Charles Stanley - How Should We Wait?
Well, whether you're making a purchase or whether you are facing an emergency, that one thing you don't want to hear is, "Wait". None of us like to wait. We'd like to have it now. And we're living in a time when now is becoming more and more relevant because most anything you want today you can have pretty quickly. There was a time when you had to think in terms of wait a month for something. Then it got down to two weeks. Then it's a week. And now it's almost a day, and sometimes you can get it the same day. Look what a mess we're in morally in this country because people, sexually, are not willing to wait till they get married. Everybody wants everything now, and you would think that we've finally come to the conclusion that it's okay to have everything you want when you want it. God didn't make it that way. He knew that waiting was very, very important. If He didn't, He wouldn't have had so many times in the Scripture to bring it to our mind.
And so, the twenty-seventh Psalm, for example, if you'll look at this twenty-seventh Psalm, and the fourteenth verse says, "Wait for the Lord, Be strong and let your heart take courage, Yes, wait for the Lord". Now, why would He say it that way? Because He knows sometimes it's not easy to wait. It's not easy to wait, for example, if you have expected something for a very long time. "Wait for the Lord, Be strong and let your heart take courage". Be strong. Sometimes it takes strength to just wait. And He says, "Take courage, Yes, wait for the Lord". In what area of your life is it the most difficult for you to have to wait? What area is it? Is it in a relationship to somebody else, or is it money? Or in what relationship of your life do you have the most problem just having to wait? When I think about how many times God talks about waiting, waiting is very important as far as God is concerned. It's important in our physical life. It's important in our spiritual life. In fact, one of the key lessons in the Scripture is learning to wait upon God, how many times He admonishes us to wait.
And yet, we don't like to wait. We prefer to have things right now. But all of us are wise, enough I think, to know that some things it's better not to have just when you want it. There's sometimes that having something right now is not wise. Maybe we're not ready for it. For example, there're some things that are dangerous. There are some things that are dangerous not only physically, but emotionally. So, we have to be careful and we have to be conscious of the fact that waiting is more than just an idea. It is a principle of the Word of God, how many times He admonishes us to wait. And so, when we think about it, and He makes it so simple when He says, "Wait for the Lord". And then notice the next phrase. "Be strong and let your heart take courage," which is His way of saying sometime it's not going to be easy to wait. Listen to that, "Wait for the Lord, Be strong and let your heart take courage, Yes, wait for the Lord".
Why would God tell us to wait for anything? Because He knows that waiting has great advantages. It's good not to have everything you want when you want it. It's good to have to wait for some things. In fact, some things it becomes richer and richer when you have to wait and wait for it. And we live in a time when we want it now, you can have it now. That's about the way it is. For most things, you can have it now, but there are consequences. And paying those consequences is usually not worth what you get. Waiting upon the Lord is a key principle of the Word of God. And so, when I think about that and I think about some of the Scriptures; for example, turn, if you will, to Isaiah chapter forty for a moment. And I want you to notice something in this passage. Isaiah chapter forty. Listen to this, "Do you not know? And have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increase power.
Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord," what happens? "Will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary". When a follower of Jesus learns the principle of waiting upon the Lord, you learn one of the most important principles in the Word of God. You can just go from Genesis to Revelation. Waiting upon the Lord is not a popular idea, it's not an easy principle, but it is absolutely an essential principle if you're going to be the person God wants you to be, if you're going to do the things He wants you to do. There's something about that simple principle and you say, "W-A-I-T, that four letter word, why's that so important"? Ask God. You can start in Genesis. Ask God if you violate His caution to you to wait, you always pay a price. Want to say it again. When you violate that principle and stepping ahead of God, not waiting for Him, you always pay a price. That's why so many times, "None of those who wait for the Lord will be ashamed".
In Psalm thirty-seven, "Those who wait for the Lord will inherit the land". That is, God will give you what your heart needs and desires if you wait for His timing. He's a good God, and sometimes we act like, "Well, if I don't have it now, it's like God will forget". Let me ask you, what is the only thing God forgets? What is it? Forgiven sin. He forgets it. And people will ask you sometimes, "Well, why have you waited so long? Why don't you do this? Why don't you buy? Why do you wait for this and wait for that and wait for the other"? Because if you're wise, you wait till you hear from God. Now, think about this, I think about people who pray and, no doubt, let's just say that everybody prays at night before they go to bed. Do you pray about the things that you want that God has given you a caution, "Not now"? When you pray and ask God about making a purchase and you say, "Well, God hadn't stopped me, so it must be all right". Mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm, sounds like a teenager. That's not what that's about.
If you ask God for something, then you are obligated to wait until God gives you permission to do it. How many times does He say, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait upon the Lord". How wise it is to wait upon the Lord. And think about this, how do most people wait? Do you wait impatiently? That means you complain about it. You tell other people about it. You tell God about it, and you fuss at God because He hadn't already done it. You wait nervously. "Oh God, am I going to get it or am I not? Will you do something, Lord? Help me, help me, help me"? Or do you wait complaining? Think about this, think about God looking down on you while you're praying and asking Him about something. And just asking Him and complaining all the time because He hadn't given it to you yet. And then people, they wait questioning God. "Well, Lord, why don't You do it now"?
