.