Craig Groeschel - Why is God Making Me Wait?
One of the worst feelings in life... Is to wait. Right? How many know what I'm talking about? Does anybody say, like, I love to wait? Nobody likes to wait. One of the worst feelings in life is to wait, especially when it comes to waiting on God. You know what I'm talking about. Some of you right now, you may feel like you're waiting on God. You prayed for something, and you're wondering, "God, what's taking so long? God, are you even listening? Have you forgotten me? Do you not even care"?
You might be praying for who knows what? Maybe you're praying that God would heal you from migraines. Perhaps you're asking God to bring a loved one to Christ. You might be praying that God would give you a job with real benefits to help you provide for your family. You might ask God to heal you from depression, or to save your hurting marriage, or for God to bring you a spouse. And yet, the more you pray, the less you see, and you wonder, "Where are you, God? I've been praying for a spouse for years". I have one friend, she's been praying for a spouse. She had a list of 43 specific requests for God. That specific. God, bring me a man with these 43 qualities. After a few years, it's down to two. I want him to be a male and I want him to be employed. God, just bring me a man who's got a job.
Some of you may feel like this. You've been praying, and you've been begging, and you've been waiting, and you've been wondering, and you're believing that God can, but he hasn't, and you've waited so long that you're starting to wonder if God hears your prayers, if he cares, or if he's even there at all. What do you do when you've been waiting? The title of today's message is, "Why is God Making Me Wait"?
And I wanna show you from scripture what God is actually doing while we're waiting. If you've ever felt like God is taking a long time, God I don't know where you are. I don't know why you don't do this. This is exactly what people felt like in the Bible when they were waiting on God to send a Savior. If you don't know the story, I want to walk you through it today. God promised to send a Messiah. God would send the Savior of the world. God promised it would happen, and then... Nothing, for decades after decades and centuries after centuries. In fact, I want to show you just how how long God's people waited on God's promise. We have to go all the way back to the beginning, in the book of Genesis, in the garden of Eden.
If you know the story, God created man and said, "It's good, but it's not good that you're alone. You keep getting in trouble. You need help". He created Eve. Adam saw Eve. He said, "Whoa, man". God said, "Now you're good together. Be fruitful and multiply. Be blessed. Enjoy the garden, just don't eat from the fruit of that one tree. I'm not trying to forbid you from fun. I'm trying to free you for life and blessing". And Eve gave in and Adam gave in, and they sinned, and they were ashamed, and God brought a covering to them, and then there's one little weird verse that you may have never noticed before in Genesis chapter three, an odd, quirky little verse that many theologians and scholars say is the first prophecy that God would send a Savior. A Messiah would come.
There's a verse that says, "The seed of a woman would crush the serpent's head". The seed, one day, through the lineage of Eve, would be born one who would come, who would crush the serpent, the head of our spiritual enemy, and there would be victory, and death would be conquered and hell would be conquered, and sin would be conquered, and we would have freedom. One day, it's prophesied that God was send a Savior through the seed of a woman, who would crush the serpent's head.
Go all the way back back to the third chapter of the Bible, and God promises to send a Savior, and then, centuries passed. We could pick it up anywhere in the Old Testament. I'm gonna pick it up in the book of Isaiah. 700 years, get this, 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesies in chapter seven, verse 14, the very same verse we just read in Matthew, that was fulfilled in Matthew. "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and we will call him Immanuel". 700 years miraculously before the event, Isaiah prophesies, and yet we had to wait, wait, wait.
What is God doing when you're waiting? What's God doing when you're praying for healing, or a blessing, or for reconciliation, or for provision? Is God jacking with you, because he can? I mean, he could do it, but he doesn't. Is he cruel? Is he playful? Is he teasing you? Is God just waiting to show off? What in the world is God doing hen he could do something, but he's not doing it, and you're waiting? Those are fair questions. Do you ever ask them? It's safe to ask those real questions and take them before a real God who has real answers. What is God doing while we're waiting?
Well, to try to answer that very important question, I want to do is I want to show you a period of history that's not in the Bible. There's a period of history that's not recorded in the Bible. It's called the intertestamental period, and let me explain to you what it is. This is the period of 400 years between the time when the old Testament ended in Malachi. When I was a new Christian, I called him Malachi, okay? When the Old Testament ended in Malachi, and it's the 400 years before the New Testament started in the book of Matthew. It's the intertestamental period. It's the 400 years between the Old Testament and the new Testament. During this time, during this 400 years, there was no word from the Lord. God didn't speak at all, which made things way more difficult, because before, when they were waiting on a Savior, at least God was speaking, but now they continued to wait and they heard nothing at all.
