For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. Psalm 90:4 (RSV)
What is the socially acceptable time to wait? In college, in the event the professor was delayed, we were instructed to wait for fifteen minutes before leaving. If you go to a restaurant, you most likely can expect to wait before being seated. The time wait is generally dependent on time of day, the popularity of the restaurant and the quality of the food. Regardless of “acceptability”, we still, at one time or another, are required to wait.
One of the biggest frustrations for individuals living in the 21st century is waiting. Americans spend roughly 37 billion hours each year waiting in line. The dominant cost of waiting is an emotional one: stress, boredom, that nagging sensation that one’s life is slipping away.
There are varying leveling of “waiting tolerance” based on generational differences, expectations, and the attraction of the desired outcome.
Baby Boomers, who tend to be more intentional in planning, are fairly comfortable with waiting based on the value of the outcome—waiting is tied to worth. This is seen in their loyalty to career/employers and investment in relationship building.
For Generation X and Y, waiting is generally acceptable when it is connected to the availability of the desired item, vis-à-vis waiting for the latest IPhone or designer tennis shoe.
For Generation Z, born into a world that screams “instant gratification”, waiting is viewed as a negative—denoting that something is “broken” or “wrong” therefore interfering with receipt of their desired outcome.
All generations hate to wait—the difference lies in “what” or “who” is causing the delay—that even includes God.
What is the “spiritually” acceptable time to wait?
Are the rules different?
If we are waiting for God—His intervention or direction—let me answer the second question first. Yes, the “rules” are different because God is spirit—everlasting, eternal and immortal (John 4:24).
God exists not in the confines of human time but in eternity where there is no time (Is. 57:15). Time simply put is duration. Our earthly time pieces mark change in duration that indicate the passage of time. Eternity, in contrast, expresses the concept of something that has no end and/or no beginning. God has no beginning or end. He is outside the realm of time (2 Pet. 3:8).
In Psalm 90:4, Moses used a simple yet profound analogy in describing the timelessness of God: “For a thousand years in Your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” A second is no different from an eon; a billion years pass like seconds to the eternal God.
In answer to the second question,“What is the “spiritually” acceptable time to wait?”
My answer is simple—as long as God tells you to wait. The thing about waiting for God is that there is no set or agreed upon time when an answer might be forthcoming. You can move ahead of God, but you risk missing or delaying the desired purpose God has for your life (Eph. 2:10).
Waiting for God is where our faith comes into play. We must believe and trust that God loves us and will always do what is best for us. What we see as a delay is really God’s “best timing” for our life. What makes the waiting for God “acceptable” (I struggle for a better word) is that God is always worth the wait (Lam. 3:26). Next week we’ll spend time exploring why we “hate to wait.”