Can You Wait?
PATIENCE is not the possession of children. This is made strikingly evident by the ear-splitting howls young children send up when they must wait for something they want. For them there can be no waiting. When they want something they must have it, not next year, or next month, or next week, but right now.
Children live for the present, not for the future. This is the difference between an immature outlook on life and a mature one. A mature adult will plan for the future and is willing to wait patiently until his plans are realized. But not so with children. They do not think in terms of the many years of living ahead of them.
It seems difficult for a young mind to understand that time does not stand still. It moves on at an unchanging pace. What is far ahead in the stream of time will eventually arrive. The mature person knows this and will wait for it, but the immature will not.
Many adults are like children. They never learn to wait. When they want something they must have it at once, not later. If they are told about something to come a number of years in the future, they are not interested. Like children they suffer from the illusion that what is in the future will never arrive. They have not learned to wait.
Their actions reveal this immature trait in many ways. They are the ones who crowd in front of others to avoid waiting in line. They are the ones who will risk their lives by passing slow-moving trucks instead of patiently waiting for a clear view of the highway. They are the ones who will exhaust the earth’s natural resources for immediate profit instead of trying to make them last. Such people can neither value the things they get nor experience the joy of getting something after waiting.
Children are good examples of this. The child that is given what it demands appreciates nothing it receives. But let a child wait for a toy and perhaps even be required to do chores for it; he will think more of it when he gets it. The same is true with a young boy who works and saves for a bicycle. He will find more joy in it, think more of it and take better care of it than the boy who gets a bicycle with no effort on his part and without having to wait.
The principle that waiting enhances the value of something can be applied to marriage. Those persons who have a long engagement are more likely to have a happier marriage than those who do not. Marriage will mean more to them. How can a couple who have been acquainted with each other for only a few hours, a few days or even a few months have the same regard for their marriage as the couple that have known each other at least a year or two?
Hasty marriages are just another way in which some adults manifest their immaturity. They believe a decision to marry must be carried out at once. They even hate to wait the few days required by law in some places. But as a child quickly loses interest in the toy it cried for, so do these people lose interest in the marriage they jumped into. More often than not they soon want a divorce.
A DIVINE REQUIREMENT
It may seem strange to say that waiting is a divine requirement, but yet it is. For ages God has required humans to wait. In the days of Noah He promised the destruction of that wicked world 120 years in advance. Even though that promised day seemed a long way off Noah waited for it. Time was not standing still. It continued to move at its unchanging pace, and finally the fateful day arrived.
After the Flood time continued to move on, with many other occasions arising when God required people to wait for something. Abraham was required to wait until he was one hundred years old before being blessed with a son from his wife Sarah. Abraham’s seed had to wait over four hundred years before receiving the land promised by God. After their land was desolated the Israelites had to wait seventy years before receiving their promised return to Jerusalem. And after the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls the people had to wait 483 years for the coming of the Messiah. But these are only a few of many instances in which God required men to wait for what he had promised. He knew that waiting is beneficial for man.
There are divine promises that we today are expected to wait for. Some of them are the coming destruction of the present world or system of things, the righteous rule of earth by God’s kingdom, eternal peace, a paradise earth, the resurrecting of the dead and the gift of eternal life. These are dependable promises that will be fulfilled at God’s appointed time in his righteous new world. To those who think God slow his Word states: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance. Yet Jehovah’s day will come.” (2 Pet. 3:9, 10, 13) By waiting our integrity and trust in God is tested, our desire is increased, our need is more firmly impressed upon us.
The end of the present system of things that was once far off in the stream of time has now drawn near. We are now in its last days. This generation will see its destruction at the battle of Armageddon. God’s long-promised new world will then be ushered in. The blessings that world will bring are worth waiting for.
What about you? Can you wait? Can you “quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah,” as Lamentations 3:26 (AS) tells us? Can you “rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him,” as Psalm 37:7 (AS) admonishes us? Or do you have the mark of immaturity by being unable to wait for what God has promised? The apostle Paul recommends endurance in waiting for these things we hope for. (Rom. 8:25) Can you show that endurance? There has been no other time in history when the ability to wait has meant more than it does today. Your very life depends upon it.