This annoying but well-meant saying is often metered out as a solution to those who have become frustrated while waiting for something. It offers the act of not waiting as some sort of catalyst for what you're waiting for to come to fruition. I've had it said to me a lot and I've often said it to others without really thinking. But I wonder, is this really true? And because I'm trying to follow Christ rather than blindly follow the advice of the world around me, I also wonder, is this what God says his followers should do?
The Bible tells us to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). We hope for something we don't yet have. Why would we be joyful in that hope if we weren't supposed to expect something? Where is the joy in not hoping for anything??
About a year ago a friend gave me a prophesy that really resonated with something I had heard from God, and she told me to be ready and expectant. As I (still) wait for that I've been thinking about those people whose stories are told in the Bible; those who received promises from God long before they were fulfilled. And I started to think about what He said to them.
When we talk about a prophesy or something we are waiting to see realised, we often talk about being "pregnant" - with an idea, a dream or a promise. And what do we say when we talk about a woman who is pregnant with a baby? We say she is "expecting". God sent an angel to tell Mary she should expect a child and God told Abraham that he should expect a son. God didn't make His promises and then say, 'but don't actually expect it because then it won't happen when you think it will!
There's a verse in Luke 1:45 following the announcement to Mary that speaks about her reaction to the (frankly quite scary) news she had received: 'You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.'
God spoke to Abraham again about His promise after more than a decade (A DECADE!!!) had lapsed since the promise had been given. God also reiterated this a bit later when Sarah was in earshot - 'I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah will have a son!' (Genesis 18:10) And the scriptures say that 'Adam believed the Lord, and the Lord counted Him righteous because of his faith.' (Genesis 15:6)
There are several scriptures in the Bible which confirm to me that a believer's relationship with God is such that He requires action from us before He can respond. He has given us free will and I don't think He forces communication. I mean that's actually the very nature of becoming a Christian, right? We have to believe God and accept Christ before He can enter into relationship with us.
The scriptures connect this thinking:
- 'Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.' Jeremiah 33:3
- '"And so I tell you, keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."' Luke 11:9-10
- And my favourite which I only recently discovered: 'So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him so He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.' Isaiah 30:17.
These scriptures teach that we are to keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. And that we should then wait; not that we should ask and then forget about it. Not that we should clock watch, but that we should live with a joyous expectation.
I wonder if this slogan, 'It will happen when you least expect it' has come from a place of misunderstanding. Maybe things seem to happen when we "least expect it" because the "it" takes longer than we thought it would/should or it comes to us in an unusual way. So by the time it comes around we are no longer expecting it. And so maybe it's not that our lack of expectation prompted the "it" to happen, but that we had given up the wait without realising that all God's promises take place at what He deems to be the right time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says 'Everything beautiful happens in its time.' (If you have a moment have a read of the rest of this chapter - super reassuring if you're feeling a bit rubbish!)
The beauty of God's promises is that even if we stop waiting or expecting, we can be sure that He still does what He says He will do. The Bible tells us in Numbers 23:19 that God is 'not human that He should lie, not a human being that He should change His mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfil?' (just to be clear, that's a rhetorical question lol). We also read in 2 Timothy 2:13 the words, 'If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.'
I know that a lot of people give advice based on their past experiences and in hindsight (wisely might I add) while I'm still living every bit of what I'm writing about! So obviously feel free to ignore this post if you'd rather wait to see the outcome of God's promises in my life!
Having said that, I really believe for sure that God does
keep His promises! So if you're still waiting for something you believe He told you; hang on. When you pray, remind Him of the promises He made to you because it is our faithfulness that God desires.
If there are people you trust well enough then of course share how you feel with them so that they can encourage you in difficult times when hope seems so far away. But don't make the mistake I did and try to get other people to "buy-in" to the promise you had! Know that God's word to you is enough.
And last of all, join me in taking courage from this scripture in Habakkuk 2:3b: 'If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.'