Waiting Well

By Melissa McLaughlin

As Children – We Can’t Wait

I remember it like yesterday. With eager faces and fidgety bodies we sat through the Christmas Eve service at church. Angel costumes, eyes twinkling, voices resounding, Christmas carols ringing. We were there, but looking forward, looking ahead, looking onward.

Following the church service, our parents bustled us into the car where we traveled to visit family and enjoy evening refreshments. There we were, snacking on cookies and sipping sparkling cider punch. We were there yet looking forward, looking ahead, looking onward.

Finally, it was time to head home and prepare for a good night’s sleep. As we settled under the covers, all snug in our beds, we were almost there. Almost. Not quite. Just a little longer. How do you doze off when the joy of opening gifts and discovering treasures unknown awaited you in the morning?

As a child waiting for Christmas morning to arrive, the waiting was tough, like a steep uphill climb toward a mountain peak that appeared as a moving target, always just a little farther away. Still we rested in the deep knowing that we waited for something jubilant and wonderful. So although we waited, it was an expectant, lively waiting.

Waiting As Adults

The years passed swiftly and soon my husband and I assumed the role of parents preparing to celebrate Christmas with our children. Once again there was a gladsome waiting, but as parents there was also an overlay of weariness that clung to us. After having shopped and wrapped, cooked and cleaned we set off for the Christmas Eve service with our children. Once again we heard the sound of sweet voices lifting up praises to our King Jesus and witnessed angel costumes with tinsel halos and sparkling innocent eyes. The only difference, after arriving home it was time to orchestrate bath time, assist with pajamas, read bedtime stories and cuddle with little ones who we hoped would fall asleep quickly, so that gifts could be laid out before morning light.

Life hurries along, however, and we always seem to be waiting for something.

As one year ends and a new one begins, perhaps you are waiting. Waiting for the new job. Waiting for the new health treatment to work. Waiting for the paycheck to arrive in time to cover the mounting bills. Waiting for forgiveness. Waiting for emotional healing from past hurts. Waiting for the pain to subside. Waiting for God to answer your prayer. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

As the years pass, the waiting takes on new layers. Unwanted layers. Pain, sorrow, unmet desires, unfulfilled hopes, dying embers of aspirations and plans.

How do we navigate this kind of waiting? There is no neatly wrapped gift ready to greet us in the morning. No childlike laughter or smiling eyes to promise our souls as we wait. How do we wait like this? How do we wait when our minds are weary, our hearts drooping and our bodies bent?

People Who Waited in the Bible

One way is to look back on how others have waited faithfully with the Lord. These verses from Psalms were written well before the long awaited Messiah arrived on the scene.

Psalm 27:14 – Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 77:11-12 – I will remember the works of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.
I will also meditate on all Your work,
And talk of Your deeds.

Psalm 73:25-26 – Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Zechariah and Elizabeth Waited

Then in the New Testament book of Luke, we encounter many people who were given the challenge of waiting.

In Luke chapter 1, we remember the priest Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, who waited beyond the expected years for a child, when their prayers were answered, as told by the Angel Gabriel in verse 13, But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

Because Zechariah first doubted the Angel Gabriel’s message, he waited to speak until the child was born, as recorded here in verses 57-64: When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.

Mary and Joseph Waited

Mary and Joseph both waited while the angel’s messages were fulfilled in their lives, as recorded in the first and second chapters of Luke. Mary waited for the prophesy of her pregnancy to become a reality and then for the birth of the promised Messiah to occur. Joseph waited with Mary as they traveled to Bethlehem to be registered. They waited again as they sought a place to stay and then cared for a newborn baby in difficult surroundings. Each of these people followed the Lord’s leading as they waited.

Simeon and Anna Waited

Two additional people were waiting, Simeon and Anna, as the Christmas story continues in Luke chapter 2.

Luke 2:25-32 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “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.”

From this text we read that Simeon was righteous, devout and the Holy Spirit was on him. Though he waited for Israel to be saved, he waited with a life that was connected to the Lord in such a way that others witnessed his dedication to God and upright living. Clearly God, too, recognized Simeon’s spiritual fervor as He placed the Holy Spirit upon him.