I'm guessing that someone here probably feels like that. You're probably praying on something, having faith for something, believing for something, and yet you've got no word from God. You've got no sign that he heard you, no sign that he's active, no sign that he cares. All you want is some answer, any answer. Give me a sign, God. Give me a feeling. Give me anything. And yet, for some of you, there's nothing at all. What is God doing while we're waiting? Why does God feel so silent? I want to remind you that just because God feels silent doesn't mean he's absent. What is God doing while you're waiting?
I want to show you today through God's Word that while you're waiting, God is working. While you're waiting, while you're wondering behind the scenes, the goodness of God, the power of God, the provision of God, the grace of God, he's always working. He's always working. He's working in all things to bring about good. He loves you. He's a good Father. He has good plans for you. He wants to bless you. He wants to prosper you. Just because you don't see it happening doesn't mean he's not doing anything. What is God doing while you're waiting? God is always working, even while we're waiting.
In fact, I want to show you a verse in the New Testament that gives us context, both toward God's timing and toward the event we celebrate this week, the birth of Christ. It's found in Galatians chapter four, verses four and five, and the Apostle Paul says this. He says, "But when the set time". Somebody say, "Set time". Set time. Type that in the chat, the set time. "But when the set time had fully come," what did God do? In that perfect moment, "God sent his Son, born of a woman". Remember Genesis 3, the seed of a woman. "Born of a woman". That's interesting. Why does it say that? But, "Born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship".
At the perfect time, in the perfect moment, when the time had fully come, God sent his Son Jesus to purchase us out of our sinful lifestyle, to redeem us with forgiveness of grace, that we are no longer children of sin, but instead, we are children of the most high God. Our God did that in... The perfect time. I love the phrase in the Greek. The two words translated the time had fully come is the word pleroma chronou. Chronou, if you'll think of chronology, it's like a clock. That means time. Pleroma, it means complete, or it means the full measure. Together, it means the perfect time. Let me tell you how this phrase is translated by different Bible translations. One translator says, "But when the time was right, God sent his Son". Another version says, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son".
Literally this phrase means, but when the time was fully pregnant. And as someone who watched his wife give birth six times, I know what that means. In other words, when it's not time, you can't force it. And when it is time, you can't stop it. Somebody say amen, right? If it's not God's time, you can't make it happen. But when the time is fully right, there's no power on earth that can stop the will of God from coming forth. But when the time was right, God sent his Son, born of a woman. Remember Genesis. We talked about the seed of a woman. From the seed a woman would come the Savior who would crush the serpent. Why does it say that? This is bizarre.
If you look everywhere else in scripture, when you look at the biology of a seed, it always talks about the seed of a man. This is the only time you're gonna see the seed of a woman. Why is that? Because Jesus was born of a virgin. He didn't, he wasn't born from the seed of a sinful earthly man. Instead, how is he conceived? By the Holy Spirit. So his father was of divine nature. Born of a virgin, therefore, didn't inherit the sin nature that we inherited. Born of the seed of a woman, conceived by the Holy Spirit, he was perfect in every way. That's why he could be the sacrifice, the innocent one, the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of our world, forgiven us. That's how good our God is.
At the perfect time. You see how scripture ties together. Jesus came born of a woman. Centuries passed. People were waiting on the Savior. When did God fulfill his promise and send the Messiah? The answer is when the time was just right. At the perfect moment, God sent his Son. Looking back, we can see why God waited. Sometimes in hindsight, you see more of the why behind the wait. I'm going to talk to somebody here, because right now you don't see it. But years from now, you may look back and say, "Oh wow, well I'm glad he didn't," or, "I'm glad he did".
Sometimes in hindsight, you can see the why behind the wait. When we look back, we can see exactly why God waited for the perfect time. His ways are always good. Just because God feels silent doesn't mean he's absent. Whenever you're waiting, remember our God is working. Back to the intertestamental period, that 400 years. How many of you love history? Raise your hand, raise your hand. I think some of you are lying. Man, I didn't love history at all. I hated it when I was growing up. I'm gonna give you a little history, and if you'll just hang with me, we're actually going somewhere. What I want to do is show you five of the most important things that God was doing in those 400 years, while everybody else was waiting. Five important things.
