Children do it at Christmastime. Teenage drivers do it as their 16th birthday approaches. Job applicants do it hoping to get a call back for a job interview. Those with physical illnesses do it until the test results come back. Waiting is the most difficult of life’s challenges. Cheryl and I have been learning that on several levels—waiting for the biopsy results from her cancer surgery, for the insurance company to act on our claims, for healing in her body, not to mention other things we’re concerned about—loved ones we pray will turn to Christ, missions projects we want to accomplish, the return of Christ we hope will happen in our lifetimes. There are so many things for which we’re waiting!
But even though it’s hard, waiting is good for us. Otherwise God wouldn’t ask us to do it. For by waiting we not only learn to believe in Him with our minds, but to trust Him with our hearts. Looking back, David, who waited long for his dreams of kingship to be realized, identified 3 benefits of waiting on God. The first is that God hears us. The temptation when we pray long and hard without an obvious answer is to think that God doesn’t care about us and isn’t listening. But David corrects that in Psalm 40:1 saying, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Our God is a personal Savior who is touched by our needs and bends His ear to listen to us whenever we cry out to Him.
The second certainty is that God delivers us. David continues, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” We’ve felt a little like that this last year. I lost a job I loved only to find God leading us into an exciting new ministry, something we wouldn’t have otherwise attempted. Then as we were recovering from the stress of that life change, Cheryl was diagnosed with cervical cancer but no insurance to pay for the treatments. But after a short waiting period, God has answered both prayers. If you’re interested in the details, click on this Update about Cheryl’s Health. As a dear friend used to remind me, “God is never in a hurry but He’s always on time!” I can now testify to that from personal experience.
A third benefit of waiting is that God turns it into a story we can share with others. David says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.” No one likes to suffer, nor would we choose to suffer if we could avoid it. But our suffering is short-lived compared to the glory we’ll enjoy as God’s children and is in fact the very basis of the new song we’ll sing to Him. This new song will in turn give faith to others. But its impact won’t end with this life. It will form the lyrics of the song of praise we’ll sing to Him throughout eternity.
Cheryl and I have already completed several stanzas of this song in our years of marriage. Tomorrow we celebrate our 37th anniversary! One verse is how He healed our daughter of cancer at age 4. Another is how He healed our troubled marriage. Still another is how He’s helped us complete 34 years of ministry, including 5 years on the mission field. But we’re determined to write at least one more verse in this song of praise, and that’s the healing of Cheryl’s cancer. Pray that we’ll win this battle as well, so we can add to the new song God has given us and that “many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.”