By Chris Bolinger, Crosswalk.com
These days, it’s tough for us to wait long for anything. We expect instant information on our phones and instant gratification in almost every aspect of life.
We may have taken impatience to a new level, but being patient was tough even in Biblical times.
But rest assured, there is blessing in your waiting, when you entrust it to God.
Strong men like you have also waited in confusion and agony. To inspire your faith and patience, here are true stories of four men who waited for God—sometimes for a long time.
In many of his psalms, David cries out to God with complaints that God has not come through for him and seems distant or even silent.
“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!” (Psalm 4:1).
“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1).
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
David’s pattern in most of the “complaint psalms” is to follow the complaints with reminders of how God always comes through for him.
In Psalm 27, however, David simply makes one confident statement:
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” (Psalm 27:13)
He then adds, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
When God seems distant, we need to follow David’s pattern: call out to God, remind ourselves of God’s help in the past, and exhort ourselves to be strong in God.
The result will be reassurance and confidence that enable us to be patient…even when we don’t want to.
God came to Abraham – then called Abram – and made him a promise: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2)
There was just one problem: Abram had no children. Well, actually, it was worse than that:
- Abram was 75 years old.
- His wife Sarah – then called Sarai – was 65 years old.
- The couple had been trying for decades to have a child.
- Even if Sarai was not past her childbearing years, it was clear that she was barren, or incapable of having a child.
In spite of these facts, Abram believed God. So he followed God’s directive to leave his homeland of Haran and travel to the land of Canaan, which God promised to give to his descendants.
Then Abram waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled.
When Abram was 85, God repeated his promise, saying, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Abram responded that he still had no child and that his heir was a member of his household, Eliezer of Damascus. “Your very own son shall be your heir,” God reassured Abram.
Then, God added: “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be.”
Abram believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness. (See Genesis 15.)
Soon after that, Sarai convinced Abram that, because she was barren, he should have a child through her servant Hagar. He listened and Hagar bore a son, Ishmael. When Abram was 99, however, God announced that his new name was Abraham and that the chosen son was not Ishmael but Isaac, whom Sarah would bear in the next year.
Abraham had waited 24 years for Sarah to bear the son whom God had promised. So Abraham couldn’t help himself. He laughed at the news. And when it was repeated where Sarah could hear it, she laughed, too.
God knew they would laugh. That’s why God said that their son should be named Isaac, which means “laughter.”
Sometimes God promises the impossible. He knows that we will find it difficult to believe and trust that he will deliver. When Sarah laughed, God responded, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).
The word translated as “hard” also may be translated as “wonderful.”
Is anything too wonderful for God? He keeps His promises. Even the impossible ones.
People often mention “the patience of Job”, but Joseph was the poster child of patience.
When he was 17, his brothers sold him as a slave. Taken to Egypt, Joseph ended up serving Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. Recognizing that God was with Joseph, Potiphar made Joseph the overseer of his house.
But Joseph still was a slave.
Potiphar’s wife decided that she wanted Joseph. When he resisted all of her advances, she framed him for attempted rape, and Potiphar threw Joseph in prison. God helped Joseph gain favor with the keeper of the prison, who put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners.
But Joseph still was in prison.
Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker end up in prison. Both had dreams, which God enabled Joseph to interpret. Knowing that the cupbearer would be reinstated, Joseph asked the cupbearer to tell Pharaoh about Joseph.
But the cupbearer forgot about Joseph, and Joseph remained in prison.
Two years later, when Pharaoh had dreams that no one could interpret, the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, Pharaoh made Joseph second in command in Egypt.
Joseph spent 13 years as a slave and a prisoner. Thirteen years! But those years were necessary for God’s plan:
- The betrayal of Joseph’s brothers brought Joseph to Egypt.
- The false accusation by Potiphar’s wife put Joseph in Pharaoh’s prison.
- Interpreting the cupbearer’s dream gave Joseph an ally in Pharaoh’s court.
- Interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams about a coming famine put Joseph in a position where God could use him to save thousands of people, including Joseph’s family—God’s chosen people—from starvation.
When you wait patiently, God will come through, not just for you but also for others.
Unless you are serving in the military, you probably will not be going to war anytime soon, right? Wrong. You already are at war.
You’re fighting a battle against your enemies every day. And God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies.
Nearly 600 years before the birth of Jesus, the Chaldeans conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and forced 10,000 of the best and brightest young Jews to relocate to Babylon, the capital of the Chaldean empire.
One of those young Jews was Daniel. He, like his fellow captured Jews, spent the rest of his life in Babylon. But he remained faithful to God his entire life, even when his faith did not change his circumstances.
Chapter 10 of the Book of Daniel records a time when Daniel had a troubling vision. It was so troubling that Daniel prayed to God for understanding and began to mourn, refusing to anoint himself, eat meat or other choice food, or drink wine. For three weeks, Daniel heard nothing from God.
Then, an angel appeared and explained the vision. What took so long? According to the angel, God dispatched him as soon as Daniel prayed, but the angel was ambushed by a “prince of the kingdom of Persia” (Daniel 10:13).
That prince, or demon, was so strong and the battle was so fierce that, after three weeks, the angel and the demon were still deadlocked. The archangel Michael had to join the fray and battle the demon so that the angel could go and meet with Daniel.
When we pray, God hears us, and God responds, often immediately. But our requests are coming from the front lines of a fierce war that has been raging since the dawn of time, and our enemies are doing everything they can to prevent God’s response from getting through.
God and his angel armies are with us and fighting for us against our enemies.
Sometimes, when God seems silent, it’s because his troops have their hands full.
Hang in there.
This article contains excerpts from Daily Strength for Men, a 365-day daily devotional written by Chris Bolinger, published by BroadStreet Publishing, and available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, DailyStrengthForMen.com, and other retailers.
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