Some wise wag once said they call it golf because all of the other four-
letter words were already taken. Well, I can think of another four-
letter word I detest and the word is wait. I have a sneaking suspicion
that I am not alone. The undertone of my life is that I am in a hurry
and God is not.
What do people do when you keep them waiting? They count your faults. What do you do when God keeps you waiting? Our temptation is to murmur, complain and to question His judgment by passing judgment on Him. We, like the children of Israel of old, want to go back to Egypt for those scrumptious leeks, onions and garlic. We did not sign up for this.
To learn how to wait we need to go back and get our bearings by putting on the glasses of a biblical worldview. When we look at the ministry of Jesus we must do so through the categories of creation, fall, redemption and consummation. Creation is God’s glorious work of calling into being out of nothing a beautiful, good, glorious, well-ordered, harmonious universe. There was no disease, corruption, suffering, decay or death because there was no sin. The fall is the great reversal. It was, through the first man’s disobedience, the introduction of the power of sin flooding the well-ordered universe bringing the chaos of death, corruption, suffering and destruction. Pandora’s box has been opened and we live with the effects today. Redemption is the cavalry coming to reverse the effects of the fall and is often referred to as the kingdom of God. The kingdom All the miracles and expulsions of sitens are signs of the inbreaking of the kingdom of God. The kingdom has come (already) but it has not fully come (not yet). God is fixing the brokenness, healing and bringing wholeness. Conquering death and the fullness of shalom awaits the second coming and the consummation of all things in Christ. Living in the tension of the already of the kingdom and the not yet of the consummation we are going to find ourselves waiting a lot. A case in point is the story of Jairus in Mark 5:21-43.
So what does it mean to wait on the Lord? Waiting on the Lord involves duration, i.e. the passing of time. As Christians we believe the promises of God found in Scripture and claim them as our own. Yet, there is always a period of time between promise and fulfillment. That is why we wait. God is not a cosmic vending machine who delivers when we put in our coins and push His buttons. He has a strategy for our waiting and it challenges us to the core of our being. Waiting is a synonym for faith. It exercises the muscle of faith. Waiting is faith walking through the obstacles, contradictions and temptations of our already and not yet existence.
In Mark 5, Jairus illustrates waiting on the Lord in a graphic way. Jairus was a ruler in the synagogue much like a president who scheduled meetings. He was more than likely a prominent and wealthy person who commanded respect. He had considerable clout and could have easily thrown his weight around and demanded access to the controversial miracle man. Instead he approaches Jesus, falls at His feet and pleads with the passion of
a desperate man. His little daughter was at the point of death and his heart was overwhelmed with fear and despair. Jairus was tasting the brokenness of the fall and was powerless to fix it. His coming to Jesus was the birth of faith, sort of like the last straw of any kind of hope. His daughter is dying and he has nowhere else to go. The ways of God are not our ways and the thoughts of God are not our thoughts. Rarely does deliverance come immediately. We almost never walk in a straight, easy line to the goal of fulfillment. His way is often the birth of hope, the death of hope and the supernatural fulfillment of hope. Jesus goes with Jairus but the path to his daughter is not a straight line.
On the way to a desperate situation Jesus was moving slowly through a crowd and was touched by a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. She had been to multiple doctors but her condition was growing worse. As bad as her physical problem was, here spiritual and social situation was worse. She had heard of Jesus and in a moment of courageous faith she touches the hem of His garment and was instantly healed. Jesus perceived that healing power had gone from Him and inquired about who it was that had been healed. The woman fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. Now, the whole truth, mind you was a narrative of the past twelve years and must have taken a considerable time. Jesus patiently listens and declares that her faith had made her whole and pronounced a benediction over her. Well what about Jairus? What is he doing and thinking about this sitenstration of healing power and this lengthy delay? His hope and heart must have strengthened at seeing this miracle but then his legs are cut out from under him. Servants arrive and announce that his daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further? Jesus overhears and says something astounding to Jairus. “Do not fear; only believe.” But isn’t all hope gone, his little girl is dead. It appears that Jesus delayed just long enough for the little girl to die. He tells Jairus not to allow his fear to swallow up his faith, just keep on believing. He tells Jairus to cling to Him with tenacious conviction because all is in Jesus’ hands and he is with Him. Even though reports and circumstances say otherwise and though they are laughed to scorn by the paid grievers, Jesus says just keep on trusting Me. Jesus enters the home and with mom and dad went to where the child was and said, “Little girl, arise”. The twelve-year-old girl gets up and begins walking to the amazement and wonder of all. Jairus and his journey with Jesus is a profound illustration of waiting on the Lord. We see God’s strategy in our waiting—the birth of hope, the death of hope and the supernatural fulfillment of hope. His daughter is very sick, dies and is miraculously resurrected. The whole time Jesus is with Jairus , walking through it with him and encouraging him to keep on trusting in spite of what he knows and sees.
Why do we have to wait? Because the Christian life is a life of faith, not in ourselves but in the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. The Christian life is a path that leads us to and through one obstacle after another. We overcome by faith. God gets glory to Himself and we receive the benefits. Here is a promise for everyone who is waiting on God to claim—“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18).