No one likes to wait. We live in a world where patience is a lost art because we have abundant access to things that make our lives more convenient. When it comes to most things, there is usually a way around having to wait for it.
When we are stuck in traffic, we take backroads or use our phones to find alternate routes.
When our favorite store doesn’t have the pair of jeans we want in our size, we order them online.
When we are watching a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, we DVR it so that we can fast forward through commercials.
When the line is too long at the grocery store, we move to self-check out.
When we don’t know something, we ask Siri, Alexa, or Google.
When we want to talk to a friend or family member, we call, text, or FaceTime. We don’t have to wait until we see them in person again.
When we know we want Starbucks before work, we order ahead.
Most of us don’t wait well, or at least I know I don’t.
But what about things that we must wait for?
Starting a family.
Starting a new career.
Buying a house.
Moving to a new city.
Physical or psychological healing.
The freedom from addiction.
The restoration of a friendship.
The end of a difficult chapter.
Peace on earth.
The return of Christ.
Waiting is difficult…especially when we are so used to receiving what we want, when we when we want it. It’s painful to wait for something that seems so good and right.
But we aren’t alone in our waiting.
The bible is full of people who were asked to wait by faith, believing that God would keep his promises. Let’s take a look at the life of Abraham.
“The Lord has said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed through you…As for me, this is my covenant with you. You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my everlasting covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” — Genesis 12:1-3, 17:4-7
That’s a big promise. Clearly, God was for Abraham and not against him. He loved him and wanted all the best for him. He planned to pour out blessing and favor upon his life, and he anointed him to be the father of many people. That’s kind of a big deal.
But you see, Abraham didn’t receive this promise immediately, or even soon after God spoke it into existence.
In fact, Abraham had to wait until he was one hundred years old until he was able to see that promise come to pass.
His time of waiting wasn’t easy. He faced famine, familial discord, war, the battle against his own sin and flesh. He also doubted God and tried to take matters into his own hands on many occasions. Even in Abraham’s inpatient, God was still faithful to do what he said he would:
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah (Abraham’s wife), as he said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.” –Genesis 21:1-3
So what does this mean for us? What are the promises that God makes to us? What are we to wait on God to do, with eager expectation and belief in his promise-keeping track record?
God promises to fight for us — Exodus 14:14
God promises to give strength to the weary — Isaiah 40:29
God promises that his unfailing love for us will never be shaken — Isaiah 54:10
God promises that no weapon formed against us shall prevail — Isaiah 54:17
God promises to forgive our sins — 1 John 1:9
God promises that he will never leave us or forsake us — Deuteronomy 31:8
God promises to set us free from strongholds and addiction — John 8:36
God promises that nothing will ever separate us from his love — Romans 8:38-39
God promises to take the most difficult things in life and work them together for our good — Romans 8:28
God promises that he plans he has for our future are to prosper us and not harm us, to give us a hope and a future — Jeremiah 29:11
God didn’t turn back on his promise. Abraham wasn’t told no, I’m not going to do that anymore.
He was told not yet.
There’s a big difference.
Not yet gives us hope for the future.
Not yet implies that some day it will be so, even if that day isn’t here on this earth.
I desperately want to buy a puppy…but God has made it abundantly clear, through the counsel of my husband, that it is not yet the time to purchase a dog in the midst of career changes and transition…
I have begged God to heal me from anxiety for years, and more recently, depression. I have pleaded that it would all go away and that I would be set free. I genuinely believe that God will set me free one day, but right now, in this moment, it’s still a not yet for me.
I strongly believe that God has placed a calling on my life to work with individuals with eating disorders/disordered eating. My god-given talents and abilities have been affirmed through multiple different people and experiences. It is my dream to open up a private practice. It feels so good and natural; it feels like the right move. But I have also heard a very distinct, very firm, very loving “not yet”.
Hearing “not yet” is so difficult. It’s keeps us awake at night. It lays heavy on our souls. It brings tears to our eyes and causes our hearts to ache. It doesn’t feel right or fair or good.
But God’s promises are greater than our feelings. Although we may not have all the details about who, what, when, where, or why, we too can trust God in the “not yet”, because that voice is coming from our heavenly father who loves us dearly, keeps his promises, and knows what’s best.