In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:1-8, NIV
How are you with patience? Do you consider yourself an expert? No? No! It’s almost as if we’re allergic to patience. We don’t like to wait. No surprise then that it’s all throughout the Bible – in stories, commands, encouragement; we are encouraged: wait. Waiting isn’t always easy, but it’s a necessary learned posture in a life of faith.
In Scripture, when someone is in trouble – that’s when waiting is hardest. Why is that? These people are out of resources, they’re threatened, they’re sick. This trouble makes it awfully tempting for them to take matters into their own hands when God and faithful living seem ineffective. They make these common mistakes of looking for alliance with kings of the world – placing their trust in politics. They turn to other popular gods for money, success, and image. They take up practices of pagans and fools. They rush ahead without taking their marching orders from God.
Does this sound familiar?
Yet, consistently Scripture tells us that we must wait.
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Even in the Psalms…
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
But, if we trace back further, could it be that the root of this goes back to Exodus? People are trapped between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, and Moses says, “The Lord will fight for you…you need only be still” (Exodus 14:14).
Are you facing a trouble? Have you exhausted your options and worn yourself out? Maybe the best thing we can do is bring it before the Lord and wait – to have radical trust in and dependence on a God who cares for his people.
Wait. Let God go first. Wait.