In a recent conversation, the idea being discussed centered on what it means to wait on God. One person in the group asked, “how do you know when to give up?” The other members of the group immediately looked at me. I asked, “why are you all looking at me?” Someone replied, “you are the pastor! You should have an answer.” The person scoffed when I said, “you never give up when you are waiting on God. It doesn’t matter if you are waiting on a promise, something you requested, something you need — whatever it is, if God says, wait — wait. It is important to trust God’s timing.”
That’s something I have experience with. During a season of unemployment, I knew God had promised me that I would return to work, that I was not to panic but to trust him. It was easy to trust God while I was receiving unemployment checks. But as the deadline for the checks to end neared, I tried not to panic but kept reminding God that bills were still due.
God provided — from expected and unexpected sources. One person who didn’t know me put money in my hand and said, “God told me to give this to you.” When I tried to explain, the person said I owed no explanation. “And please, do not send me a thank you note. Thank God. It is from him.” I waited until I got to my car to count the money. It was enough to cover my car payment, insurance, and gas for several weeks. And while I thanked God, I reminded God again: I need a job. After the unemployment checks ended and I still wasn’t working, I was always asking for prayer. God reminded me to stop asking and to wait.
One of my favorite verses of scripture is Psalm 27:14: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” However, that Scripture is what I quoted to other people who were waiting. My morning prayer turned into me asking God for courage to wait and to strengthen my heart to believe. When my belief in what God has promised me wanes, I often consider the father whose child was possessed by a spirit described in Mark 9. The truth is, sometimes I’m the father — “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” I don’t always know what it takes to believe God for what he has promised. Unbelief is easy; belief takes faith — and sometimes patience.
The beauty of waiting is not always evident. In the waiting, I am often consumed by thoughts about what happens if. What if God’s promise doesn’t come true? What will people think if I said God would do it and he doesn’t? What happens if? God has gently reminded me more than once that the onus for what he has promised is not on me. It is on him. God will do what he says — in his own time.
There is a beauty in waiting, but it is not shown while we wait. The beauty is revealed when you review what God has done in you while you were believing and waiting.
The father’s request — and Jesus’ promise — was healing for the boy. Even when it looked as if the boy was dead, the father continued to believe. Don’t stop believing if life was promised to a situation that appears dead. I wonder how the father felt in those moments when his son was on the ground, and some thought the boy was dead? I’m sure those moments felt like years. However, the good news is that the promise came to be: “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.” ( Mark 9:27)
As I was waiting and praying for the job, I talked to an employment counselor. The counselor said it would be at least four to six weeks before I would be working. I had been without an income for five weeks at that time. However, God’s timing is perfect. The job opportunity God had for me opened much sooner. I applied for the job during the third week of July and was working in the second week of August. Never give up on what God has promised you. Keep believing, keep the faith, keep trusting, and keep waiting. Wait on the Lord, and if you must, pray, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”