One struggle every Christian can identify with is waiting on God. In a society that places high value on action, inactivity (Waiting) is frustrating and viewed by some as a character flaw. This is compounded when while waiting something deemed to be bad or evil transpires. The natural tendency is to think the negative event wouldn’t have happened IF the person had acted in a timely fashion rather than waste time waiting. Such is not the case with God.
Waiting does not mean inactivity. A waiter or waitress doesn’t just sit, they are busy serving their customers. Likewise the Christian who waits on God is not to just sit as they wait, there are many good things they can and should do. Waiting does not preclude praying, worshipping, serving others, or a host of things. While waiting on God it is good to be active in doing as much as possible to prepare yourself for when God does move and act in your life. As athletes are sometimes put on a bench to rest so as to go back into the game, likewise believers are sometimes put on the sideline of life to rest and be rejuvenated so that when the time comes they are ready to reenter the game. To rest and wait while benched, be busy working… preparing… and strengthening yourself because in God’s time you’ll renter the game.
Some attribute waiting with being lazy or inept, but this is not necessarily so. It may look like a mother hen sitting on a nest of eggs is being inactive, but she is providing a necessary function to sustain life to her chicks still in the egg. How much more so is this true for the one who waits on the all wise and sovereign God… the One who “works all things after the counsel of his will,”[ii] who does not withhold anything he deems good from his children?[iii]
God’s wise redeeming love is completely compatible with waiting, and while waiting evil things happening in your life. God’s loving wisdom can take decades before he reveals his good intents and purposes. God doesn’t work in terms of hours, weeks, or months as much as he works in terms of years, decades, centuries, and eternity. Consider Joseph’s life timeline as found in Genesis. He had to wait on God for years to fulfill a dream given to him when he was young, and while waiting for it to be fulfilled a number of seemingly bad things happened to him. Yet those who reflect deeply on Joseph’s life will know that unless each event happened as it did, when it did, the end result would not have resulted in many good things for two nations and Joseph’s family.
Joseph was 17 years old when his story begins in Genesis 32:7. His dysfunction and that of his family resulted in God acting to redeem him, his family, keep many people alive, and perpetuating the Messianic line so Christ would be born and all who believe would be saved.[iv] Joseph was attacked by his brothers who hated him and wanted to kill him. They sold him into slavery to Midianites… who sold him to Potipher in Egypt … who’s wife falsely accused him of rape. He was then thrown into prison and forgotten for two years by men who promised not to forget him so as to aid Joseph’s release. These events transpired over the course of 13 years.
Finally, when Joseph was 30 years old, he was elevated to second in power under Pharaoh in Egypt.[v] Then began 7 years of plenty as grain was stored up in preparation for 7 years of famine.[vi] At some point during the 7 years of famine, Joseph’s brothers came asking for grain. By that time Joseph was in his 40s, possibly around 44 years old when life started making sense to him! Now think about a few things…
It is difficult to find any direct mention of God in the narrative about Joseph and the events from Genesis 32:7 until Genesis 50:20. It isn’t recorded that God revealed to Joseph his purposes in all the evil that happened to him. For 13 years Joseph endured evil with the very real possibility of God’s silence from heaven. Joseph was 17 when his “troubles” began and there was not a resolution and restoration with his family until he was about 44 years old. God’s work of redemption and blessing took 27 years! For almost three decades Joseph was mistreated and suffered horribly. Yet he was faithful and trusted God through it all.
Consider if every event in Joseph’s life had not happened the way it did, at the time it did, the Messianic line would have ended and salvation would not have been possible. Likewise God is just as much at work in your life as a believer… and you may not be aware of it in the moment. However, you have the story of Joseph to understand what he did not know… namely, God IS at work in your life for his glory AND your good![vii]
You may be in year 1… 10… or 13 of God working his plan for your life. Keep on keeping on. Stay faithful to God. Honor him and he will honor you.[viii] Take God at his word. You won’t know until.. and IF… God chooses to reveal what he has been doing in and around you. That is why we live each day by faith.[ix] No matter what is happening to, in, and around you… no matter how difficult it may be… even if God does not seem to be doing anything… remember “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.”[x]