If surrender is the topic I refer to most often, waiting is probably next on the list of ‘most mentioned subjects’!! That’s because I’ve had to spend a lot of time waiting. I know a lot about this subject!

I don’t drive, so I dread to think how many hours I’ve spent waiting for buses, trains or (continuing the transport idea) aeroplanes. I’m the kind of person who likes to arrive early for every appointment, because I hate being late, so again, that’s a lot of (often unnecessary) waiting added to the list. As a parent, I’ve done my share of waiting for my son (at piano lessons, swimming lessons, sleepovers and the like.) I’ve had to wait for hospital appointments. I have an awful lot of experience in waiting.

I used to think waiting was a waste of time. And I hated the idea of wasting time. I would spend the time waiting thinking of all I could be doing instead and fuming. There’s nothing like being late for work because a bus doesn’t turn up when it’s not your fault and you’re freezing cold and miserable for making waiting seem utterly disconsolate and wretched.

But then I discovered that the Hebrew word for ‘waiting’ (‘qavah’) could also be translated as ‘hoping’ and was connected to the slow and patient task of rope-making, and my understanding of waiting began to change. I meditated on Scriptures like Psalm 130, Isaiah 40:31 TNIV, Romans 8:24-25 TNIV, and came to see that God wasn’t in half as much of a hurry as I was! I also decided that ‘hoping’ didn’t have the same negative connotations for me that ‘waiting’ had and therefore I could learn to ‘hope’ while I was waiting.

I learned that waiting was essential to the development of character and that God is ‘working in the waiting, sanctifying us’ (‘Sovereign Over Us’, Aaron Keyes). I learned that waiting is not passive stoicism or misery personified, but is a means of displaying active trust in God.

John Waller’s song ‘While I’m Waiting’ was important in helping me to see that waiting isn’t a waste of time, for there I learned that there were things I could do while I was waiting:
‘I’m waiting on You, Lord,
And I am hopeful.
I’m waiting on You, Lord,
Though it is painful,
But patiently I will wait.

I will move ahead, bold and confident,
Taking every step in obedience.

While I’m waiting,
I will serve You,
While I’m waiting,
I will worship
While I’m waiting,
I will not faint,
I’ll be running the race,
Even while I wait.’ (‘While I’m Waiting’, John Waller)

‘While I’m Waiting’, John Waller

All God’s people have had to learn to wait. Noah had to wait for the flood. Abraham had to wait for a son. Moses had to wait in Egypt before he could see Israel delivered. David had to wait from being anointed king to actually being crowned king. Daniel and Ezekiel had to wait in exile. Mary had to wait for her son to be born. Jesus had to wait thirty years before beginning His ministry. Waiting is inevitable, but it’s important we understand it’s not a waste of time. It’s all part of God’s plan, for His timescales are not the same as ours.