Happy to Wait for Jehovah
HAVE you ever eaten unripe fruit? No doubt, you were disappointed with the taste. Fruit takes time to ripen, and waiting for that to happen is certainly worthwhile. There are other circumstances under which it is rewarding to wait. “Good it is that one should wait, even silently, for the salvation of Jehovah,” says the Bible. (Lamentations 3:26; Titus 2:13) In what ways must Christians wait for Jehovah? How can we benefit from waiting for him?
Waiting for God—What Does It Involve?
As Christians, we are “awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” We look forward to relief when he causes the “destruction of the ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7, 12) Jehovah himself is eager to end all evil, but he is exercising restraint so as to bring about the salvation of Christians in a way that will glorify his name. The Bible says: “God, although having the will to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction, in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy.” (Romans 9:22, 23) Just as he did in Noah’s day, Jehovah knows the right time to save his people today. (1 Peter 3:20) Thus, waiting for God involves waiting for his time to act.
As we await Jehovah’s day, we may at times be upset to see the moral standards of the world around us sink ever lower. At such moments, it is good to consider the words of God’s prophet Micah, who wrote: “The loyal one has perished from the earth, and among mankind there is no upright one.” Then he added: “As for me, it is for Jehovah that I shall keep on the lookout. I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation.” (Micah 7:2, 7) What is the “waiting attitude” that we should cultivate? Since having to wait is often frustrating, how can we find joy while waiting for God?
Happy While Waiting
We can learn the right attitude from Jehovah. He has never ceased being “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) He is happy while he waits because he continues working toward the fulfillment of his purpose to uplift people who love him to the perfection that he intended for humans when he created them. (Romans 5:12; 6:23) From his work, he sees pleasing results—millions of people have been attracted to true worship. Jesus said: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” (John 5:17) Doing things for others is fundamental to being happy. (Acts 20:35) Similarly, true Christians are not waiting idly. Rather, they keep working to help others learn of God’s purpose for mankind.
Faithful people have always been content to praise God while waiting for his time to act. Take as an example the psalmist David. David was persecuted by his king, betrayed by a close companion, and turned upon by his son. In each of these circumstances, could David be happy as he waited for relief to come in Jehovah’s due time? Psalm 71, evidently written by David, says: “As for me, I shall wait constantly, and I will add to all your praise. My own mouth will recount your righteousness, all day long your salvation.” (Psalm 71:14, 15) Rather than waiting in frustration, David expressed joy because he was busy praising Jehovah and strengthening others in true worship.—Psalm 71:23.
Waiting for Jehovah is not exasperating like waiting for a delayed bus. It is more like the joyful waiting of parents as their child develops into a grown-up they can be proud of. The years are filled with activity—training, instruction, and discipline—all aimed at achieving the desired result. Similarly, we who wait for Jehovah find happiness in helping others draw close to God. We too want to gain God’s approval and, ultimately, salvation.
Not Giving Up Hope
Waiting for Jehovah implies continuing to love and serve him without giving up hope. This can be challenging. Many of God’s servants today live in societies where people sneer at anyone leading a life based on faith in God’s promises. Consider, though, the example of faithful Israelites who kept their hope alive during the 70-year exile in Babylon. What helped them to do so? No doubt, reading the psalms strengthened them. One encouraging psalm that may have been written by that time says: “For his word I have waited. My soul has waited for Jehovah more than watchmen for the morning, watching for the morning. Let Israel keep waiting for Jehovah.”—Psalm 130:5-7.
The Jews who kept their hope alive by reading and speaking about it were rewarded when Babylon finally fell to invaders. Thousands of faithful Jews quickly headed for Jerusalem. Concerning that time, it is written: “When Jehovah gathered back the captive ones of Zion, . . . our mouth came to be filled with laughter.” (Psalm 126:1, 2) Those Jews did not give up, but they continued nourishing their faith. And they never gave up singing Jehovah’s praise.
In the same way, true Christians who wait for God during “the conclusion of the system of things” make constant efforts to keep their faith alive. They study God’s Word, encourage one another, and keep praising Jehovah by preaching the good news of his Kingdom.—Matthew 24:3, 14.
Waiting to Benefit From Discipline
God’s prophet Jeremiah wrote: “Good it is that one should wait, even silently, for the salvation of Jehovah.” (Lamentations 3:26) Jeremiah meant that it would be good for God’s people not to complain about the way Jehovah had disciplined them when he allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed. Rather, they should benefit from the experience by contemplating their disobedience and their need for a change of attitude.—Lamentations 3:40, 42.
The way discipline from Jehovah benefits us might be likened to the way fruit grows to maturity. Concerning discipline from God, the Bible says: “To those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11) Just as fruit needs time to ripen, so time is needed for us to change our attitudes in response to the training that God provides. For example, if misconduct on our part should cause us to lose some privilege in the congregation, our willingness to wait for God will prevent us from getting discouraged and giving up. In such circumstances, the inspired words of David are encouraging: “Being under [God’s] anger is for a moment, being under his goodwill is for a lifetime. In the evening weeping may take up lodging, but in the morning there is a joyful cry.” (Psalm 30:5) If we cultivate a waiting attitude and apply the counsel we receive from God’s Word and organization, our time for “a joyful cry” will come.
Growing to Maturity Takes Time
If you are young or recently baptized, you may be eager to assume some responsibilities in the Christian congregation. But it takes time to develop the spiritual maturity needed to shoulder such responsibilities. Therefore, take advantage of your early years to grow as a spiritual person. For example, youth is a good time to read the entire Bible, to develop Christian qualities, and to learn the art of making disciples. (Ecclesiastes 12:1) If you humbly display a waiting attitude, Jehovah’s time for you to have more responsibility will come.
The disciple-making work also requires patience. Just as the farmer must continue watering until God makes the seed grow, so it is with the work of making disciples. (1 Corinthians 3:7; James 5:7) Cultivating faith and appreciation for Jehovah in the hearts of others takes months or even years of patient Bible study. Waiting for Jehovah involves persevering, even if at first, students do not respond to what they learn. If they at least show some appreciation, that may be a sign that they are responding to Jehovah’s spirit. With patience, you may have the joy of seeing Jehovah make your student grow into a disciple of Christ.—Matthew 28:20.
Expressing Love by Waiting
As an example of how waiting can be an expression of love and confidence, consider the situation of an elderly grandmother who lives in a desert region of the Andes, in South America. She and a spiritual sister are the only Witnesses of Jehovah in their village. Can you imagine how eagerly they wait for the visit of fellow Christians? Once, a traveling overseer was on his way to make his first visit to them when he got lost. He had to retrace his steps and was delayed several hours. It was long past midnight when he finally caught sight of the village in the distance. Since there was no electricity in the area, he was surprised to see a light shining. How happy he was when he finally arrived at the entrance to the village and saw that the light came from an oil lamp held aloft by the grandmother! She was certain that he would come, so she was waiting.
With similar patience, we are happy to wait for Jehovah. We are certain that he will keep his promises. And like that traveling overseer, we appreciate those who lovingly wait for us. It is not surprising, therefore, that God appreciates those who wait for him. The Bible says: “Jehovah is finding pleasure . . . in those waiting for his loving-kindness.”—Psalm 147:11.
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People who are busy praising God find joy in waiting for Jehovah