Category Archives: Waiting

Choosing how to wait

We are often tested and find ourselves unexpectedly waiting for something which is delayed. The way you wait affects the way you pray: and vice versa! “In the morning I will order my prayer to you and eagerly watch.” (Psalm 5 v3, NASB)

Terry and I thought we would have sold our house and moved to Kingston long ago! We put it on the market in February, and I thought, somewhat naively, that we would be settled by Easter. After all, God had spoken to us! He knew our busy schedule, the dates when it would be most convenient to pack up and go; that we had ‘Together on a Mission’ to think about, family coming and going….

He certainly did; and I am grateful that he kept us in our house for the conference, it worked out just fine. But then surely everything would fall into place? Well, things began to happen, but there have been frustrations and complications.

What can you do? Watch and pray.

We have to face that we run into the same problems and delays and frustrations as anyone else in this uncertain world with its economic perils and disasters. Sometimes we just have to wait. But there are ways of waiting; we can fume and seethe with annoyance, we can wait angrily, we can try to manoeuvre things, we can be negative and gloomy: “This is never going to happen, or if it does, it will be the worst possible time…”

We can lie awake at night worrying; we can be tense and uptight, living on the edge of panic: “Suppose we got it wrong? What’s going to happen? How will we cope?” etc, etc.

For those with no hope in a merciful God who is a loving father who plans the best for us, waiting is fraught with fear, anxiety and tension. But our Father tells us, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”

It honours him when we wait in faith and hope. He is the one who gives peace which is not dependent on everything going our way. He is the prince of peace!

So we can choose how we wait. I rather like David’s way in Psalm 27v14, “Wait—(eagerly long for)–for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait—(confidently)– for the Lord.” I also identify with Jehoshaphat when he was in a tight spot, surrounded by hostile forces. He prayed, “Lord, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” The answer came back, “Stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chron 20). Good place to be!

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Ways of waiting

Psalm 130 is all about waiting eagerly, in hope; “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning”.

The word translated ‘wait’ here is ‘qawal’ and the root of it is ‘to long for’; the sense is to wait for something you know will happen. David says he is putting his trust in God’s word which He will not go back on. So David can confidently wait for God’s intervention.

There are several Hebrew and Greek words in Biblical texts which are all translated by the same English word ‘wait’.

(By the way, it is worth getting a good concordance which lists words alphabetically like a dictionary. Alongside each one is a number, and at the back of the book you will find the corresponding Hebrew or Greek word, its root meaning, and other usages.)

A slightly sinister word is ‘tsedah’, the root meaning of which is to do with hunting, and it is used when someone is lying in wait. Another, ‘arab’ has a similar meaning, used to describe someone lurking, waiting in ambush. There is a word, ‘shamar’ which carries in it a sense of waiting watchfully, cautiously, to see what will happen. ‘Yachal’ means to wait in hope, as does ‘shabar’. This is used in psalm 104 v27 “These all look to you to give them their food…”, a sense of creation waiting in dependence upon God to sustain and nurture it.

Then there is a word, ‘duwmam’, which has at its root to be dumb, in other words to wait silently, as in Lamentations 3 v26: “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Another very vivid one is ‘chakar’, which has in its roots the idea of adhering, sticking to, and is used in Habakkuk 2v3, “Though the vision lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come!” Isn’t that graphic imagery?

Don’t give up on the promises of God: stick to them like glue, they will be fulfilled!

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I don’t like waiting. If I have to wait 5 minutes for a bus, I’d rather walk. My mother was the same. She was energetic up to the day of her death, preferring to walk rapidly, even run everywhere in spite of her 84 years. So perhaps it’s in the genes.

But of course, waiting is part of life and cannot always be avoided. We have to wait for exam results, dental appointments, Christmas, a baby’s birth; and mostly, these things cannot be hurried. Some we wait for with dread, others with eager anticipation.

We can wait anxiously for the results of a blood test; resignedly for the notice of a speeding ticket to arrive; impatiently in the queue at Tesco; eagerly for your wedding day; with longing for a holiday in the warm Mediterranean sun…or grumpily for a wet camping holiday to be over!

So what does the Bible tell us about waiting? What different ways of waiting are there? And how should we wait?

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