If you’re waiting on God for something in your life, take time to be inspired by these examples of people, circumstances and verses in the Bible that involve patience. They will encourage you in a powerful way while you wait upon the Lord.
When we’re (not so patiently) waiting for something to happen, it can be easy to take things into our own hands.
When my husband and I were dating, I really wanted him to propose to me. I kept on dropping hints and having expectations of when it would happen, only to find myself frustrated and disappointed when he didn’t pop the question. Ironically, the night it did happen, I didn’t expect it at all.
I’d decided just to wait and see (rare for me!) and it certainly helped me to be more patient and made it even more exciting when he proposed.
Obviously there have been many more times since then that I’ve had to wait for the right timing for something in life that I really want. As a Type-A person, it’s easy for me to try to control my circumstance, rather than wait on God’s timing.
But there is a better way, one that Scripture wants to teach us, both through stories of patience for God’s people and through Bible verses that can encourage us as we wait with confident expectation in God’s perfect plans.
Biblical Examples of Waiting
If you’ve lived longer than a few years, you know that God’s timing isn’t always the same as your timing! It can be very challenging to do what we’re commanded in Scripture and to wait on the Lord, especially when it’s a long wait.
There are several “main characters” in Bible stories that lead by example.
God’s people, on a daily basis, were called to wait on Him in hard times.
The Hebrew people waited for deliverance while they were oppressed by the Egyptians for nearly 430 years before they escaped through God’s great power in the exodus, under the leadership of Moses. Then they wandered for 40 years after that before they reached the Promised Land. Talk about a test of patience.
Both Sarah and Hannah waited a very long time for the birth of their children.
One of the hardest things a woman can go through is waiting for a baby. Scripture says that Hannah was in deep anguish and cried bitterly to the Lord, begging Him to answer her prayer (1 Samuel 1:10). When her prayer was answered, she followed through on her commitment and sent her long-awaited son Samuel off to the temple. How hard that must have been for her! Yet, one step at a time, she placed her faith in God and walked forward.
Abraham and his wife Sarah had to leave their home and trust this promise, even though they were childless: “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3
Ten years later, Abraham and Sarah were definitely struggling to trust in the promise that he would be “the father of many nations”. Genesis 18:9-15 tells the story of the three angels visiting Abraham and Sarah. One angel of the Lord told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a child. Sarah didn’t think it was possible so she “laughed to herself.” She later gave birth to her son, Isaac, at just the right time.
Sometimes we cherish the answer to our prayers in a greater way when we have to wait for them to be answered.
Genesis chapters 37-50 tell us the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers and then languished in jail for two years as an innocent man, waiting for release from an unjust imprisonment.
Yet even during this time, God showed His faithfulness to Joesph in the small things. “But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.” Gen. 39:21
I can’t help but think that those small blessings gave Joseph patience in what would have been a very confusing time. Are there examples of God’s goodness that you’ve experienced in your life during times of waiting? I find it helpful to ask the Lord to help me focus on the blessings He’s providing in the middle of the difficult times. They’re there–even when I don’t see them initially because I’m so focused on myself!
Bible Verses about Waiting on God
After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 1 Kings 19:12
I love this verse because it reminds us that God shows up in the little things. Many times we want God to reveal Himself to us in a BIG way, especially when we think we’ve been so faithful in waiting on Him.
The funny thing is, God often takes small occasions in our lives and weaves them together to show us His plan one piece at a time. Only by looking back can we see how God’s gentle presence carried us into our next place.
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. James 5:7
Both of my grandparents as well as my parents were farmers and I remember vividly going out to the field one evening when I was about nine years old to bring my Grandpa supper. He was standing out in the swaying wheat field, rubbing pieces of the grain between his hands. “Too dry,” I heard him say as we approached. Then he looked up at the sky. “But God will come through.”
As a farmer, my Grandpa walked through many times of waiting for rain! The verse in James says that the farmer “waits for the precious fruit”. Waiting in this case involves a passive trust and also the active work of walking faithfully through each day, trusting in God’s timing.
“Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.” Micah 7:7
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits; and in His word, I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
This Psalm of David is one of my favorite Bible verses because in just a few words, I’m reminded to take a deep breath and place my hope where it belongs. Not in myself or in my circumstances, but in God’s power and the infallible Word of God.
God’s Promises in the Waiting
Know that the Lord has the best things in mind for you, even when it doesn’t seem like your circumstances are lining up in a way that makes this feel true.
“The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.” Psalm 145:15
“Be strong and of good courage, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 is a verse that might seem over-quoted. But if you dig into it, you’ll see that it shows us the reason we can be strong and trust in the promise of God: because He is always with us, no matter what we are going through.
His faithfulness does not depend on our faithfulness (which falters). He is always good.
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3
God is working while you wait. Learning to both actively and passively wait (like my Grandpa did in the example above) is a spiritual discipline. It comes about by working our “spiritual muscles”: reading the Bible, praying for patience, asking the Holy Spirit to help us trust even when the situation feels hopeless.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
This is probably the hardest thing for me to do when I’m supposed to be waiting on God. It’s hard to hear God’s voice when I’m caught up in making my own plans or trying to figure out what the best thing would be for ME.
This proverb isn’t a harsh command, but a gentle call to us as believers, working the fruit of patience in our lives as we daily submit our plans to God’s timing. Our Heavenly Father promises to guide and direct us and this honestly happens one day at a time.
If you’re struggling with giving your plans to God, try this. In the morning, wake up and say, “Lord, would you please help me to release my own expectations and trust in you to show me what you want for me today and for this circumstance that I’m waiting on. I know that I don’t understand everything fully. Help me to walk daily in trust and faith.”
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
The promise of eternal life remains true, even when things around us feel unsettled. We can trust in God’s plans and His perfect timing: they are a guarantee to us as Christians in this life and in the next.
This doesn’t mean that the results of our waiting will always look like we anticipated, but we can find strength and confidence in knowing that the Lord does want to “give good things to His people” (Luke 12:32), just like He did for the people in the Bible and like He continues to give to you today!
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