Think about something that you've asked God about in your life that He didn't do immediately. What was your response? Didn't you question, think about this, didn't you question His judgment? Well, why not now? Knowing in your heart, if you think how unreasonable this is. You make a request before God of something that's legitimate, and He doesn't give it to you right then. And then you come back and say, "Well now, Lord, what are You waiting for"? And you can't come up with any good reason why God hadn't given it to you now, and so what happens? You begin to complain. In your heart you know that God says, "Ask, and it shall be given to you, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you". That is, God is a good; wonderful; awesome God; very, very generous; giving all of us more than we deserve. And yet, when we don't get it when we want it, we come complaining. Stop and think. Would God withhold something from you that is good for you? No. Would He withhold it if now is the right time? No. If you stop and think, any time God withholds something from you, it's God withholding something out of wisdom, love, and for our benefit. That He knows that later is better, later we'll be ready for it, later we'll be equipped for it. We're not always equipped for everything we ask for.
And you would say that to your teenager or your grandchildren. You'd say to them, "There's some things you're not ready for". And at the same time, you ask God, and He doesn't give it to you when you want it and you question God. So, listen to this, think about all these attitudes: impatiently, nervously, complaining, questioning, frustrated, irritated, and miserably we wait. What have you been asking God for that He has not given you? I cannot tell you how important waiting upon Almighty God is because it is a key to the way God operates. I can't think of much I've ever asked God for that I got immediately. And watch this, sometimes we're not ready. Sometimes what we're asking for is the right thing, but God knows when you're ready for it or when you're not. And so, we complain about God because He's not giving us what we want when it's not that He's not giving us what He's waiting till we get ready.
And sometimes He's waiting till we realize that He's the source of what we're looking for in life and not somebody else. And sometimes He wants to teach us the fact we don't need that. We think we need that. He knows we don't need that. He knows that would be a stumbling block in our life. He knows that He has something better than that. And so, what does God say? He says, "Wait upon the Lord: be strong and of good courage, wait, I say, on the Lord". And so, we think about how we should wait. So, I hope you'll jot these down. How should we wait? We should wait patiently. We should wait patiently, and when I when I think about how many times we're admonished in the Word of God, "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of miry clay, set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm". Listen to this, "He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God, many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord".
That is, you going to be blessed if you wait for whatever you're looking for and searching for, and what you need in life if you wait for God's timing. None of us would question the fact that God's wiser than we are. We know that He's wiser than we are; so therefore, whatever I'm asking Him about, surely, I know that He knows the right time, the best time; watch this; and He knows that if I get it ahead of time, I won't enjoy it. He knows if I get it at the right time, enjoy it the rest of my life. There are not many principles in the Word of God more important than, "Wait upon the Lord: wait, I say, upon the Lord". So, secondly, how should we wait? We should wait quietly. Listen to this, Psalm sixty-two, "My soul waits in silence for God only". Here's what that means, I stop complaining. I wait quietly and stop complaining. "Thank you, Lord, I know that in Your given time, in Your good time, you will provide exactly what I'm asking for". And, then, of course, we wait trusting Him.
In other words, waiting just doesn't mean we don't say anything, we don't do anything, but waiting, watch, waiting is actively trusting God. I'm trusting You, Lord. It's saying it, I'm trusting You, Lord. That is, I'm not fretting about it. If I'm fretting, I'm not trusting, but He wants us to wait, trusting Him. Trusting in the Lord with all of our heart, leaning not to our own understanding, in all of our ways acknowledging Him. He'll bring it to pass. Would you say that you're a trusting person? Think about your prayer life for a moment. First of all, do you pray every day? If you don't, you're gonna get in trouble. All of us need to talk to Him every day. Do you pray patiently? And how many times have I heard this? "Well, I asked God about it and I prayed several times about it and I don't think God was listening to me". So, I would ask the question, what does God have to do, think about this, what does God have to do in your life to assure you that He's listening without saying anything audibly to you? What does He have to do? Can you trust Him to keep His Word? Shouldn't that be enough?
"Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be open to you". Not necessarily today or next week or next month, but am I willing to believe Him because I know that what I'm asking for is scripturally, it's right, it's good, it's the kindness of God, I feel free about that. But the timing, why do I have to wait? So, remember this, God in His wisdom and love always has a very specific reason for causing us to wait for some particular thing that we're asking about. Because, watch this, all we see is what's in front of us. God sees not only what's in front of us, but He sees what's beyond that and beyond that and beyond that, and He sees the effect it'll have in our life, whether we wait or whether we don't wait. And so, waiting is a very important principle in the Word of God. I'm to wait expectantly. Listen to this, "I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord".
