Waiting is hard. It goes against our nature. We want what we see, and we want it NOW. It is even harder for a young child, who does not yet understand the concept of time. Any waiting seems like an eternity.
We are programmed for instant gratification. The sooner the better. The self-control to wait—patiently—in prospect of something better to come is hard. Sometimes traumatic. All of God’s promises are built on a principle of waiting. Very few were ever immediate. If we want something better, we must learn to WORK and WAIT.
We have a short video that illustrates this principle. Waiting can be a tough lesson, especially at 3 years of age.
It’s been a while since we were 3 year olds, but the problem of waiting has not gone away. We still have WAIT tests, and tests which make us ask, Is it worth it?
What is the first test for this child, named Brooks? Why is the waiting so hard, so traumatic?
The TEST of UNCERTAINTY.
For Brooks, the test was not the second chocolate but the test of uncertainty. Could he be SURE he would get it?
Brooks hadn’t experienced this before. How could he KNOW he would get the second chocolate, even if he waited? He might end up with none! If he ate the chocolate he HAD, at least he would get one! That second chocolate was uncertain!
Isn’t this the way we naturally think—and multitudes more? It’s the old philosophy:
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
Holding out against uncertainty is the first test for us also. Before we can get anywhere in our progress toward pleasing God, FAITH must overcome UNCERTAINTY. We have to be convinced that God will be true, that this whole plan is real and that it has a solid foundation in fact.
But at the beginning we have to take it on faith. Waiting is hard because we are letting go what we can SEE (and could have) and investing in something we CANNOT SEE.
This is why faith is the basic requirement:
Hebrews 11:6 6But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We haven’t seen an immortal being. We haven’t had an angel speak to us. We haven’t SEEN anyone raised from the dead. We haven’t SEEN evil people put down.
How do we overcome this uncertainty? Is it possible to really—fully—BELIEVE? This is where we MUST go to the Scriptures. Absorb their message, and let their message absorb us. Let go the things that are seen in prospect of the reality of the things not seen. As Paul said,
2 Corinthians 4:18 18while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
When we get this perspective on our world and the things in it, life takes on a new meaning. It is like putting on new glasses, even 4-D glasses (have you heard of them?)
Then we can see what Jesus was saying here:
Luke 9:24 24For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
It is the new view of losing (this world) to GAIN the world to come, as opposed to gaining in this world and losing the world to come. Let us read it again with this thought:
Luke 9:24 24For whoever desires to save his life [in this world] will lose it [for the world to come], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will save it [for the world to come].
It is a case of present or future values.
Is it sure enough that we can let go of this world and its prospects [the chocolate we have been handed now] in prospect of what God has promised for the world to come [the second chocolate]?
It is holding on by hope. No wonder Paul wrote:
Romans 8:24–25 24For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Once we are convinced that the prize is absolutely SURE, then we can “eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Otherwise we will be like the child, crying, “Can I eat the chocolate NOW?”
Otherwise we will be like the Rich Fool in Jesus’ parable, who had a very prosperous year. What did he decide to do with his prospect of great wealth?
Luke 12:17–19 17And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’
Simple: Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy that first chocolate—because I might not get anything more!
Let’s see Brooks a little further into his lesson.
The TEST of ENDURANCE
Brooks managed to hold out until his dad reappeared with the second chocolate. Just barely, but he held out.
And then, another test. A third chocolate to WAIT for!
Isn’t that sometimes our experience also? The next test is also traumatic, just as traumatic as the first, maybe harder. This next test involved Brooks’ whole body and soul and mind and strength.
This took the child’s test to a whole second level above uncertainty: The test of ENDURANCE.
What did Jesus say about this phase of our test? It is the phase that, if we endure, will lead into salvation.
Matthew 24:13 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Now that Brooks has a partial fulfillment of his dad’s promise, he has a reason to hold out a little longer. Notice also that now he trusts his dad.
But the whole issues isn’t resolved yet. Brooks has some stretching to do, and it is painful. Dad has bigger expectations, and tougher lessons for him.
Isn’t this the way God works with us? We pass one test, and there comes another, right on top of it. But now we have even more reason to hold on—for the prize set in front of us. The promises get bigger as we go further.
Brooks is encouraged to continue holding out because at this point all looks good. Much of the uncertainty is gone because he can see his dad is working with him. It makes the whole prospect more sure. He hasn’t received any reward yet, but it looks like the plan is going forward.
Just so is God teaching us. When we get through one lesson, there comes another experience that requires MORE resources, and MORE commitment.
Hebrews 12:7 7If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?
Don’t we also get encouragement along the way? Standing back and looking at our lives, we can see where God is giving us lessons, and opening doors of opportunity.
After the agony has gone by, Dad asks the question:
Why was it so hard? Why the tears? Why the sobs?
Brook doesn’t answer, but the answer is obvious: He was thinking more about the pain than the prize. We can’t blame the child—this is his very first experience. But doesn’t that happen with us too?
If we would focus on the reward, we would have to ask, where is the sacrifice? When we think about the magnitude of the reward in prospect, what are we giving up? What are we letting go?
2 Corinthians 4:17 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
Then the final question:
Was it worth it? Would you do it again?
The surprising answer from the child is: “YES!” It was worth it.
With us, there will be no question. It is truly WORTH it, a thousand times, a million times, a zillion times over and over!
But we have to get through those first few stages. We have to get beyond the painful point of uncertainty. We have to know our heavenly Father WILL come through with what He has promised.
And we must ENDURE to the end. In the meantime we must WAIT in hope.
That is why the Psalmist could say,
Psalm 130:5 5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.
Now this is where we are:
1 Corinthians 4:5 5Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
Christian living means LONG waiting. Waiting in faith. Waiting with perseverance. Waiting while sacrificing. It is a like planting and waiting for a crop to mature. WE have to grow. WE have to mature, and growth takes TIME and diligence.
James 5:7–8 7Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
We must WAIT God’s time. It may or may not be according to what we expect. But God WILL come through for us.
If we ENDURE. Because
Matthew 24:13 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Is it worth waiting for? Pay attention, obey with perseverance, no matter how it hurts, endure to the end. We can trust our heavenly Father. When the wait is over, you will say, “I would do it again. No matter a little pain and suffering. As long as the Father is pleased. All that matters are the words, “Good job!”