The first thing, who's ever heard of Alexander the Great? Anybody heard of Alexander the Great? In 12 years, he conquered the entire world. Now, let me just give you a little secret. When you conquer the entire world, they put Great by your name. I'm just telling you. They call a lot of people the GOAT nowadays. All they've done is dunked a basketball. He conquered the world. They call him the Great. Why is this significant? Because this was the first time in history there was a common language. In those days, almost everyone spoke a little Greek because Alexander the Great conquered the world.
The second thing during this time, the Old Testament was translated into, guess what? Into Greek, the language that everyone spoke. Previously, it was in Hebrew, until about the year 280 or so BC. The Old Testament and all of its prophecies about a Messiah were translated into Greek.
The third thing, you may have heard of the Socratic Method. This was a new way of learning that emerged, and for the first time, instead of teaching with one-way communication, people were encouraged to ask questions, and they learned by asking, instead of just by hearing.
Number four, in 63 BC, the Romans conquered the Greeks. This was a very unusual and unprecedented season of peace. And so while the Romans weren't having to fight wars, instead, they developed roads and highways and transportation system, making transportation possible as it never was before.
And number five, there was this, known as the Diaspora. The Diaspora was a really weird season when the Jews who didn't want this, they were forbidden from living in Jerusalem, and suddenly they were dispersed or spread throughout the entire Roman world, and when add all those things up together you start to see the why behind the wait. Where are you, God? What are you doing? What were you doing in that season of silence? Well, suddenly, in those 400 years when people wondered where God was and what he was doing, suddenly, everyone for the first time could read the Bible in a language that they understood. For the first time, they were not only allowed but encouraged to ask questions to the God who was about to send the answer, whose name was Jesus. Out of nowhere, for the first time in the history of the world, the good news of a Savior could travel through a common language, across roads and highways through a Jewish people who were spread throughout the entire Roman world, then to Gentiles and beyond.
In other words, while God's people were waiting, God was still working. In the same way, while you're praying, and you're wondering, and you're hoping, and you're asking, in your waiting, God is still working. He's always working behind the scenes. Some of you right now, you're exactly where I am in one area of my life. You feel like you're in a holding pattern. You're waiting, believing, doing everything you know to do, trusting in a God who says he can, and yet he hasn't. You might be wondering, what did I do wrong? Have I failed? Is it a lack of my faith? Is there sin in my life? Have I let God down? Does he not care about me?
If you're waiting, you're not alone. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years to hold their baby Isaac. 25 years. Joseph had a vision to rule, to lead, to influence, to save. He waited 13 years, much of it in prison for a crime he did not commit. The woman with the issue of blood, 12 years, 12 years, in private agony, unable to function like a normal woman, held up relationally, interpersonally, spiritually, unclean. 12 years to touch the hem of the garment of the one who said, "Your faith has healed you". A man who couldn't walk for 38 years. 38 years. 38 years. Unable to walk before Jesus looked at him and said, "Pick up your mat. Take it home on two feet. You're healed".
While you're waiting, while you're waiting right now, and don't see anything, God is working. While you're hoping, while you're wondering, God is waiting. I hope there's someone here that will hear this and you'll internalize it, that God's delays are not necessarily God's denials. Come on! Just because he hasn't doesn't mean that he's not going to. Maybe it's just not the time yet. In other words, while you're waiting on it. I don't know what it would be for you, but some of you are waiting on it. You're waiting on the answer. You're waiting on it. You're waiting on the miracle. You're waiting on the provision. You're waiting on the relationship. Whatever it is, maybe the reason you're waiting on it is because it's not ready. God's still working on it. God's still working on it.
This is indescribably emotional for me, because when I came out of my sinful lifestyle in college, I just decided, come hell or high water, I'm gonna have a God-honoring marriage, period. So I stopped dating completely. Didn't date anybody for over two years, which was a long time compared to, you know, where I came from. And I took Saturday nights, and it was my date night with God in preparation for marriage. And I would journal, and I read books, and I listened to cassette tapes. If you don't know what a cassette tape is, ask your grandma. That's what we had then, and I listened to cassette tapes on marriage, and I wrote a letter every week to the one who would be my wife, talking about how I would love and honor her, and how I was praying for her.
