Following Jesus

Wait Patiently

July 8, 2020 by

Sometimes, following God’s will means waiting. Waiting for answers, waiting for the next step, waiting for anything. Waiting can be hard. It feels too much like sitting back and doing nothing. Sometimes, though, sitting back and letting God work is exactly what needs to happen.

As a people, we’ve learned what it’s like to wait. For months now we’ve been stuck at home, our lives put on hold, our world thrown off balance. Thousands of us have waited in hospital rooms or in isolation, connected to those we love only through technology, and shakily at that.

Now that it seems like the world might be moving through this time of lockdown, everyone is looking for answers to the same questions: What might God be showing us through this? What might God be asking us to do? We’re not the first to have come through times such as these, though, and perhaps we could learn something from those who have been here before.

monarch butterfly

The Hebrew prophets knew all about waiting. Proclaiming truths that were far off and informing people of things that were maybe – or maybe not – going to happen must not have been a very gratifying profession. They hardly ever saw results, and when they did, the results were often pretty nasty. In between they had to wait, and sometimes while they were waiting God asked them to do very strange things – as in Isaiah 20:2-3, for instance.

Of all the prophets, though, I think Habakkuk could teach us a great deal about what it means to wait. We don’t know much about who he was, but he’s given us some beautiful, beautiful words about waiting well. In the first chapter of his book he shouts his angry complaint against God – to him, it seems as though God is turning a blind eye to the suffering of his people. He wonders how long he has to look up to the sky and cry “Violence!” before God pays any attention.

God’s answer to him is that he should simply wait, and that if he waits, everything will turn out in the end (Habakkuk 2:2-3):

And the LORD answered me:
Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end – it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.

See, sometimes waiting can be the right thing to do. Sometimes, if we wait, God can work. Our waiting need not be passive, though – as Habakkuk says, the one who reads his vision will not be sitting down, but will run.

Habakkuk saw suffering and wanted God to do something about it. God told him to wait, so that He could act. The same could be said for us. We see suffering. We want to get busy and do something about it, and we want God to jump in and fix everything right here, right now. But maybe, right now, there is a blessing in waiting.

Timothy Keiderling and his wife, Susannah, are members of the Bruderhof. Timothy is currently a student at Princeton Seminary, where he’s busy trying to apply the Bible to everyday life.


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