One of the most difficult things to do at times is "nothing". We are people of action and if things do not happen, we make them happen.

Jacob, the son of Isaac, was like that. He had been promised a blessing by the Lord when he was born but got impatient as a young man and took matters into his own hands and tricked his older brother and his father into giving him the blessing. Because of this he had to run away from home and suffered a lifetime of anxiety over the matter. His life would have been so different if he had learned early on to wait upon the Lord.

In Genesis 46:1-4 we see Jacob, as an old man having learned this lesson, appeal to God in making an important decision concerning a long trip to Egypt to see his long lost son Joseph.

So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here I am." 3 He said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. 4 I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.
- Genesis 46:1-4

When he was young, God had not allowed Jacob to leave Canaan but he ran away for fear of his brother. Now that he was older and wiser, Jacob waited on the Lord to tell him what he should do concerning this departure. He had not seen his son in over ten years, thinking him dead and now his son was calling to him to come, but Jacob waited on the Lord before he left the land.

Note that God rewards Jacob for his patience and faith by blessing his trip and revealing to him the future of his family. Jacob could now go in peace and security knowing that God was with him.

As we see in the elder Jacob's experience, waiting on the Lord is a virtue that takes a lifetime of trying to acquire. But once you learn there are many benefits:

1. Avoid costly mistakes

God's way, God's plan, God's purpose for your life is always the best and most profitable for you. When we go our own way, or neglect to consult or wait for the Lord to lead us, we end up making poor choices or we do not fulfill our true potential in Christ.

2. Develop a godly character

Waiting on the Lord is difficult; it requires faith, perseverance, and self-control just to wait! Sometimes it takes greater strength and courage to do nothing and stay where you are, in waiting on the Lord than just jumping ahead impatiently.

3. Go with God's approval

Better one step in the Lord than 10,000 miles on my own. If you wait and go with the Lord, you also go with His approval and resources and know, like Jacob, that you will succeed.

As I said before, waiting upon the Lord is probably one of the hardest things to learn how to do as a Christian. If you have failed at this; if you have continually run ahead without consulting Him; if you are always bored and restless, now would be a good time to repent and resolve that in the future you will begin to wait upon the Lord to direct your ways.

Of course when it comes to confessing Christ, repenting of your sins and being baptized there should be no waiting or hesitation.

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is the most patient person you know? Give an example of this virtue in their lives.
  2. Describe the longest / shortest time that you had to wait on God for an answer to prayer.
  3. In your opinion, why does God make people wait for answers to prayer?
  4. Which Bible character do you relate to the most? Why?
  5. What would you say to encourage a person who has waited a long time for God to respond to their prayers but have yet to receive an answer?

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Gerry Bell, Elder,
Saskatoon, Canada - Gravelbourg Church of Christ