We are all waiters of one sort or another. WAIT is a word we don’t much appreciate in our era of instant gratification, but there are different kinds of waiting.
Waiting in line (traffic, ATM, in a waiting room )
Focus: accomplishing a goal
Activity: just pass the time reading, chatting, listening to music, etc.
Waiting for an anticipated event (Christmas, birth of baby, Christ’s return)
Focus: desired future event
On the other hand, there is also waiting in dread, as for the results of a biopsy.
Focus: anticipated bad news
Mood: dread, sometimes denial
Activity: sometimes paralysis
Waiting on someone (at a restaurant, being a “lady in waiting” to royalty, waiting on God)
Focus: the one being served
Mood: devoted attention
Activity: anticipating & complying with the desires of the one being served
…my time is not my own.
…not needing what I want when I want it.
…trusting that God will work out what’s best in His time—for me and for the whole world.
…letting go of my own preferences and focusing on God and others.
But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength.
They will fly high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
What should one do when disaster strikes? When one’s own nation is sinking and enemies are about to invade, when total crop failure are imminent and the financial system collapses? No, this is not about the present day (though it very much applies!). It’s about the situation in the Jewish nation of Judea 2600 years ago, shortly before it was overthrown by Babylon. Habakkuk, God’s prophet, complained first about the corruption in his own nation and then about the drastic measures (foreign invasion) God was going to use to address it.
At the end of this short book of the Old Testament, Habakkuk acknowledges God’s power and wisdom, and he prays a beautiful prayer. I want to adopt for myself his threefold response to impending disaster:
1) Wait patiently for God to set things right.
2) Rejoice in the Lord.
3) Find my strength in God no matter what the circumstances.
(Notice how God is the focus in all of these!)
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights. (Habakkuk 3:16b-19)
So the world didn’t end on December 21. Does that mean it never will? What has anyone learned from this false alarm?
I remember when when my little sister and I were kids, excited about the arrival of our cousins from several states away. In the morning we took up our vigil, sitting beside the road on a piece of an old tire. But it was midnight before they arrived, and of course we’d given up our post long before that. The visit that followed was great fun, and soon we forgot about the frustration of waiting.
We watch for our Lord’s return. He told us to! We can be sure He will come, though it might not be as soon as we wish.
In the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.* But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (excerpted from 1 Peter 3:3-14 NLT)