As an animal lover, one of my favorite YouTube videos gives the viewer a glimpse into the life of a woman and her two dogs. She has just gone through the Drive Thru at McDonalds, having purchased an ice cream cone for her two dogs, Daisy and Cooper (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHvExOg4NI0). She offers the cone to Daisy first, while Cooper looks on with hungry eyes. The woman continues to let Daisy lick the cone while keeping Cooper at bay. At this point in the video, it is easy for the viewer to think the woman is being unfair and unkind. Daisy is calmly and happily taking lick after lick of the ice cream, which is just out of Cooper’s reach. But it is truly a “wait for it” moment. Eventually, she asks Cooper why Daisy gets to have the ice cream first. Then she offers the ice cream cone to Cooper, and it is gone in one quick gulp. And now, the waiting over, the viewer understands and appreciates the owner’s actions.
We live in a culture of instant gratification. We don’t like to wait. But if we don’t learn to wait, we will miss the satisfaction that mere gratification can’t match. It is worth waiting for the punch line at the end of a great joke. It is worth waiting for a gourmet meal at a nice restaurant. And it is worth waiting for God to work in our lives.
The Apostle John records the very powerful account of the raising of Lazarus. Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, send a message to Jesus telling Him of Lazarus’s sickness. Their message implies a plea for help. They send the message, and wait. As they wait, Lazarus dies, and the waiting becomes hopelessness. But Jesus does come, and when He raises Lazarus, the wait takes on an entirely different emotional flavor.
Waiting is uncomfortable. Waiting requires us to sit with our unmet needs and desires. And while it is appropriate for us to take responsibility for our needs and desires and work toward meeting them, the most significant of these are often beyond our ability to fulfill, and we find ourselves waiting on God. One of my “takeaways” from a Beth Moore Bible study several years ago was the observation that “God is never late, but He often neglects the opportunity to be early.”
Waiting is hard work, but it is, in fact, the work of faith. The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Waiting is more than an exercise in patience; it is an opportunity to exercise faith. Although God, in His sovereign and loving wisdom, may not grant us what we think we want and need, we can rest our heart and minds upon the truths that God gives only good gifts and that He will work even the most difficult of our circumstances for our good and His glory. Waiting becomes an invitation to take our eyes off ourselves and fix them on our Lord, the author and perfecter of our faith. And while uncomfortable, that is indeed a very good place to be.