1. Waiting – A Negative Connotation?
An old Indian song warns us not to be fooled into waiting on the false hopes that someday, someone will come and improve their lives – the reference is to some self-serving and deceptive politicians and religious leaders who are out there just to exploit and control people. Very sound advice, one would agree.
1.1 Building Character and Virtue
Many times, the word ‘wait’ has a negative connotation – as something of no value or some unproductive time that is just being wasted. However, waiting can also be a time of growth, preparation, purpose, gaining wisdom, insight, knowledge, building character, understanding, strength, etc. Like a person aspiring to win an Olympic medal is not just idling around waiting for the date of the event. She/he would also let the coach/trainer work on her/him in preparation and growth.
2. ‘Now’ and ‘Not-Yet’ Tension
The book of Revelation talks of “new heavens and new earth”, where there will be no more death, no more tears, no more pain. So seeking to be delivered from suffering is a very legitimate desire and hope. However, there is tension between the “now” and “not-yet”. What God has promised in this world is that we can be overcomers who in turn will empower/bless others. Jesus said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world”.
3. Purpose of Prayer and Waiting
David says in Psalm 40:1-3: “I waited patiently for the Lord, And He reached down to me and heard my cry”. David continues on the effect of waiting on the Lord: “He set my feet on a rock, making my footsteps firm”. One could ask, what is the purpose of prayer if God knows everything and that He would accomplish His purposes anyway. I would submit that the purpose of prayer is that we would become the fulfillment of the prayer in the best possible way and that we will become part of the solution and part of God’s plan.
4. We Are the Fulfillment and Part of Solution
When Jesus taught how to pray, he said: “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-13). What is the fulfillment of this prayer? The fulfillment of this prayer is through the very people who are praying this prayer (the followers of Jesus – the church). It is through our obedience to God that the will of God is done on earth and the kingdom of God is established on this earth.
Khalil Gibran said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”.
As Jesus showed us, where there are scars, beautiful things can spring forth. If we let God build our character and wisdom through a relationship with God, instead of only worrying about our problems, we will be overcomers who empower others and become part of God’s solution.