One day in April, four months later, as I was serving the king… Nehemiah 2:1 (TLB)
Do you enjoy waiting? Do you spontaneously express a “Hallelujah!” when you get on the Bayshore Freeway and your Google Maps app has a huge bold red line on your route? Don’t you love it when your Amazon Prime two-day order is delayed a week? Me neither!
This week, we pick up Nehemiah’s story in Nehemiah 2 and discover that his mourning, praying, fasting, and weeping (1:4) went on for four months! It raises a question that we will address this weekend in our study of Nehemiah, and I want to introduce to us today: Why does God have us wait?
In life we will be called to wait and we will also find waiting difficult. So it is important to recognize that there are lots of good reasons why waiting is not merely inescapable, but necessary and helpful. Here are just three of those reasons.
- BECAUSE WE LIVE IN A FALLEN WORLD: We are called to wait because the broken condition of the world makes everything we do harder. Nothing in life functions as originally intended. Something changed when sin entered the world, and God summarized that change: “cursed is the ground . . . through painful toil you will eat of it. . . . It will produce thorns and thistles for you. . . . By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” (Genesis 3:17-19). Sin brought friction and trouble and pain and sweat and a thousand other “thorn and thistle” complications to every aspect of life. We find ourselves waiting because everything in a fallen world is more laborious and entangled than it really ought to be.
- BECAUSE GOD’S WAYS ARE BEYOND OUR KNOWING: We must wait because we are not the authors of our own personal stories. Life does not work the way we want it to, in the time we want it to. You and I don’t occupy the throne room of the universe. That place is forever occupied by an all loving, all knowing, all powerful God. Our individual stories are part of the greater Eden-to-Heaven story that He alone authors. Waiting is more palpable when I realize God is sovereign (and I’m not) and when I reflect on the reality that God is the ultimate source of everything that is wise, loving, and good. This means we can rest as we wait, not because we like to wait, but because we trust the One who is calling us to wait.
- BECAUSE GOD WORKS IN THE WAIT: Waiting is not only about what we will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about who we are becoming as we wait. In calling us to wait, God is rescuing us from our enslavement to our own plans, our own wisdom, our own power, our own control.
Here is the bottom line that will be unpacked in greater detail this weekend: Waiting time is not wasted time! I look forward to explaining more on Sunday; in the meantime, you’ll just have to wait to hear more! We will study Nehemiah 2:1-10 and in every gathering you’ll hear from, quite possibly, my all-time favorite restorer. Sabuli Sanguma will be sharing about God’s work at the Sabuli Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo! I can’t wait!
See you on Sunday! I love being your pastor!