Simeon is a great example of waiting on the Lord.

Waiting With God

Waiting with God means we place ourselves close to Him.

How do we draw near to God? How do we demonstrate righteousness and devotion as we wait?

By reading God’s Word, the Bible, praying, singing His praises and remaining connected to His body, the church. This allows others to witness our faith as we wait and allows the Lord to work in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The text in Luke moves on to highlight Anna in Luke 2:36-39 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Anna provides an exceptional model of waiting with the Lord.

We read here that Anna actually remained in the temple 24/7, worshiping, fasting and praying. Once she recognized Jesus, she then moved immediately to thanking God and telling others about Jesus, the Messiah.

Waiting with God means we place ourselves close to Him.

How do we draw near to God?

By spending time with other believers at church, worshiping the Lord, fasting, praying, thanking God and telling others about Jesus.

I love the story of Simeon and Anna. They shine like radiant stars steady and strong in the dark of night. Though the world was as weary and tired then as it is today, they waited. They waited with the Lord. They waited on the Lord. They waited in the Lord.

As one year now closes and a new one is opened, may we wait like Simeon and Anna. Though we don’t know where the twists and turns in our life will deposit us, we know the One who does. May we lean in close to God’s power, truth, sovereignty, goodness, grace and might. Let His strength seep into your tired bones. Let His love warm your spirit in places where the cold world has numbed you. Let His glory sprinkle down like gentle spring rains softening the soil of your heart in places where you are downtrodden and heavy packed with sorrow. May the delight of seeing and knowing Jesus, our Savior and Lord, be our greatest treasure, our finest moment, our trophy of life. For Jesus is a gift like no other.

Jesus is worth the wait.

Additional Resources

When Life Slows You Down – Three Things to Pray By Melissa McLaughlin

Wait For It – By Chip Mattis

Waiting on God – By Dr. Tony Evans

50 thoughts on “Waiting Well”

  1. Lovely post, Melissa. To be patient, to wait when we are in distress is our display of faith. So, I will share this with you: My mother, raised my brother and me as a single parent. She taught us about the Lord and took us to church–sometimes, just Sunday school when she didn’t go herself, though that was early in our lives; she became a committed Christian and lived her life as such when she was in her early thirties. My mother was a beautiful person–inside and out. She really was stunningly beautiful, but she never remarried. She devoted herself to my brother and me.
    Well, two years ago she died after a long hard fought battle with cancer. She had a lot of happiness in her life and a lot of sorrow. As she lay on her deathbed she suffered. I cried out to God, “Why? Why, Lord? She has endured so much. Must she die this way? Can’t you take her gently?” I was on my knees–literally in the hospital’s bathroom. My heart was unbearably heavy. I felt the forces of evil trying to pull me down and shatter my faith. I found the strength to say to the Lord, sincerely, “I don’t understand this. I will never understand this, but I will not leave you Lord. I still love you.” Then I took my place at my mother’s bedside. During my time in the bathroom, her pain had eased. She slept calmly and five hours later, the Lord took her. Gently.

    • Oh, Pam, this brought tears to my eyes. I truly don’t have words to thank you for sharing this painful, yet beautiful story. I wish I could have met your mom. She sounds so lovely and so special. The way she held on to the Lord no matter what, this is the kind of person I want to be.
      To hear how the Lord answered your cry, in her hospital room, is a cherished gem you can carry with you forever. I pray that when I am waiting in agonizing circumstances, that I will pray, on my knees like you did, with all my heart. For He hears, He sees, He knows and He cries with us, until that day that He can hold us in his arms forever. So let’s help each other keep waiting near Him, come what may. Where else can we go? Only He has the Words of eternal life that we need in those moments. Waiting with you, dear friend. Thank you again for sharing this precious golden memory of the Lord’s touch. God bless you and your family in the year ahead!