There are times when there are situations and circumstances we think it's absolutely essential that I have this or that now, when that's really not true. This is a principle of Scripture, you wait till you get God's permission to make serious decisions, and I mean many decisions are not big decisions. They're small decisions, but they're serious because of the consequences. If I'm only looking from here to there, I'm not going to see it. The Spirit of God came into your life the moment you trusted Him as your Savior. One of His primary reasons to come into your life was to seal you as a child of God, but also to give you direction and guidance, that's one of His primary purposes. To give guidance and direction in a sinful, wicked, vile world. What we have is we have God living within our spirit to give us guidance and direction to when to say no, when to say yes, when to go this way, when to go that way. It is foolish to try to live your life in this world without God and without listening, which means your prayer life ought to have a priority in your life. Every day, the priority of our life ought to be time we spend alone with Him being quiet. And a good time to do that's when you start the day out.
There are people who work in situations and circumstances every day in the offices they live in. They're going to walk into a den of temptation, walk into a den of wickedness and vileness and foul language and all the rest. But they work there, and they have to be there at this particular point in their life. You cannot go in to work, wherever you work, forgetting God and just doing what you want to do. We have to be sensitive to our surroundings, careful about who sees what, what we listen to, what we don't listen to, and who is trying to influence us in some way. Wait upon the Lord. We wait trustingly, quietly, patiently, expectantly. "I would have despaired". We wait courageously. "Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage". Watch this, God knows that there's some things it takes courage to wait for. It takes courage to wait. You just have to wait, though you don't want to wait. Sometimes we can't, we can't even come up with a reason why God wouldn't do it now.
And if I've heard one thing as a pastor, I've heard that so many times, "Well, what is God waiting for"? Well, you know, I can give you all kind of answers, but the truth is, He's waiting, He's waiting from a heart of love to give you what you're asking for if it's His will. If it's not His will, you're not gonna have it, but He's waiting till the time is right. So, I want you to think for just a moment, I'm gonna give you fifteen seconds to think about something. You ready? And I want you to think about something you've been asking God for, something maybe for somebody else or something for yourself. And I'm gonna give you fifteen seconds to respond to this, how have you been responding to your requests to God? You've got fifteen seconds to think about it. All right, have you been waiting upon Him courageously? Patiently? Knowing that He always wants what's best for you? In other words, are you patiently waiting for God to answer your petition? Or are you coming to Him over and over and over again saying, "God, why not? Why not, God? I've prayed about this and I've thought about it. Why not"?
And here's His answer, "Because I love you". That's the reason. God is not gonna deprive us of anything that's good for us, that He knows we need, that it's okay for us to have, that we will enjoy, not disobey Him, not make it a god in our life. Some things you'll never get because God knows it would become a god in your life. Then, of course, we are to wait standing on God's Word. Listen, "I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His Word do I hope". So, how do you wait? Now, let me remind you of one thing, one of the reasons we have to wait is because of sin in our life. And God knows how to get our attention. When there's something in our life that's not right, we're asking Him for something else and we're thinking over here, "Now, God, here's what I need". And God is saying, "Well, over here's the reason you can't have it now. When you deal with this, I'll deal with that. As long as you won't deal with this, I'm not going to deal with that". Sin is a barrier to blessing. And if we want God's blessing, and if we want to shorten the time, we have to look at our heart, be sure it's clean.
We're submissive to His will and we want what He wants whatever that is, then more than likely, we'll receive what we're asking for. But what I want you to see is this, God doesn't miss a single opportunity to teach me to trust Him. It doesn't make any difference whether you're twenty-one or eighty-one. He's always in the process of teaching us to trust Him. Probably every single one of us seated here would say that there is something I'm praying about, I'm trusting God for. I'm waiting about it. Are you waiting patiently, as we said? Quietly? Trusting? Expectantly? Courageously? With confidence? Are you waiting? Trusting Him to hear and answer your prayer? Or has God brought something to your mind in the last twenty-five minutes that He wants you to deal with?
More than likely, if something cropped up in your mind that has to do with what you've been asking Him about, that's the thing He has His finger on. That's the thing you need to deal with if you want God to answer your prayer. He's a prayer-answering God. And Jesus made it so simple when He was teaching the Sermon on the Mount, He said, "Ask and it shall be given to you, seek, ye shall find, knock, it shall be opened unto you". In other words, God is so willing, "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have the petition we desired of Him". So, we have the promises. So, watch this: obey God, listen to Him, watch Him work, He'll work, amen?
Father, we thank You for the simplicity of Your Word. You didn't make it difficult for us to understand. You made it simple and plain so that we will listen to You more carefully. We'll listen to discern Your will from our will. You want to grow us up, not just in a single answer, but Lord, we know that You take great delight in granting to us the desires of our heart. Whoever seated here this morning is praying about whatever is on their heart and struggling with because it has not happened yet, would You grant them the understanding even now that the answer will come if it's Your will. It'll come in Your timing if we are obeying You, following in Your Word, and trusting You. We love You for loving us, Father. In Jesus's name, amen.