Waiting on God

 
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Recently when I gave a talk on waiting, my youngest son said, “Dad, you always make me wait for things.”

“How so?” I asked.

“Well, when I ask for something and you say ‘hold on,’ that always means yes. When you say, ‘I’ll think about it,’ there’s a 50–50 chance you’ll say yes. But when you say ‘next time,’ that means never.”

Since then, I’ve had to think more carefully about what I say to my kids!

Sometimes waiting doesn’t feel like a big deal — in line at the market, in traffic, or at a doctor’s office. But what about when God makes us wait for something that feels urgent?

For many church leaders, it’s ministry that feels urgent. For example, when church planting is arduous and uncertain, and you’re waiting for things to stabilize. Or when, after years of faithfully serving your church, you’re still waiting to see lives changed. Or, on a personal level, you’ve been in a long season of suffering and hardship. Or perhaps you’re bi-vocational and have been anxiously waiting for a job to come through.

If you’re a ministry leader in a season of waiting today, you may find comfort from the story of Jairus and the bleeding woman, found in Mark 5:21–43.

When God’s Delays Don’t Make Sense

Jairus was a prominent man. As a religious leader with status and influence, he was used to getting his way. But because his daughter was very sick, he comes to Jesus desperate and needy.

While Jesus headed to Jairus’s home, a bleeding woman touches him and is miraculously healed. The woman wanted to quietly engage Jesus and leave. No hassle, no confrontation. But that doesn’t happen. Jesus stops, looks around, and asks, “Who touched me?” The woman reveals herself, and Jesus proceeds to have a long conversation with her.

While waiting, the worst news comes. A messenger informs them that Jairus’s daughter has passed away. Jairus must have been crushed. If only Jesus had not delayed!

Why would Jesus make Jairus wait? Doesn’t Jesus know how serious and urgent this is?

When God makes us wait, three things can happen:

  1. When God makes us wait, we can become frustrated.
    When Jesus stops and asks “Who touched me?” the disciples are annoyed. Who cares! Why are you stopping to ask? We don’t have time to talk, we need action! We don’t need to engage in unimportant matters, we need to save a person’s life! Similarly, we often become frustrated with God.

  2. When God makes us wait, we can question God’s wisdom.
    Doesn’t Jesus know the difference between someone with an ongoing medical condition and someone who is literally dying? Oftentimes, we think we know best and question God’s priorities and wisdom.

  3. When God makes us wait, we can question God’s love.
    In our confusion or anger, we may be tempted to think, Does God not care? I must not be that important to Him. Why is He making me wait for something so urgent?

So how should we understand God’s delay?

When we’re waiting, we must remember three things:

First, God’s timetable is different than ours.

We live in a culture of here and now. And with our culture’s emphasis on individualism, the focus becomes all about us. Because of this, we’re bad at waiting.

But God’s timetable is different than ours. If you are a Christian, God will make you wait sometimes. As we see in the story of Jairus, Jesus cannot be hurried. He operates on his own schedule, and we must learn to wait on Him.

Here is one thing to consider while you are waiting: if you’re not happy or content now, you must be careful about the future taking ahold of you. Christianity says, “Your future doesn’t hold you. Rather, Jesus holds your future.” So the question is, “Will you trust him with your future?”[1]

Second, God’s wisdom is greater than ours.

From Jesus’ perspective, the dying child isn’t any more urgent than the sick woman in front of him.

So why does Jesus delay and talk to this woman? Various commentaries suggest that it’s because she viewed Jesus as a miracle healer. If she left, she would have been physically healed but not spiritually healed. Therefore, Jesus has to confront her so that she can understand who He really is and what He came to do.

Jesus was not hurried, nor did he make choices because he felt rushed. As Christians, we are similarly called to trust in God’s wise timing, even when the delays might not make sense to us.

In Isaiah 55:8, God tells us,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.

Proverbs 3:5–6 reminds us,

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding…

But how can we trust in God’s wisdom when we don’t understand it and the delays are incredibly hard?

Third, God’s love is always ours.

When God makes us wait, we think he doesn’t care and we often question his love. It’s easy to imagine that Jairus feels unloved by Jesus, which is why Jesus tells him, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Jesus then goes to Jairus’s home and heals his daughter. Notice his tenderness. He takes the girl by the hand and says, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “little girl, arise.” Like a parent gently waking a sleeping child in the morning, Jesus is incredibly loving and gentle.

But Jesus is not only tender; he is extremely powerful. Death immediately responds to His words, and this girl is brought back to life!

When we are waiting, and when we are anxious about what might happen in the future, how can we know God’s love is always ours? How can we know that God’s power will not run out on us?

When we first planted our church, I remember the incredible joy and achievement of seeing a new church begin, only to be reminded the next day that we were a small church struggling to survive (Monday blues). Waiting on God meant learning to trust Him while faithfully engaging my ministry work and knowing there was no magic pill for church planting. I rode the roller coaster of emotions often. I felt the exhilarating high of gathering a higher tithe or having more people at a service than we expected. But I would also felt the crushing weight of ministry when attendance dipped or it was hard to make ends meet.

For those who are church planting or engaged in an established ministry, there is always a season of waiting, whether it’s waiting to see a church plant grow, waiting to hire staff so you don’t feel alone and isolated, or waiting to see members grow in their maturity in Christ.

Trusting God’s timetable means resting in the truth that God knows what’s best for you and your ministry. And the way your ministry develops may have a completely different trajectory than others. God will not be hurried in building up His church and His people.

Trusting in God’s wisdom means God knows exactly what He is doing, for the ministry that you are engaged in, and for the sanctifying work He is doing in your life.

Lastly, while trusting in God, do not forget that His love for you is always yours. Your approval is not based on ministry success or failure. In Christ, you are deeply and perfectly loved. The pressure of performance will be turned into peace.

You will find God’s word to be true indeed:

Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

— Isaiah 40:31


[1] Adam Houge. When God Makes You Wait. (Virginia: Living Tree Publishing, 2015). Digital.

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About the Author

Paul Kim was born in Hawaii, but has lived in California for most of his life. After marrying his wife, Linda, a few years after college, Paul attended seminary at Westminster. In 2001, Kim and his family planted a church that would become Redeemer San Diego. Paul enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids, eating good food, and rooting for the Chargers and Cal football.

 
Paul Kim