The waiting period

The waiting test is one of the most important tests in the Christian life. Most of us are waiting for something to happen, for doors to open, for prayers to be answered, for miracles to happen and for breakthroughs to come. Many Bible characters also went through this test. Abraham waited twenty-five years for a son, Joseph waited for thirteen years before his dream came true, Moses waited forty years in the wilderness, Paul waited fourteen years in Arabia, and so we can go on and on. Even Jesus had to wait eighteen years before He could enter into His public ministry. At the age of twelve He said that He must be about His Father’s business, but only entered into His public ministry at the age of thirty.

The waiting test is not only important, but it can be very difficult. If someone said to us, “climb the mountain!” We would do so. But if they said, “sit at the foot of the mountain and wait!” We would find this quite difficult. However, there is a great blessing when we are able to wait for God’s timing. The best things come to those who are able to wait!

Six things that we can do when we find ourselves in a waiting period:

Firstly, we must not try to force things to happen.

There is a great temptation to try to help God and do things in the flesh during the waiting period. One of the best examples is that of Abraham, when God promised to give him a son. He must have been so excited and probably expected his wife to fall pregnant a few weeks later. However, after twelve years, when nothing happened, he could not wait any longer and decided to help God to speed things up. We all know what happened, he slept with his servant Hagar and had a son called Ishmael. However, it was not the right son, so he had to wait another thirteen years! After twenty-five long years, when he and his wife Sarah could no longer have children, they were now ready for their miracle, and Isaac was born. There are two important lessons we can learn from this:

The first lesson is that God often waits for us to come to the end of our own strength, efforts and our clever ideas before He acts. He wants us to know that everything we receive is because of His grace and when the breakthrough comes, all the glory goes to Him. This is called the ‘way of the cross’ which means, ‘out of death comes life,’ or death before resurrection. There is often a “death experience” before the breakthrough comes.

There are a number of examples in the Bible:

We have already looked at Abraham’s experience. Moses had to spend forty years in the wilderness before he could enter into his calling. The Children of Israel had to wait forty years in the wilderness before they could enter into the Promised Land. Joseph had to wait thirteen years in Egypt before he saw the fulfillment of what God had promised him. David had to flee from Saul for thirteen years like a vagabond, before he became king. There are many other examples as well. I have seen this principle repeated over and over in the lives of those whom God has called into the ministry and are greatly used by God today. Many can testify that there was once a ‘death’ experience before they entered into their dreams and desires.

The second lesson that we can learn from Abraham’s experience is that we can make terrible mistakes if we do not wait. The birth of Ishmael was a big mistake! It was the seed of Ishmael that has resisted God’s purposes and persecuted God’s children for thousands of years.  We also have the example of King Saul. He was not able to wait for the arrival of Samuel, and his mistake eventually caused him to lose his kingdom. Another example is that of the Children of Israel. They could not wait for Moses to return from the mountain so they turned away from God and worshipped the golden calf.

There are many modern day examples of people who could not wait. Many young Christian girls have not waited for God to give them the right marriage partner so they have married unbelievers and today they are frustrated and unfulfilled. There are those, who could not wait for God to open the right doors for them and have made terrible mistakes.

In my experience, God often seems to move like a tortoise and we usually have to wait longer than we would like to wait. However, God is never late, and when he begins to move, it is often like lightning. We have the example in the Book of Acts where they continued steadfastly in prayer and prayed for ten days. Then in we read in Acts 2, “Suddenly there was a sound of a mighty rushing wind.” The suddenlies of God are often preceded by our continues!

Secondly, we must not give up: (Perseverance)

We have the example of Israelites in wilderness. Instead of persevering they became impatient and discouraged and “gave up.” A journey that was supposed to last for a few weeks became a forty year “nightmare”. Likewise, there are many who came so close to their breakthrough and gave up at the last moment because they could not wait and became impatient.

One of the most important words we need to know while we are in the waiting period is the word continue! There are many ‘continues’ in the Bible, for example, “continue steadfastly in prayer, continue in faith, continue in the grace of God, continue in My word, etc.” Winston Churchill, the prime minister of England, made a famous speech to a group of young people during the last war. They were expecting one of his profound speeches, but instead, Churchill stood and said these few words. “Young people, I say to you, never give up, never, never, give up!” He then sat down, and that was the end of his speech. We should let the words of Churchill ring in our hearts, “Never, never, never, give up!”  Those that do not quit will win!

In the Hebrews 10:36, we read, “For you have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” It is so important that we just keep doing what we believe God has told us to do, even if we do not see an immediate breakthrough. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:9, “Do not become weary in well doing, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” The good news is that we will not be forever in the waiting period; there will be a ‘due season’! Therefore, we should keep praying, keep believing, keep obeying and keep confessing God’s word until we see the breakthrough.

Thirdly, we must do our best during the waiting period.

