Waiting On God Is Not Easy
Waiting on God is not easy for most people, especially when you are waiting for God to deliver you or help you in difficult circumstances. There are times in our life when God does not respond immediately to our prayers, or to our cries for help. It may seem that God is not aware of your difficulties or that He is not going to respond. These times can be confusing, and it may even seem like God is far away or just plain not listening.
Fortunately we have some insight and guidance in God’s word to help us during the difficult times we have when we need to wait on God. There are some examples in the Bible of other people’s struggles with God not responding immediately to their prayers, and having to wait on Him for deliverance or help. In this article we will look at some of these examples:
The story of Lazarus (John 11)
- “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” – John 11:1-6
- It says Jesus loved them, but he did not go immediately to help Lazarus
- In fact Jesus waited until Lazarus died, and then he went to them
- They must have thought “why would you wait, if you loved us ?”. Imagine your thoughts and feelings if you were in that situation
- Your feelings & emotions and thoughts would not have been the truth about the situation, or about what Jesus was doing
- Here was Mary’s reaction: “Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled. – John 11:32-33
- Jesus’ reaction to Mary’s words shows how much He cares for them (and for us)
- Jesus had something different in mind for this situation than Martha and Mary did. They thought he would come immediately and heal Lazarus
- Instead Jesus waited until Lazarus died, and then raised him from the dead
- The result was that God and Jesus were glorified, and ultimately many people believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah… “Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.” – John 11:45
God is God, and we are not. God does not do things the way we would do them. He even tells us this in His word: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts”. – Isaiah 55:8-9
Even though waiting on God is difficult, we need to learn to trust God, especially in difficult circumstances when we do not understand at all what He is doing. Or when He appears to not care about us, or when it appears like He is not listening to our prayers or is going to answer. Going through these circumstances helps to strengthen our faith in the Lord.
Here are some other examples in the Bible of people who went through the experience of waiting on God. In some cases they needed to wait many years before God responded to their prayers or cries for help, or for something that God had promised.
- Job – Job suffered more than most people would ever have to suffer in their life. For a long time God never answered Job’s prayers, and it left him feeling sorry for himself and very confused. Yet he never walked away from God.
- “Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense-let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing.” – Job 31:35
- Finally God did answer Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? “Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me! “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know…” (Job 38:1 to Job 40:1 and Job 40:6 to Job 41:34)
- Job was humbled by the suffering and by God’s rebuke. In the end Job knew God more intimately by experiencing Him, and said this: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:5-6
- In the end God restored everything Job lost two-fold, and Job has a deeper and more intimate knowledge and intimate fellowship with God. (Job 42:10-17)
- Joseph is another good example of someone going through years of difficult circumstances before God rescued him. Joseph went through13 years of trials, suffering, and injustice. And that was after he was almost killed by his brothers and then sold into slavery by them.
- But Joseph stayed faithful to God, despite having to wait a long time for God to deliver him.
- God used the 13 years to mold and shape Joseph into the servant He could use greatly.
- Ultimately Joseph was released from prison and made 2nd in command of all of Egypt, and God used him to preserve the lives of Joseph’s family and the lives of His people Israel.
- David went through 17 years of trials and fleeing for his life from Saul and his enemies. He had to wait 17 years from the time he was promised to be made king of Israel until the time he actually became the king.
- In Psalm 13 David expressed his struggle of having to wait on God for His deliverance and help: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him, and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” – Psalm 13:1-4
- Abraham had to wait 25 years until God fulfilled His promise of a son. His son Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old.
- Moses had to wait 40 years in the wilderness until God called him to deliver His people from Egypt. Moses probably thought that he had blown it years earlier when he killed an Egyptian for beating one of his fellow Israelites, and perhaps he thought that he would spend the rest of his life in the wilderness.
- Imagine spending 40 years living in a wilderness after making a bad mistake. Most of us would think that God was done with us.
In 1995 I prayed that God would allow me to serve Him full time. I had a strong desire to join God in His kingdom work, and prayed that He would use my wife Nancy and I. And you know what happened ? Nothing.
I continued to run my business, serve in our church, and kept seeking Him and working on my fellowship with Him. Then 9 years later, early in 2004, God began to speak into my heart that some day I would sell my business and use our own resources to serve Him. It took another year and a half and a lot of prayer and time seeking God to discover what God’s plan and vision was.
In June 2005 our oldest son John and I went on a mission trip with our church to Sao Paulo Brazil, and on that trip God spoke very clearly and strongly in my heart that we would serve Him as missionaries in Brazil. It took another 15 months to prepare for the move… sell the business, get our permanent residence visa for Brazil, sell our house… Our church in Marietta Georgia had a Brazilian church also, and God provided Portuguese classes for us for 9 months during this preparation time through a woman in the Brazilian church. God also gave me a very clear vision of what He wanted us to do in our mission ministry during this preparation time.
In Part 2 of this series of articles on Waiting on God, we will look at the various reasons why we need to wait on God.
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