How to Wait Well


Hold up your hand if you like waiting.

Although I can’t see your hands through the computer screen, I would venture that no one raised her hand.

We don’t jump at the chance to be put on hold when we call the doctor’s office.  We don’t purposely choose the longest line at the grocery store (although it always seems that I end up in the slowest one no matter what).

We don’t do cartwheels when we have been fervently praying for something for weeks, months, or even years, and the only answer we hear from heaven is…..wait.

I hate the word wait. It’s a four-letter word that should be banned. I get impatient. I despise delays.

Recently I’ve been studying the life of Elizabeth. This woman had a very long wait for her most important role in life. Luke 1:5-7 tells us:

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Elizabeth and Zechariah were waiting and waiting for a baby. But now they were both “advanced in years” and all hope of having a child had faded.

While I was thinking about Elizabeth’s long wait, I observed a pattern in Scripture. When I look in the Bible, I see that God often made His children wait for an answer to prayer.

And when I zoom in a little closer, I see that often God didn’t work out the answer to a problem right away because the delay made the answer that much more miraculous. The birth of Isaac was that much more remarkable because he was born to a ninety-year-old mother. Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt was even more amazing after spending years in prison. The Israelites’ possession of the Promised Land was more astounding after being enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, than if Jacob’s descendants had slowly taken over the region.

And now God drew attention to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby through a long delay. Because Elizabeth gave birth when she was “well advanced in years,” it seemed obvious that this child was going to be special.

Not only would the baby John be a significant addition to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s family, he would be important to the whole nation of Israel—because He would prepare the people for the coming of the Savior.

When God makes us wait, it is often because He wants to do something bigger in our lives—something even bigger than what we prayed for. And if I remember this, my waiting is a little less difficult if I expect God to answer my prayers in a bigger way than I can imagine.

Now this doesn’t always mean that the answer to the prayer—when it finally comes—will look spectacular to the world around us. It might not always be recognized as a miracle by the people in our lives.

Sometimes the spectacular—the miraculous—is what happens in our hearts. The bigger thing that God wants to do is to transform us. Maybe the prayer is never answered the way you would like, but God gives you a peace and a joy that can only be explained by the power of His Spirit.

So when you are waiting for that new job, or a diagnosis for your child’s illness, or for a relationship to be healed, remember that even in the waiting we can be connected to God when we trust His goodness and expect Him to act in a way that is best for us.

We can become more connected to God by waiting if we stop fighting the pause in our plans and expect the delay to accomplish something wonderful in God’s purpose for our lives.

Question: What are you waiting for right now? How can I pray for you?



  1. This is such a relevant reminder, Sharla. Elizabeth’s life was part of a recent study I participated in also, and although we didn’t focus on the waiting, we did discuss God’s plans and how we fit into them. I’ve learned (most of the time) to turn to God in my head – either thanking Him for blessings or praying for someone around me – when in a waiting situation because I am very impatient, and I know better than to ask for patience! :)