On Friday, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb did something many of us have been desperately waiting for. He announced a five phase plan to slowly and safely get our state “back on track”.
Only time will tell whether or not this plan (especially the targeted dates) will come to fruition. One can easily be forgiven for hesitating to take full advantage of all our freshly restored freedoms right away. Regardless of what you think of the proposed plan right now – whether you think it’s too much too soon, or not enough fast enough – I assume that all of us would be thrilled if it actually works. In that light, we should all take responsibility in playing our parts to help this plan come together smoothly. We should continue to listen to wise, experienced, trusted resources in the medical field. We should also be praying that any further damage COVID-19 could still bring about would be limited.
But we can also admit that we’re all ready for something different. We understand that things can’t “go back to normal” as if the coronavirus never happened; but at this point, we’ll take just about anything better than the past two months. We’re tired of the numbers of tests, positive cases, and deaths. We’re tired of the economic hardships so many have experienced. We’re tired of being on edge at the grocery store. We’re tired of Zoom calls. We’re tired of being apart from each other. Simply put, we’re tired of waiting for this to end.
However, waiting is one of the most common experiences for God’s people in the Bible.
In Genesis, Abraham and Sarah had to wait for God to fulfill his promise to give them a child (and caused themselves trouble when they got tired of waiting and tried to enact the promise through their own means). In Exodus, the Israelites waited, and waited, and waited some more before God finally delivered them from Egyptian slavery. In Numbers, God’s people failed to trust in God’s power to give them the Promised Land – and as a result, had to wait another 40 years before they could enter. David waited for God to depose King Saul and give him the throne that was already rightfully his. Later in the Old Testament, the Israelites’ sin led them to exile in foreign lands – and they had to wait decades before God graciously allowed them to return home. Finally, the prophets spoke joyfully and longingly of the day when God would send the Messiah to redeem his people once and for all – but the wait would last hundreds more years.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ – the long-awaited Messiah – finally arrives! He proves himself to be both fully God and fully man, lives a perfect life, dies a sacrificial death on the cross for the sins of all who believe in him, rises bodily from the dead, and ascends to God’s right hand.
The wait is over; right?!? Well…not exactly. After Jesus’s ascension, there’s more waiting.
In fact, to this day, like the very authors God inspired to write the New Testament, we’re still waiting for Jesus to return in power and glory. We’re still waiting to Jesus to come as King and Judge – casting down Satan, sin, and death permanently. We’re still waiting for Jesus to establish God’s kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven”. We’re still waiting for God to fulfill his promise.
Of course, in the meantime, God has given us plenty to do. He’s given us the Great Commission to fulfill. He’s given us brothers and sisters to serve in the Church. He’s given us the Bible to read, understand, and prize. He’s given us the call to grow in holiness by the Holy Spirit’s power. We’re still waiting; but that doesn’t mean we’re twiddling our thumbs.
But as we attend to these good, God-given tasks, we have to deal with the ongoing effects of sin. There is still violence, suffering, injustice, and evil all around. Though Satan’s final defeat is already written in stone, he still has a way of causing havoc. To this day, the world in which we live is fallen; at times, it’s downright hostile to God and his people. This makes waiting that much more challenging; really, it makes waiting for Christ’s return impossible if we’re relying on our own strength.
Waiting in general is difficult – even in the most trivial of circumstances. We get tired of waiting on slow service at a restaurant. We get tired of waiting for the repairman to come within the absurdly broad window of time he gave us. We get tired of waiting for the important package to be delivered. I’m tired of waiting for my tax refund to arrive. Waiting is hard; there may even be times when you shouldn’t wait any longer, and move on to something else.
But waiting on God to fulfill his promises is never in vain. He always comes through (even if it’s not within our preferred time frame). He is always trustworthy. God’s track record of keeping his word is spotless.
We’ve been waiting weeks to see even the slightest glimmer of light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Who knows; maybe everything about the governor’s plan will fall perfectly into place, and our wait will be over long before the July 4 goal. Or for all we know, our attempts to “reopen” could be a disaster, and we could end up right back where we started, waiting once again. (Just imagining this possibility might fill you with dread.)
But God’s people – knowing how reliable God is in fulfilling his promises, knowing the history of those who waited before us and were not disappointed, and knowing the glories of what we’re looking forward to – ought to be good at waiting.
So, let’s ask God to give us faith. Let’s ask God to give us patience. Let’s ask God to give us endurance. Let’s ask God to sustain us as we wait for him to act in his good timing. If he can strengthen us to wait for Jesus’s return, he can also strengthen us to wait for church services to resume, restaurants to open, arenas to be filled, and a decent haircut.
If our wait comes to an end soon, may we thank God. And if it doesn’t, may we trust God to help us.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14)