Waiting Well - Part 1
What does it mean to wait according to the Bible? And not just any waiting, but waiting well. Anyone can wait poorly. We do it every day. But how do we wait well? I want this time of quarantine and social distancing to be a refining and growing time for us individually and as a body. And maybe one of the things we learn in this time, maybe even thru these three devotions, is to wait well.
Psa. 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”
One of the important exhortations and commands of the Bible is the call to “wait on the Lord.” I think the reality for each of us is that even though God promises and holds out blessing for our waiting, waiting is one of the most difficult commands we encounter in Scripture. And one of the difficulties for us as believers is there is nothing we can do speed God up. For He is outside of what we know as time, and with Him one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day, see 2 Peter 3:8. And it feels like this oftentimes as we wait, like we have been waiting 1,000 years.
One of the important exhortations and commands of the Bible is the call to “wait on the Lord.”
So, the questions becomes, why is waiting so hard? The answer lies at least in part because, as a part of fallen humanity, and as resourceful as we are, it is so easy and we are so prone to take matters into our own hands, to follow our own ways and wisdom. We are capable of “getting results”. Yet, over and over again we are told in Scripture “wait on the Lord.” God often times is process oriented, meaning He cares about shaping us during the process, whereas we just wat to get the result and thru the process.
The unavoidable fact and reality of life is that no matter how hard we try to avoid it, life is full of waiting. Whether it is quarantine, a medical diagnosis, promotion, children, marriage, you name it, try as you may, we will all have to learn to wait. Avoid it as we might, circumstances and even God Himself will make us wait. There will be times of silence, times when we do not have the answers we desire. Times such as we find ourselves in now, where resources won’t change our circumstances nor speed up time. We must wait on the Lord.
In order to best steward and walk during these times, here are some questions we might ask or discuss in to learn how to and the value of waiting:
- What does it mean to wait? What’s involved?
- How are we to wait?
- Who and what are we waiting for?
- Why should we wait?
- How long do we wait?
I want these devotions this week to attempt to begin to help us wait well. In order to do this, we must first gain the proper and full Biblical definition of waiting. And in order to do this, we must look at how this word is translated in the Bible and what each of these words mean. We must also look at their context so that we can properly discern what is meant by waiting. So that is where will start today, the Biblical definition of waiting.
We will start by looking at the OLD TESTAMENT WORDS USED. In the NASB the word most often translated “wait” in the sense of waiting on the Lord is the Hebrew qavah. Qavah means (1) “to bind together” (perhaps by twisting strands as in making a rope), (2) “look patiently,” (3) “tarry or wait,” and (4) “hope, expect, look eagerly.”
The second most frequently used word in the Bible that is translated “wait” is yachal. Yachal means “to wait,” or “hope, wait expectantly,” and thus we see it in these many uses in our Bibles. The KJV sometimes translates yachal as “trust” as in Isaiah 51:5, but the NASB has “wait expectantly” and the NIV “wait in hope.”
A third word sometimes translated “wait” is damam. Damam means “to be dumb, grow silent, be still,” but it is sometimes translated “wait, tarry, rest” (cf. Psa. 62:5).
A fourth word for waiting is chakah, “to wait, tarry,” or “long for” (cf. Ps. 33:20; 106:13; Isa. 30:18).
If we look at the NEW TESTAMENT WORDS USED for waiting, here is what we will see. Prosdechomai is the primary word used in the New Testament for the concept of waiting. It is a compound word from pros, meaning “to or towards” and dechomai, meaning “receive, accept.” Prosdechomai means (1) “to receive to one’s self, receive favorably,” (2) “expect, look for, wait for.” Compare its use in Mark 15:43; Luke 2:25; 12:36; Acts 24:15; Titus 2:13; Jude 1:21. The focus of this word is on the coming of the Lord in either His first or second advents. For this we primarily wait for the consummation of all things.
The second most frequently used word is apekdechomai, a triple compound word made up of two prepositions, apo, meaning “from,” and ek, meaning “out,” and the verb dechomai, meaning “receive, accept.” If we put these together we see that this word for wait means “to await, expect eagerly.” Compare its use in Romans 8:19, 23, 25; 1 Corinthians
1:7; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:20. Again, the waiting here is primarily prophetic pointing to or fixing its focus on the return of the Lord and the glorious blessings that will follow. Again, it is here that everything will only completely make sense.
The other word translated “wait” in the New Testament is anameno. Literally, it means “to wait up”. The picture here is of a parent whose child is out and they wait up for that child to come home. It means “to await one whose coming is expected, perhaps with the added idea of patience and confidence.” This word is used only once and, again, it is used of the return of the Lord (1 Thess. 1:10).
Do we see a theme here? Do we see where ultimately our hope rests, where everything will finally come into focus? Do we see how when we get this ultimate focus correct regarding our waiting, that daily circumstantial things begin to fall into place?
Based upon all of these words and their usage, how would you describe what it means “to wait”? How does this compare to how you currently wait or see waiting? What might be causing or lacking in us that makes waiting more difficult for us? How could we become better “waiters”? Where might our current focus being in the wrong place impact our ability to wait daily? How does our confidence in the Lord effect our ability to wait?