Death and taxes have a long lost brother--waiting. After all waiting seems just as certain for us humans as our own funerals and April 15th.
Waiting is inevitable.
Waiting is hard.
And yet, I believe, waiting is for our joy.
Much of the Christian life is waiting. This shouldn't be surprising to us, but it often is. Think about it. From Genesis to the Gospels, God's people are waiting. They are waiting on God. They were instructed by him to wait on him (Hosea 12:6). In the midst of dispensing consequences to the first couple for their sinful rebellion, God promised to send a final blow to evil through the woman's offspring (Genesis 3:15). But then God’s people waited ... for a long time. It wasn’t until the arrival of Jesus, the Son of Mary when God ultimately fulfills this promised word (Matthew 1:18-25). To be sure God was faithful to his people (despite their faithlessness) in the meantime, but the faithfulness of God takes on flesh in the birth of Jesus. The waiting was over. At least in one sense.
Waiting is still a primary call of the people of God. Perhaps we are waiting on God’s specific will to become more clear. Perhaps we are called to wait on our health to improve. Perhaps we're waiting to grow in maturity and holiness. Maybe you're called to wait on children, a new job, deeper community, or marriage. And no matter the particulars of our waiting we are all called to wait on the Lord for his return to this world, when he will set all things to rights (Revelation 21:1-8).
In our various forms of waiting, the arrival and triumph of Jesus—Jesus himself—is meant to be our hope and promise and joy. Jesus is the greatest reminder to us while we wait that God always delivers to those who wait on him.
I don’t think it is too much to say, waiting is what it means to be a Christian. Therefore why are we so surprised when God invites us into a moment or season or lifetime of waiting? Well, we don’t like waiting. Waiting is hard. Waiting reminds us we are not in control, we don’t know what’s best, and we are not God. But think about it. Those are all very good lessons for us to learn. I wonder, if that’s what waiting is all about—become more familiar with our powerlessness ... ignorance ... and humanity. And in learning those things we are invited to trust the power of God more (1 Corinthians 2:5), seek the wisdom of God more (Matthew 6:33), and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God more (1 Peter 5:6). In such a view, waiting becomes a great evidence and canvas of God’s grace and our joy in our lives. God is always at work in our waiting.
Waiting reveals one of the most beautiful paradoxes of following Jesus. Generally speaking growing in maturity is about increasing independence. We train up leaders and children and drivers to be less and less dependent. However the kingdom is much different. It’s actually the opposite. Growing up in Jesus is about increasing our awareness of our utter dependency on God. Maturity in Christ is evidenced by our awareness of our dependency on Jesus in all things—in other words we find joy in waiting on him.
Waiting is inevitable because it is part of God’s design for the Christian life.
Waiting is hard because it chips away at self-dependency and independence.
But waiting is for our joy because in our waiting God makes us what instant gratification cannot.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.