    • I love the way you say this, “the untimed God always perfect in all his ways”! May we wait with joyous expectation knowing Jesus is always with us and also waiting up ahead with an eternal joy we cannot even fathom. Waiting like Anna – enjoying the now with God, anticipating the future even more! Anna is an amazing role model. Bless you as you wait!

  2. Melissa,
    I was just having a conversation about the excitement of Christmas with my 21-year old daughter. She asked if it was normal for Christmas to loose it’s excitement as you get older. This question made me so sad-oh that I would maintain child like joy and excitement in all my waiting for Jesus and may I be a witness of His joy to those around me.

    Thank you for this beautiful reminder of examples of waiting with excitement. It was through Anna’s story that God called me to a life of prayer.

    • Elaine,
      It’s true, your daughter’s question points to how we should be living, with childlike joy in our precious Savior. May it be so!
      I just love the story of Anna. Someday, I would love to hear how God used her story to call you to a life of prayer. God bless you, your family and prayer ministry in the coming year!

  3. Thank you so much for this. I waited over a year for a new diet and lifestyle changes to heal my body. I love the story of Anna. I don’t believe I had ever read Simeon’s but I loved this passage that you shared. Indeed, Jesus is worth the wait.

    • Afi, I hope and pray your long wait and lifestyle changes are bringing the healing you needed. There seem to be more long waits in my life now than ever before, so I truly appreciate the faith demonstrated by Simeon and Anna. May we find joy in the Lord as we wait! Blessings to you in the year ahead!

  4. Melissa,
    My favorite sentence: “Waiting with God means we place ourselves close to Him.”
    You know why? It’s the word “with”. Usually I think of waiting FOR God, not with Him. Thanks for reminding me that He’s with me in the waiting.

  5. Waiting on God means we place ourselves close to him–this is really good. I can’t wait unless the Lord is with me. I have the spiritual gift of freaking out, so I’m not near the Lord when the hard thing comes, I’m going to freak out. Thankfully he’s kind and gracious to me as I wait and grow.

    • You’re cracking me up, Chip! I think I may also have that spiritual gift! I pray to grow more aware of His presence that I may rest and grow deep roots in the waiting. I remember a C.S. Lewis quote something like this, “Be thankful for the storm waves that crash you against the Rock of Ages.” Your comment makes me think of that.

  6. This is very encouraging! It brought to mind these scriptures:

    “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭4:20-21‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    • I love that section of scripture! You are right, reading back through all the people who have carried their faith in God strong, though they may not have seen the promises yet fulfilled. May we be just as strong in our faith in Him! God bless you and your family in the year ahead!

    • Jessie, I understand completely. I can be patient with some things, but when it comes to longsuffering and waiting with God in the big or painful things, I realize I need a lot of work. God is giving me “opportunities” to grow, so I pray that I will develop a faith that is steady and vibrant as I wait. May God bless you and yours in 2019!

  7. Thank you for this wonderful reminder on waiting on God. We are called on to wait every day and we don’t like it. Whether it’s in lines in the store, doctors appointments, in heavy traffic, etc., it is easy to lose patience. I believe a lot of it comes from the fact that when we are waiting we are no longer in control. These past couple of years God has been teaching me to be still before Him and know that He is God. He does what He is pleases to do, when He pleases to do it. So many things we can’t fix, but God can. Therefore, it is important to me to preach to myself…God is a wise and good God…I can trust Him! His character is to do us good and not evil. So we wait in Expectancy with joy and peace trusting Him in all things. It is not always easy, but His Grace is sufficient! Rom 8:28

    • Tricia, you captured the wide array of ways we spend waiting and why we dislike it so. When we wait, we are reminded that God is God and we are not and we’d rather be on the throne. Well said! As I learn to humble myself more and more before the God of the universe, I pray I can rest joyfully in His power and goodness. I agree with you, though I need to remind myself often, His grace is sufficient! Great verse!

