Waiting on God – Part 2
Two weeks ago, we looked at some examples from the Bible of people who had to wait in order to receive what God had promised.
Of course, there are many more examples than the ones we covered, far too many to include in a single blog! Or even in two blogs… but we decided to split our list into two, one for the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.
These are a few more stories of people who waited for what God would give them.
Waiting for the Messiah
The story of Simeon is a well-known part of the New Testament, told in Luke 2. Simeon had been promised that he would see the Messiah before he died. It’s not entirely clear how long he waited after the promise had been given – but his reaction on seeing Jesus, finally, suggests it had been a long time.
‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.’
Simeon, however, had not been waiting in the temple night and day since the promise was made… he was prompted the Holy Spirit to go the temple that day. Like us, he had to be open to hearing God’s instruction, and ready to follow it, in order to receive the incredible promise he had been given.
Waiting for Healing
Many of us who have suffered from ongoing or chronic health issues know the frustration of waiting for healing. Several of the stories of Jesus’ healing miracles involved people who had been waiting for years, or even decades, for their illness to be healed.
Just a few examples include two different women from the book of Luke. One had been waiting for twelve years for healing:
Luke 8:43 ‘…but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.’
And another woman who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years:
Luke 13:12-13 ‘…When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.’
And in John 5:6-9, Jesus meets a man who has been waiting for healing for thirty-eight years:
‘When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.’
Waiting for the Holy Spirit
During the time between his resurrection and ascension, Jesus gave the disciples very specific instructions about what to do after He was gone.
‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
They did as they were told, returning to Jerusalem after the ascension and waiting with the other believers. During this time, they “all joined together constantly in prayer” while waiting. As a result, when the Spirit came at Pentecost, they were all together in the same house, and experienced the life-changing presence of the Holy Spirit they’d been promised.
It seems unlikely that they would have known what they were waiting for. Just after Jesus gave them His instruction to return to the city, they asked him whether he would now “restore the Kingdom to Israel.” (Acts 1:6) They seemed to anticipating an event in the physical realm, with the type of power they were used to seeing in rulers and kings. The power that came on them at Pentecost was something entirely different.
This was waiting in true faith, not even knowing what the promise itself held. How many of us feel as though we’re in suspense for something, but unable to even guess what might be coming next?
In this case, at least, the story itself tells us what to do – just keep praying.