Quite often waiting is very difficult. In our instant culture, most of the time we don’t even like waiting one week for a package to come in the mail; we get impatient if our internet is a tiny bit slower than usual or if our data connection isn’t lightning fast. Waiting can be frustrating!
When it comes to the Christian faith there is a lot of waiting involved. God’s people are already justified, but not yet fully sanctified. We have been saved, but we don’t yet have full and complete deliverance. We have the promise of eternal life but don’t yet experience it. God promised that he will glorify all of his people, but that’s something for which we still wait. Christ will come again to make all things new, but we don’t know when. Therefore we wait and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!” Sometimes in the Christian life, waiting is hard and we get impatient. We even ask: “Why does God make us wait so long?”
William Gurnall answered this question with another question:
Why does God make any promise at all to his creatures? This may well be asked, considering that God is free from owing any kindness to his creatures; till, by the mere good pleasure of his will he put himself into covenant bonds, and made himself, by his promise, a debtor to his elect. This shows that the former question is flippant and over-bold, as if some great rich man should make a poor beggar that is a stranger to him his heir, and when he tells him this, the poor man asks, ‘But why should I wait so long for it?’
Truly, any time is too soon for him to receive a mercy from God that thinks God’s time in sending it is too late.
Gurnall goes on to say that impatience in waiting for God’s promises to come true arises from our selfishness since we prefer our own contentment and satisfaction before God’s glory. Impatience also arises from ingratitude and forgetfulness (Ps. 106.13).
To combat spiritual impatience, we need to pray for more hope and patience. Here’s Gurnall again:
“Patience is the back on which the Christian’s burdens are carried, and hope is the pillow between the back and the burden, to make it sit easy.”
God wasn’t obligated to make any good promises to sinners like us. But in his sovereign and free mercy, he did promise salvation and all the blessings that go with it. Therefore, it’s fitting and right to be patient and to say that his timing is best. And we put on “the hope of salvation as a helmet,” knowing he will keep his promise (1 Thes. 5:8)! “And this is what he promised us – eternal life” (1 John 2:25 NIV).
The above-edited quote by William Gurnall is found in volume 2 of The Christian in Complete Armor, p. 151-2.