And I waited on her, and what I didn't realize is that while I was waiting, God was working, because the one that he was preparing for me had grown up in the church, and had been a really strong Christian, and in college, much like many people, wandered off the path and she wasn't walking intimately with Jesus, and while I was waiting, God was working, because he'd been drawing or back for a couple of months but she didn't really know, how do you unwind the friendships, and just, you know, leave and go completely back to God. And God sent her a friend, who came to her house and talked to her two roommates, and just said, "I want you to know, I fully surrender my life to Jesus, and I'm gonna go for him now, and that's what I'm doing," and she just looked on and said, "Oh, that's how you do it". And that's what she did.
And on November the 19th, 1989, after months of God working at the perfect time, she said yes to fully surrender her life to Jesus, and a year later, we were engaged, and 30 years later, we have six kids and more grandkids coming, in God's perfect time. What's so emotional to me is, while I was waiting, the one I was praying for, the one that I was loving in my purity, the one that I was loving in my patience, God was working on her. You may be waiting on it, and I'll tell you right now, God may be working on it. Our God may not be working on it, because it may be ready, but you may not be ready. Amen! Maybe God's waiting on you to get ready. He's doing something in you. He's doing something in you.
Maybe you prayed and believed, "I'd be married one day," and you're still single. God's doing something in you. Maybe you're married, and you're wondering, "God, why don't you hear my prayer? Why don't you bring healing in my marriage"? You're believing for the job that's gonna meet the needs that you have in a way that, really, your education and your preparation is is worthy of, or you're like me in the holding zone, and you're waiting and praying and begging and believing that God's gonna bring healing to the young ladies in my life, my daughters, that I love so much. While you're waiting, God's working. He may be working on it. He may be working on you. You may not be ready yet.
What I found is that God will often do something in you before he does something for you. He does something in you before he does something for you. You're waiting, you're waiting, you're waiting, you're waiting, you're waiting. Don't waste the waiting. Don't waste the waiting. Maybe what God is doing is he's... He's teaching you to depend on him in a way you never have before. Maybe he's revealing his faithfulness to you in a way that you couldn't experience otherwise. Maybe he's teaching you patience. You made a mistake a long time ago, praying for patience. There it is, and he's teaching you patience. Maybe he's knocking something off of you. Maybe he's chipping away at sin in you. Maybe he's conforming you to the image of Christ. Maybe it's not ready. Maybe you're not ready.
Whatever's going on, don't waste the waiting. Don't waste the waiting. Learn to depend on him like never before. Maybe he's drawing you close to get to know him in a way that you wouldn't otherwise. Don't waste the waiting. I love what the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 64, verse four. He says, "Since ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived". Listen to me. "No one has heard, and no ear has perceived, no eye has ever seen any God besides you who acts on behalf of those who wait for him". When you wait on God, he acts on your behalf. When you wait on God, he moves on behalf of you. He responds. He initiates. He interrupts. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no one has conceived the goodness, the power, the grace, the glory of the God who acts on behalf of those who wait on him.
God's ways are always good. His timing is always perfect. You can trust him. He's not ignoring you. He hasn't forgotten you. He loves you. He cares about you. He is always good. Our God knows the cries of your heart. Just because he feels silent doesn't mean God is absent. What's he doing? What's he doing, while you're asking, hoping, waiting, believing, begging, praying. While you're waiting, our good, our powerful, our all-loving, our all-knowing God, he is working. He's working. And years from now, when you look back, you may see why the wait was worth it.
It's incredibly interesting to me that Christianity is unique amongst all world religions. When you think about it, every other religious system, people pursue their version of God. Think about it. Any other religious system, you try to win the favor of God with good works. You try to win the love of God with religious rituals. You try to perform your way to his pleasure. If you're good, you gain favor. If you're bad, you lose favor. You look at every other system of religion in the world and people try to work their way. They pursue God. But Christianity is so different. We serve a God who pursues us. We serve a God who pursues us.
When the time was just right, when the time had fully come, when the moment was perfect, God sent his Son, his one and only Son. God pursued you. He sent Jesus, not for the righteous, but for the sinners, for the broken. He sent Jesus, not for those who are already healthy, but for those of us who are sick. He sent Jesus, full of grace and full of truth. He sent Jesus, the Son who sets people free. We serve a God who pursues us, and maybe the God you're waiting for, what if he's actually pursuing you? I love the promises of God. 2 Peter 3:9 says this. "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, our God, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but our God wants everyone to come to repentance".