One of the quickest ways out of the waiting period is to do our very best in the small things that God wants us to do right now. The best example in the Old Testament is that of Joseph. God gave him a wonderful promise that he would one day be a great leader. After he received this promise, he had to spend the next thirteen years as a slave and a prisoner in Egypt. However, whatever Joseph did, he was faithful and did it well. In the house of Potiphar, he was the best slave. When he was thrown into prison, he was the best prisoner.

As a result of his faithfulness and his excellent spirit, he came out of his waiting period and was promoted to become a leader in Egypt. We also notice that the skills he learnt as an administrator in the house of Potiphar and in prison, he probably used in his new leadership position. He learnt to lead a nation in the house of Potiphar. Therefore, we should use our waiting periods to improve our skills and abilities for one day we may use them when we receive our breakthroughs!

We also notice that Joseph met the right person when he was in prison that introduced him to Pharaoh. Therefore, God may be working behind the scenes putting the right people and situations in place that we will one day need when our breakthroughs come. ,

Paul said to the Colossians 3:23,  “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Therefore, if we want to know what we should do right now, we should just continue what we are doing now, and do it well. We can pray well, we can worship well and do what we are doing now, we must do it with all our hearts.

Fourthly, we must pass our tests during the waiting period:

Our Christian life is like a school, it is called, the school of the Spirit. In order to progress in school we have to write exams and pass them. The same is true in the Kingdom of God. Often God will put us through various tests before He promotes us or releases us into our calling. We read in Deuteronomy 8:2, how God tested the Children of Israel, “God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to test, to know what was in your heart.”  

The wilderness was a place of testing for the Children of Israel and the reason why God tested them was to prepare them to possess the Promised Land. He had to take the “spirit of Egypt” out of their hearts and teach them to trust and believe in Him. However, they failed their tests and wandered around and around the mountains in the wilderness for forty years. There are many like that today who spend their whole lives in a spiritual wilderness because they do not pass their tests. They would like to come out of their waiting periods, but God is waiting for them to pass their tests and change their attitudes.

There are many other examples those who were tested in the Bible. In Psalm 17:3, David said, “You tested my heart.” Joseph was probably tested in Egypt to forgive his brothers. Moses was tested in the wilderness for forty years. During those forty years , God humbled him and prepared him to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Even Jesus was tested in the wilderness for forty days before He entered into His public ministry. In James 1:12 we read, “Blessed is the man that endures temptation (testing): for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”

So, if we find ourselves in some sort of waiting period, it may be wise to ask the Holy Spirit if there is some test that we need to pass. The sooner we pass our tests, the sooner we will come out of our waiting periods!

Fifthly, we must be careful how we speak during the waiting period:

We have the example of the Children of Israel in the wilderness. They murmured and complained and had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. Many are in a spiritual wilderness today, stuck in their waiting periods because of their negative words. We read in 1 Peter 3:10,  “… he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.” We are commanded in Hebrews 10:23 to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” We need to continually speak good words over our calling and our future.

It is also important that we do not talk too much while we are in our waiting period. Sometimes God shows us personal things and if we talk too much about them, we may lose the blessing that God wanted to give us. Mary, the mother of Jesus is a good example. The angel appeared to her and gave her the promise about Jesus. She did not go out and tell everyone what the angel said, not even to Joseph her husband, but kept this promise in her heart. That is why God chose her, because He could trust her! The Bible says in James 1:19 that we should be “quick to hear and slow to speak.” Therefore, our words can affect our waiting periods. One of the bests things we can do while in a waiting period is to continually speak positive, faith filled words about our situation and our future.

Sixthly, it is important to rejoice during the waiting period:

We read in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.” King David said in Psalm 34:1, “His praise shall be continually in mouth.” In Habakkuk 3:18-19, we read, “Though the fig tree does not blossom, and there is no fruit on the vines; the labor of the olive fails, and the fields yield no meat; though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there are no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”  Our rejoicing is a decision of the will and does not depend on our circumstances. On the other hand, if we rejoice in the Lord, then the fig trees may blossom again, the flocks may come back to the fold we may again experience God’s blessing. Our rejoicing should not be controlled by our circumstances but our rejoicing can change our circumstances!

In Acts 16:25-26 we read how Paul and Silas decided to rejoice and sing praises in prison. As a result of their rejoicing, God sent an earthquake and delivered them and their waiting period came to an end. Rejoicing is the one of the quickest routes through the waiting period! We also read how Abraham “did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God; knowing that He who promised is able to bring it to pass.” (Romans 4:20-21) During his waiting period, he rejoiced and gave glory to God and received God’s promise.


We may not understand our journey through life, but God will always have a good ending for us. The Bible says in Romans 8:28, “That God works all thing together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Furthermore it says in Jeremiah. 29:1,that God wants to give us “a future and a hope.” Therefore, we should not see the waiting period as something negative but an opportunity for God to do something wonderful in us and for us. The waiting period can be one of the most profitable and blessed time of our lives.  Amen