We have an obsession with speed. We like fast cars, fast internet, fast horses, fast athletes, fast food, and fast passes at amusement parks. We HATE to wait.
We hate long lines in the grocery store, and long waits at the DMV and doctor’s office. We hate to wait for test results and for our children to outgrow whatever phase they’re in. We hate having to wait for being old enough to get our driver’s license, move out of the house, or get married.
This is why we struggle with the phrase, “Wait on the Lord.” We want God to operate on our time table. We might wait if we have to, but we are certainly not going to wait patiently.
Some years ago, I decided to do a study of the phrase, “Wait on the Lord.” I wanted to know what it meant, how to do it, the reasons why, and the results of waiting. What I discovered surprised me and changed my approach.
What does it mean to Wait on the Lord? Several words are used in the Old Testament to express the concept of waiting. They include “look patiently,” “tarry or wait,” “hope, expect, look eagerly,” “wait expectantly,” and “long for.” The Old Testament emphasis is clearly on the daily walk and the need to wait on the Lord and his providential care in the pressures of life.
How do we Wait on the Lord? Waiting obviously involves the passage of time. Psalm 130:6 compares waiting for God like a watchman waits for dawn. Waiting also involves a sense of anticipation and expecting God to work. Psalm 130:5 adds the word hope to the concept of waiting. We wait for God to show up and do his work like we wait for someone to arrive at an airport. In addition, waiting also means being confident of what God is going to do. Psalm 52 was written while David was on the run from those who wanted to persecute him. In verses 8-9, he expressed a confident hope and trust that God had already answered and solved the problem. While we wait, we are to seek God (Lamentations 3:25). In addition, we are to rest patiently and not give in to worry (Psalm 37:7-8).
G. Campbell Morgan stated, “Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.
Why should we Wait on the Lord? The psalmist gives two concrete reasons to motivate us to wait for God to work. The first is the fact that God is true to his character. In Psalm 52:8-9, the psalmist says “I will wait for your name.” Since God’s name always reveals his character, he means we rely on the promise that God is faithful to who he is. In addition, Psalm 62:5-6 reminds us that God is the source of our security.
What happens when we Wait on the Lord? There are at least three tangible results that come to us when we wait for God to work. God provides and meets our needs (Psalm 145:14-16). God gives refreshment and renewal (Isaiah 40:31). We can rest knowing that it is worth it. We will never be ashamed for having waited for God (Psalm 25:3).
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)