Our God is patient. Our God is patient. In the same way he was patient with me, in the same way he was patient with Amy, maybe he's being patient with you, because he wants everyone to come into the knowledge of his goodness, his love, his mercy, and his grace. He's patient. What if the God you're waiting for is waiting for you? What if, at this moment, he's wanting you to say yes to him? If you're hurting, if you're waiting, believe me, I understand. Been praying for a long time, and continuing to believe, and still haven't seen the answer, the provision, the miracle, the healing from God that I believe that we'll see. But with everything in me, I believe his timing is perfect. I believe that he's always good. And I believe that while I'm waiting, I believe that while you're waiting, our good God is still working.
So Father, today, do a work in a way that only you can do. We ask for you to work, God, even as we're waiting.
As you're reflecting and praying today at all of our churches, those of you that would say, "Yeah, there's something I'm waiting for". There's a prayer that feels unanswered. There's a miracle that you're hoping to come. There's a provision that you have not yet seen. There's healing or restoration that you're continuing to wait upon God to bring about. If you find yourself waiting and you want God to have his way to do his will while you're waiting, would you lift up your hands right now? Just, all of our different churches, just lift lift up your hands, and in a moment of surrender before God.
I thank you, God, that nothing's wasted, that you're always bringing about good. So in a season when we don't really understand, God, build our faith, deepen our trust in you. Draw us closer to you, God, than maybe we've ever been before. Help us to fully trust your character, your nature, your goodness, and God, to continue to wait, believing in faith. God, we just believe that you can, whatever it is. We believe that you will. God, and even if you don't, we still believe. We still believe. God, for those who are waiting right now, would you just comfort them. Help us to put our faith in you, that you're still working. God, we trust you. We trust you, and we believe by faith, God, that at the perfect time, at the right moment, that you will do your perfect will on earth as it is in heaven.
As you keep praying today, what I love about Amy's story is God was drawing her for some time, and she just didn't know exactly what to do. And one moment, one day she just said, "Let's just go all in. Let's just do this. Let's just, Jesus, be first in every way". And the amazing thing is, some of you, you may have a story similar to that. You may feel drawn to God. You've kind of been flirting around with the things of Christ. You've been watching some messages, looking at some clips on social media, maybe coming to church here and there. Maybe you grew up in church and yet you've drifted from God, and today, you're coming home. You're coming back today. God's been waiting. What if the God you've been waiting for, he's been waiting for you.
He's waiting for you. He's waiting for you. He loves you. He loves you so much. He loves you a ridiculous amount, so much so that he became one of you. God became flesh. Jesus, born of a virgin, not with the seed of an earthly father, not inheriting the sin nature of mankind, but conceived by the Holy Spirit, God in the flesh, Jesus, perfect, the Lamb of God, the Savior, the Messiah, prophesied centuries before, God, that you sent, so we could be saved, forgiven, and made new. Wherever you're watching from, you may feel far from God. You are a prayer away from your sins being forgiven and being in the very presence of a God who's reaching out to you. He's not slow in keeping his promises. He wants you to come to a place of knowing his goodness, knowing his love, knowing his grace, knowing his forgiveness.
Wherever you're watching, those who say, "I need it. I want it". Today's the day, right now. Today's the day. Today's the day. Today's the day. Today's the day. It's the perfect time. The time is right. My life is not my own. Today, I give it to Jesus. The time is right. Now is the moment. My life is no longer mine. By faith, I give it to Jesus. When you do, God hears your prayers. He forgives your sins. You're new. The old is gone and the new is come. Wherever you're watching, you say, yes, today, I fully surrender. Now is my moment. I give my life to Jesus. That's your prayer. Lift your hands high now.
All of our churches say, yes, I surrender. As we had hands going up, all of our churches, those of you online, you just type it in the chat. Jesus, I'm giving my life to you. Just type it in right now. I'm giving my life to Jesus. And wherever you're watching, would you just take a moment and pause, and we're gonna pray all of us together. Just pray aloud wherever you are. Just before God, declare these words from your heart. Pray:
Heavenly Father, I surrender my life. Today is the day. I give you all of me. Jesus, save me. Forgive the filth, the sins. Make me brand new. Fill me with your Spirit so I can follow you, so I can show your love, so I can do your will. My life is not mine. I give it all to you. Every bit. Today, thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus' name I pray it.