A close friend is waiting for serious surgery…
A relative and mentor are waiting to discern the effect of recent chemotherapy treatments…
An acquaintance from the VA hospital waits in ICU for the source of his infection to be discovered…
A young woman waits for the right young man to come into her life…
Waiting remains a part of life – a big part! However, some waiting is more weighty (pardon the pun) than others. Much of what we do requires us to wait. Sometimes we readily recognize the importance of waiting. At other times its purpose is not so obvious.
When I began to think about this concept of waiting, I was surprised by what I discovered. I suppose I thought that waiting was something innately evil, probably a result of the fall! Actually, the Bible reveals much about waiting. For instance, following the eating of the forbidden fruit, God not only placed a curse on mankind but also promised future forgiveness and blessing. The curse and its consequences unfolded quickly. But the promise has taken ages to come to fruition. While this whole drama is playing out, we actually see the major actors waiting.
The New Testament encapsulates the drama: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:5, ESV)
- God waited – when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth…
- The Son (Jesus) waited – for the fullness of time to come, that is, to be born of a woman under the law
- Anticipated adoptees wait – those who were under the law who receive adoption as sons.
My point here, without unpacking the meaning and significance of these verses, is to point out that waiting is not inherently evil – God waits, Jesus waits, future sons (and daughters) wait. Waiting is a crucial part of the process God is using to redeem the world and to adopt his children.
Next, not only did the Son wait to be sent by God. But when he finally did arrive, his life was characterized by waiting. Being born in a manger in Bethlehem, Jesus grew and developed like any child. Entering into his adult life, he waited until the time was right to, as the Apostle’s Creed summarizes, suffer under Pontius Pilate, be crucified, die and be buried. Further, waited 3 days to be raised from the grave and 40 days to ascend the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He even now waits to come to judge the living and the dead. The Son knows how to wait.
What actually got me started thinking about this is Jesus’ model for enduring suffering found in Hebrews 12.1, 2. Jesus actually shows us how to “hang in there.” … let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Several quick but vital insights which will help us to endure:
- The race is set before us. – Circumstances are never random but a course requiring stringent effort to complete. Our Father has placed us in situations which force us to rely on him. There is a plan and purpose for this situation.
- Look to Jesus. – He Loves us and is the object of our faith. It is through his suffering and death that we receive grace and mercy from God. Jesus provides all we need for every situation.
- Follow his example of looking for joy in the future. Here we have an insight into what Jesus was actually thinking as he suffered the agony of the cross. He was looking ahead to the joy which was to come. He knew that he was accomplishing the purpose for which his Father had sent him and so he despised his suffering by anticipating future glory!
We endure what is set before us by looking to Jesus, who in turn teaches us to anticipate future blessings – he endured the shame of the cross by looking ahead to the joy of redeeming his people, finishing the work that his Father sent him to accomplish and finally to reign on the throne of God.