  8. This is beautiful, Melissa. So much of our lives are spent on waiting, and you’re so right that the waiting of our youth seemed to be filled with much more joy and anticipation, and the waiting now is tinged with weariness. Part of waiting for me, in addition to being in God’s Word, in the church, and proclaiming his words, is talking to him constantly. I’m continually working on that for the flesh is weak. Whenever I grow discouraged, I discover that, once again, I’ve quit talking to him, have begun relying on myself or some other system in place to “do” things. Then, I backtrack, pray again, speak to him out loud, laying out my thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, desires, and hopes. I begin anew. Because I work at home alone every day, I often simply do this out loud. It helps me to be intentional. Your words remind me again. As always, thank you for your thoughts that urge us toward God, always written so beautifully and full of story and emotion. God bless you, sister.

    • Thank you, Melinda, for the encouraging words! I appreciate your suggestion to connect with God by praying and talking out loud. I have found the same thing to be a powerful tool in my prayer life. When I pray silently, my mind slips away into a million other thoughts, but when I pray out loud, I maintain my focus. When others are around me, I even sometimes whisper a prayer just loud enough for my own ears. May we wait with Him, beginning anew again and again. Bless you!

  9. Beautiful post! Waiting, waiting and waiting. I have found that the way I can wait best is to worship while I wait. Wait for God’s timing and provision, wait for a heart change, wait for some unseen event or just wait on me being ready to receive. Thank you for sharing!

    • Praise God! I love your suggestion to worship while I wait. That is always time well spent! You are right, much of our time is spent waiting for one thing or another. May we be drawn ever closer to Him as we wait, especially since so much of our lives is spent waiting. God bless you, Michelle!

  10. This is excellent! I don’t think we dialogue enough about how to wait for things (especially in our instant-gratification culture). I love what you said about “Waiting with God means we place ourselves close to Him.” Great article. Thank you, and God bless you!

    • Thank you, Jessica, for reading and commenting! Your words are so true. I am still learning how to wait and I can see I have a long way to go. We should share our strategies for waiting with the Lord, as you say, it’s not something we will learn from our fast-paced culture. I think it’s more of a God thing. God bless you!

  11. Dear Melissa, I have been blessed by your post and the comments. “Waiting is a game” was a quote heard in my childhood. Waiting is Not a Game is a collection of articles of faith (not yet published) written during a year of waiting for Jerry’s healing after his leg amputation. Three years passed and a third surgery was performed before it healed. Since then, waiting has become God’s means of preparing us for eternity with Him. There is much to be learned ~ faith, humility, patience, etc. that only come through the years of waiting. These are more prevalent later in life, so the early years are for preparation. Anna is also one with whom I relate, in age and waiting. Blessings to you and others who are learning to wait. 🙂

    • Dear Frances, I truly appreciate your perspective. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to learning more from your articles when they are published, as you can share the beauty of God that you have grown to understand through years of waiting. Faith, humility and patience are powerful qualities but they will not be formed or refined during the good times of life. Though I don’t look forward to years of waiting, I do desire the Godly characteristics they produce, as Anna portrayed so richly in the scriptures. God bless you!

  12. To every thing there is a season,
    and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
    A time to be born, a time to die;
    a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
    A time to kill, and a time to heal;
    a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    A time to get, and a time to lose;
    a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    A time to rend, and a time to sew;
    a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    A time to love, and a time to hate;
    A time of war, and a time of peace.
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

    A time to wait…
    And a time to take action.

    Grant us wisdom, O Lord!

  13. Whatever Jesus has in store for us is definitely worth waiting for. I’m thankful we can have fellowship with Him now as we wait to see Him face to face in glory. It can be hard to stay focused on Him with “life” happening down here. One day, though, it will be just like breathing. Come, Lord Jesus!

    Thanks for the lovely post!

    • Nicole, thank you for sharing your reflections! I love your analogy that one day focusing on Christ will be like breathing! I am thankful with you that we can be in fellowship with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit as we wait for that day. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

    • Simeon and Anna are an incredible inspiration in the way they waited as you say “with, on and in” the Lord! At the same time, their example is convicting, I agree. May we remember them and ask the Lord to help us move toward Him little by little by little. One day soon, we will be close to Him forever! God bless you!


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