Why Does God Wait?

Waiting. I don’t like it.

As a child, waiting for Christmas was almost torture. Waiting for other fun was hard: summer camp or birthdays.

As an adult, waiting for bad things to end or good things to begin is hard, and even if the tickets are bought, the bags are packed, the invitations sent, or whatever plans required are in place, making the event seem like a “sure” thing, the wait can be hard, or at the very least seem long.

As a parent, when I know I have the perfect gift for one of my children, I have a hard time waiting for the appointed time for them to open it. I want to tell them what I bought. I sometimes think about changing the time for opening presents to earlier, because watching them realize they have something they’ve been wanting, or perhaps something unexpected that is just right, brings me so much joy.

I like my ice cream now. I like my books edited now. I like to be healed immediately. I want anything uncomfortable or painful to be over now.

But waiting for those things are nothing compared to the waiting for a prodigal to be saved. We wait for the bad to be over and the good to begin, making it a doubly hard wait.

Knowing God’s sovereignty, His ability to speak a word and things happen, causes me to wonder why He is waiting. He can set everything in order for the salvation of our prodigals in less than a second, but for some reason He seems to  be waiting.

But even in the wait, I think this verse says it: “I will praise You forever, Because You have done it; And in the presence of Your saints I will wait on Your name, for it is good” (Psalm 52:9). He has already done it!

When we wait knowing something good is coming, it is not so hard. It can even be happy, peaceful—a wait full of assurance and hope, a knowing. When we are waiting with assurance something good will really happen, we go about our business until the appointed time, in full faith, in full trust in our heavenly Father. Knowing makes the wait a whole lot easier, when we wait in faith that the Lord will do just what He says He will do!

The Father Is Waiting

As a spiritual child, I know there are some things God the Father has promised me, and we can take comfort in knowing the Lord is like us in wanting to give good gifts to His children:

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:9–13).

When Matthew recorded these words of Jesus, he said, “give good things” (Matthew 7:11). God only gives good and perfect gifts (James 1:17), and it makes the anticipation at times intense. We are so ready for the good and perfect gift of our prodigals’ being saved.

The Word describes God’s perspective:

  • “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds” (Deuteronomy 33:26).
  • “’For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him’” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

When God waits, it isn’t because of Him, but because of people. In some instances, He is waiting to be asked, but we have asked, so that isn’t the reason. In fact, God’s Word tells us that He already knows what we need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8).

We know He is not waiting because He is too busy or because our requests are later in queue. He is not waiting until He rests enough to have the strength to answer the prayer. He is not waiting because He wants to frustrate, bully, or tease us, and, because He is El Shaddai, He has the ability and the resources. Also, we’ve seen that He wants to give us good gifts, including the Holy Spirit.

So, why does He wait?

Why Is God Waiting?

The Word tells us some reasons God waited in certain circumstances. Isaiah 30 is one such passage. It tells us God waited to bless the children of Israel because they would not have the blessing, because they had decided their way was best, and they preferred to do things their own way. Then He told Isaiah: “Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18). I like to think that last part, the part about being blessed because of waiting, also pertains to us who wait until our prodigals realize their way is not the best way and they surrender to the Lord. We will definitely be blessed when they do!

Another instance involved Jesus’ visit to His home country. The residents were offended at Him (Mark 6:3). They doubted who He was and questioned where He got His wisdom and power. Then verse five tells what happened next: “Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”

A verse we quote often holds another clue: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20). God is able, exceedingly abundantly able. If you are a grammar buff, you know the adverb exceedingly describes the adverb abundantly. The two words are not separated by a comma, which would make them a list of two different descriptions of the Lord’s ability. If that were the case, He would have exceeding ability and abundant ability, but His ability isn’t just exceeding or just abundant, but it exceeds abundance. It is much more than abundant.

These passages point to reasons for God’s wait: the outcome is in the hands of the recipient of the gift. In our case, prodigals have to receive the gift, but even then, we have authority in prayer and the use of the other spiritual weapons God has given us to tear down strongholds and break through the barriers the enemy has put in place to keep them from surrendering to the Lord. The Lord waits until they realize their way is not the best way, until they see Him as Son of God and Savior, until they know Him as all-powerful God, or until we or our prodigals do not limit the work of His power in our lives.

God has a perfect plan, the ability and resources to make it happen, and He knows when the work will be complete. He may seem to be waiting, and He is. He is waiting on us and on our prodigals, but it isn’t a sedentary wait—it is an active wait. He is loving, drawing, seeking, healing, and mending. He is breaking chains, tearing down walls, clearing paths, working on wills, replacing hearts of stone with hearts of flesh and ungodly influence with godly, and lifting veils. He is in anticipation, waiting to give us the gifts of saved prodigals!

And we are actively waiting—using the weapons give to us by the Lord to destroy strongholds and pray God’s perfect will to be done in their lives just like His perfect will is done in heaven.

Even though we know He always keeps His promise, the wait can be difficult or seem long, but we know it will come. It is a sure thing. After all, it is His perfect will!

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds (Deuteronomy 33:26).

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