We are undeniably a society that wants things instantly. We have fast food restaurants, drive-throughs, and overnight shipping. We pay subscriptions for faster services and instant grocery services. We have fast car services to pick us up minutes after we step off the plane. We want the option to live stream events and watch movies on demand. Our phones are a fast gateway to information. We want to save time and our electronic devices are designed just for that purpose. With them, we can transfer money and make payments without stepping into the bank. We can share and receive news on social media in an instant without writing letters or reading a printed newspaper. Waiting is becoming more of an antique occupation with each passing generation.
A study done in 2018 showed that the average attention span is now less than that of a goldfish at a whopping eight seconds compared to 12 seconds in the year 2000 (or around the time smartphones were introduced to society). As Benjamin Franklin said, “time is money” waiting makes us feel like our time is best spent doing something more valuable. Sadly, this desire for instant results and gratification finds its way into the counseling room and both the counselor and the counselee can fall prey to the desire to see instant growth and results. How do we teach the counselee to wait for the Lord when the world is training them to do the opposite? And how can we as counselors wait upon the Lord as we faithfully minister the word?
God’s Expectation of Waiting
Contrary to the world around us, waiting upon the Lord is a necessary ingredient in spiritual growth. In fact, the Lord commands us to wait upon Him:
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14)
Waiting on the Lord can be hard, but the Lord exhorts us to be strong and not lose heart as we wait upon Him. We wait for God to grant salvation (Psalm 62:1), to hear our prayers (Psalm 130:1-2), to have mercy on us (Psalm 123:2), to renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31), to adopt us as sons (Romans 8:23-25), to give us our inheritance (Psalm 37:9) and, most importantly we eagerly wait for the return of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7, James 5:7).
Waiting upon the Lord is not a passive action, but a patient and hopeful action where we twist and bind our actions to God’s commands and will. There is an attentive engagement with God’s Word while we wait. The Psalmist in Psalm 130 gives a beautiful portrait of waiting upon the Lord. He actively calls out of the depths to the Lord in prayer and calls upon His name to hear his petitions (Psalm 130:1-2).
As the Psalmist waits, he has a narrow-concentrated look for the Lord’s response as if he is looking intently through a keyhole. He waits in full dependence on God’s word, fully trusting the Lord as he entwines his heart with the promises of the word of God. He has an eager anticipation of relief and comfort. Consider here the Psalmist’s relentless commitment to wait upon the Lord in hope:
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in His word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than the watchmen for the morning,
more than the watchmen for the morning
The watchman does not sleep on the clock but eagerly awaits the dawning light. He cannot hurry time, or slow it down, or bid it do what he pleases for time only serves God the Master Watchmaker who ordains the fullness of time. In a similar manner, we wait in hope of God’s Word to fulfill its purposes, in both the counselor and the counselee alike.
God’s Example of Waiting
Not only does God expects us to wait upon Him, He demonstrates the perfect example of waiting for us to follow. God is a waiting God, and we must remember this. From the moment Adam partook of the fruit of good and evil on that tragic day in Eden and sin entered the world (Genesis 2:6), God has been a waiting God. His desire has been for all men to come to repentance as He patiently unfolded His redemptive plans through the many generations of judges, kings, and prophets. Our waiting God has infinite patience and forbearance (Romans 2:4) and is never slow to or late to anything and waits so that all would reach repentance and escape the wrath that is to come (2 Peter 3:8).
In times of stubborn rebellion of Israel before their captivity to Babylon, God lovingly waited on their repentance as He “spread out (His) hands all day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good and following their own devices” (Isaiah 65:2). Our waiting God did not abandon His people and in the fullness of time sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to redeem us (Galatians 4:4).
As Christ faced his final days, He lamented over the stiff-necked unbelief of the His people who had killed prophet after prophet sent to them. He sorrowed saying:
How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37).
Even now God continues to be a God who waits as He is not slow in the return of Christ. Though we may say rightly with John the apostle “Lord come quickly”, the Lord is waiting for those who are His to be saved, and we too wait expectantly for the revelation of Christ’s completed bride.
As the attention span of the world continues to diminish, and the world hurries along to obtain instant gratification, the counselor and the counselee slow down knowing that the Lord is not slow in keeping His promises (2 Peter 3:9). God exemplifies the perfect example of waiting and we His children are blessed and privileged to also wait upon Him. As Isaiah said, those who wait upon the Lord renew their strength, mount up with wings like eagles; run and do not grow to be weary; and walk and do not faint (Isaiah 40:30-31).