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The Worth of Waiting

by Mark L. Bailey on July 7, 2006 in Articles

I am writing this as I am waiting to be released from Baylor Hospital, where I have been undergoing some tests for the last few days. I am okay, but I think I now know why people who go to doctors or dentists are called “patients.” I am sure God wants to lengthen my “patience quotient” as I wait for the paperwork to be finished, for someone to transport me to the curb, and for someone else to take me away. As good and competent as the staff has been, I think you will appreciate the sentiment when I say, “I’m out of here!” Too many needles, too many tests , too many days, too much of that famous hospital cuisine.

Also “Hurry Up and Wait” seems to be the theme song of places like hospitals, campus registration lines, and even fast-food drive-thrus. Yet greater than my need to wait patiently for help from the personal service industries is the need to develop the ability to obey the command of our loving Lord to wait for Him. God has asked us throughout His Word to wait for such things as His salvation (Lam 3:26) and His judgments (Zeph 3:8). The primary emphasis in the New Testament is how we are to wait for the return of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ (Rom 8:23–25). At His coming will be both the just reward of the righteous as well as the righteous judgment of the wicked.

One of the great mysteries of the Scriptures is God’s desire for us to live within the tension of waiting with eagerness (1 Cor 1:7) and waiting patiently. Eagerness is the longing for God to act soon, and patience is the ability to endure such a longing for a long, long time. Eagerness is appropriate because of the relationship we have with Him; patience is necessary because of the strength of character He desires to develop in us before our union with Him. The psalmist wrote, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (Ps. 27:14), and “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (37:7). Other descriptions of the way we are to wait on the Lord include waiting in hope, quietness, stillness, all the while holding to His word. These are the marks of a faithful person. How sympathetically refreshing is the assurance of Isaiah 40:30–31. For those who are tired and weary or for those who have stumbled lately, there is the strong news of new strength—the news of renewal:

“Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary” (NASB).

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