Oh, the incredible task of learning how to be patient, of learning lessons of waiting, patience, endurance, and perseverance. I’ve never been good at those amazing characteristics.
As a young girl, I remember that waiting for Christmas or going to grandma’s house or a Friday night sleepover was tough stuff. I remember counting the days, packing my bag way too soon and thinking about it way too much.
There is waiting for good things. Waiting for something or someone or someplace that you know will be loads of fun, full of memories and exactly what you were hoping for. That childlike wait, a wait that just knows everything will be good.
Then, as a teen, I remember waiting for Y2K. That was a different kind of waiting, a waiting for bad things, unknown things.
I was a senior in high school and the whole world was waiting for systems, processes, and programs to horribly crash as soon as the clock struck midnight. Regardless of what happened, we all just knew it was going to be catastrophic and epic. The media was hyped up, businesses were gearing up, people were preparing and stockpiling, pastors were predicting… life was almost on hold as everyone held their breath for midnight, December 31, 1999.
There are other such moments. Waiting for a hurricane to hit or the latest snowpocolypse to shut down your city. Even worse, waiting for cancer to take someone you love, for dementia to fully steal your parent, for a phone call with bad news, for honestly… the next awful thing. This year, we are waiting out a pandemic that has hit our world.
I’ve learned a lot about waiting in this missions process.
I’ve learned a lot about how to be patient.
I’ve had to learn about trust and patience and endurance and perseverance. I’m learning them at deeper levels than I’ve been before, knowing there are deeper levels to come.
I’ve learned to wait for happy moments. The moment we were commissioned. The moment we finally hit 100% budget. The moment we flew to France. The moment I could understand a French conversation. The moment my husband landed in Senegal after 25 years of waiting and preparing to go.
I’ve also realized that there is a lot of waiting for the unknown, waiting for uncomfortable conversations, waiting for the process to work itself out, waiting for another move, waiting for another transition, waiting for more change, for more goodbyes. Waiting through suffering. Waiting through discomfort.
Somehow, in the midst of waiting, learning endurance and patience. Persevering in the face of it all.
Where we live, there is always a sense that we are waiting for terror attacks or water cuts or sickness or the humidity of rainy season. There is this waiting for something… we just don’t always know what.
As the Church, the state of the world brings us to a very real acknowledgement that the end times are coming. We are seeing the signs of prophecy unfold. We are in the last days… yet, we wait. We are waiting for the Great Commission to be fulfilled, waiting for the whole world to hear, waiting for everything to be accomplished so our Mighty King can return. Yet, we wait for God to have His say in the matter, the timing, the process.
Life is full of waiting. Waiting for the good and the bad.
It’s a theme that has been following me. I can’t get away from the waiting.
I can’t get away from the strong sense to wait. A desire to wait well, to be patient, and to endure with perseverance.
What am I learning?
1} We don’t always get a say or have to do anything about the situation we are in. In our culture today, a culture with a million ways to toss our thoughts into the open world, we still don’t always get a say. We don’t always get a say in how things happen, how things play out or what comes next. We don’t always have to say or do anything. Sometimes, we just have to wait.
I see this pattern of waiting through scripture as Naomi tells Ruth, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out.” Then, in Exodus 14, the Lord tells the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Again, in Amos 5, it says, “Therefore, the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.”
“The mere whisper of the Holy Spirit can drown out the thundering noise of the entire world.” David Jeremiah
“The unspoken expectations we have of God only come to light when He graciously ignores them.” Barbara Bancroft
2} We must persevere. We can’t stop in fear. We must keep living and working and being about His business. We must be deliberate and persevere. All while we wait.
“And now, continue in him so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” 1 John 2:28
“He has shown you, O Mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
“We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.” Francis Chan
“The path to intimacy with God may be long and complicated.” Debbie Blue
3} We must remember who fights for us. Who is in charge? Who is in control of the situation? Is our focus on what we want to fight for or what God is doing?
“My shield is God Most High who saves the upright in heart.” Psalm 7:10
“Sometimes I need to focus on the battle God wants to win in me more than the battle I want him to win for me.” Steven Furtick
“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself is the Rock Eternal.” Isaiah 26:4
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power.” Ephesians 6:10
4} We must remember that God is working even when we don’t see it.
“Life has a way of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.” Paula Coelho
“Perhaps it takes a God with all the time in the world… to trust the long view, God must be very patient.” Debbie Blue
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7
“Our humanity creates a weakness that only faith can overcome… Faith believes he can work in us at the same time he is working through us.” Barbara Bancroft
5} We can’t let ourselves get angry or stuck in the waiting.
Jonah. Just think about poor Jonah. In chapter 4, it says, “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong and he became angry.” And shortly after God says, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
“As we follow, his Spirit teaches us what we must leave behind for the sake of the gospel and frees us to let go of it.” Barbara Bancroft
“This is what the Lord Almighty says, “Give careful thought to your ways.” Haggai 1:7
6} We must not give up. We can’t let ourselves be discouraged or overcome in the waiting.
“My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
7} We must remember what He has already done. Look back over your life and see all He has done.
“Lord, I have heard of your fame, I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2
“The Lord within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail.” Zephaniah 3:5
8} We must remember His promises.
“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:21-26
9} We must pray. We can not forget to simply pray while we wait.
“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 1:20-21
10} We must remember that there is a holy call to patient endurance in these last days. We are specifically told 3 times in the book of Revelation to patiently endure.
The first time, we are told by the example of John. He says at the very beginning of the book, “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
The second time is after the beast comes out of the sea. Revelations 13:10 says, “This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”
The third time comes again in the next chapter, “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.”
We are called to walk these last days, these end times with a patient endurance. We are called to faithfulness. To waiting well. To being good stewards of our time, to following His commands, to letting God do His thing and fight the battle for us.
We are called to wait with patient endurance and called to persevere.
Because in the end, every single knee will bow, every nation will see.
But until that time, we are called to patient endurance.
We wait for God to have His say in the matter, the timing, the process.
How are you learning to wait? What are you feeling about this call to patient endurance? What are you learning in the waiting?