I hate waiting.
So says Inigo Montoya in the well-known movie The Princess Bride, and I have to say, I agree with him. He is, of course, waiting for the man in black to finish climbing the mountain so he can sword fight him. My life isn’t nearly that thrilling. The most exciting thing for which I’m waiting right now is the publication of my first novel. I’m learning that a lot of writing involves waiting- waiting to hear whether or not they like my manuscript when I send it in, waiting to receive an edited copy, waiting for a second edited copy, interior design, proofreading… You get the picture. There are a lot of steps, and the whole process takes more than a year from start to finish. While I’m in the middle of the process, that seems like an awfully long time. But all things considered, that’s not a terrible wait time. And I need to remind myself that it’s actually good that it takes as long as it does. I don’t want to rush through the steps of editing and proofreading only to end up with a sloppy end product. Even though I may wish it was a shorter process, in the end, it’s totally worth the wait.
So what is it you’re waiting for? A promotion at work? A package to arrive? The kids to be out of diapers? Test results from a biopsy? Chemo to end? Some of these things are weightier than others, and there are times when you may even feel like God has forgotten you as you wait and wait for Him to answer your prayers. If you’ve ever wrestled with questions of doubt, take heart. You aren’t alone. People in the Bible wrestled with similar questions- Job, David, and the psalmist Asaph, to name a few. In Psalm 77, Asaph struggles with despair. The first nine verses are plaintive as he cries out to God. “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” (Psalm 77:7-9) This is serious stuff. I’m not sure what exactly he was going through, but it had to be pretty bad. Have you been there? Wondering if God even cared anymore? Wondering if He really was good and gracious after all? Waiting for an answer to prayer that you fear may never come?
But now comes a turning point in the psalm. “Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.” (Psalm 77:10-11) Asaph decides that even if God isn’t gracious and compassionate to him at that exact moment, he will recall His deeds to His people of old. He can rest secure, knowing how God has proven Himself in the past. God led His people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, leading them “like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” (Verse 20) Now, you want to talk about waiting? The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt for 400 years. Generations of them died without seeing God’s promise fulfilled. But when God did intervene, it was with decisive power. This wasn’t some slave revolt where the underdogs surprise everyone to win the day. No, God showed His might by the plagues on Egypt, and for added effect, He led the entire band of Israelites through the Red Sea on dry land before drowning the entire Egyptian army in the waters. That’s how powerful our God is.
Right now we are entering the season of Advent as we wait for Christmas. But it’s so much more than that. We aren’t just waiting for another holiday. It’s no accident that the church year begins where it ends- with waiting. We wait for Jesus’ second Advent, when He will return with glory to judge the earth. And as we wait, we can remind ourselves of what God has done in the past. He’s never let His people down. After centuries and centuries of waiting, at long last the Messiah was born in the little town of Bethlehem. God fulfilled His promise and sent a Savior to our fallen race. And Jesus lived a perfect life in our place and took our punishment for us. He died for us, and He rose for us, assuring us that our future in heaven is secure.
And that’s a promise that’s totally worth the wait.