. Hurry up and wait




The reason for my sermon today is a reaction to some of the tuff circumstances that many of our people have been facing this past year, and the circumstances some are still facing.


I went to see Vanessa this week again, and ministered to a lady who has all the reason to be despondent. It is months now that she is in bed with pain, and nobody can blame her that her joy had been stolen. We all remember how Clive was waiting all year for his hip operation. It was a frustrating year for Clive who was in incredible pain. Day after day it seemed that the operation was never going to happen. There are others who are still going through trials of various kinds. Now sometimes trials can be brought upon us by ourselves either due to sin or irresponsibility or plain stupidity. Other times it comes from our enemies – including Satan, and yet at other times it just simply comes from nowhere or maybe even from God. Remember the trials that Job faced. While Satan was central in the deal, it was initiated by God, and came by the hands of the Chaldeans as well as natural acts which we call the Acts of God.


So in seeking Biblical answers I thought of speaking on Isaiah 40:31 (ESV) 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint,” or maybe Habakkuk 2:2-5 (ESV) 2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

I looked at what John Piper did with this verse and he had a very interesting title for his sermon on Habakkuk which is “God is never late—but He sure is slow.” Well, then the only answer is the title of my sermon today, “Hurry up and Wait’, which you can see in both texts. However, I am not going to preach on either of the two but want to take us to a simple experience of the disciples of Jesus Christ which we read in Matthew 8 and to point out a few lessons there.

Matthew 8:23-27 (ESV) “23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marvelled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

The message of Isaiah is ‘wait’, the message of Habakkuk is ‘wait’ and the message of Matthew 8 is ‘wait’. But we all grew up with the idea that God’s promises are “100-percent-guaranteed lifetime-warranty, you-must-be-completely-satisfied-or-your money-back, over-night delivery promises.” Don’t we sometimes just wish that God has an overnight service delivery for Christians, as long as we get our prayer in before 15:30 in the afternoon? The name it and claim it guys sure seem to teach that.


Now it is true that sometimes God does answer our prayers and deals with our circumstances faster that your high speed ADSL link on your computer. But other times the line just seems so slow, or we feel that Eskom has stolen our power again.


In Matthew 8 we see immediate answers to prayer:


Look at the story of a leper. Matthew 8:1-3 (ESV) 1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Then we see the story of the Centurion who has a servant that was sick, and he asked Jesus to heal him. Now fast forward to verse 13 and what do we see? Matthew 8:13 (ESV) 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.”

Even mother in laws can be healed immediately; even though some son-in-laws believe they are still a pain. Matthew 8:14-15 (ESV) 14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him."

So there are these instant healings, these instant answers to prayer and instant answers to faith. But that is not always the case which is what we see in the story of the disciples in the boat, and that is also the message of Habakkuk.


I remember being on the Sea of Galilee when a storm was brewing and we had to get off. The disciples were not afraid for nothing. These were seasoned fishermen who spent most of their lives on the Sea and understood its quirks. The lake is 230 meters below sea level surrounded by hills. So, when warm air of the day cools and rushes down the ravines it creates a whirlpool effect. A clear, calm night can suddenly turn into a violent storm. And so they face this storm and what is Jesus doing? He is fast asleep. Is that not how we often feel? Here I am facing my storm and Jesus is asleep.

It is the most natural thing in our lives to want to set a deadline for God’s answer for me, but sadly God more than often ignores it! Why? I guess there are many reasons, but let me give you four.

Firstly, to increase our faith

“Look at Matthew 8:26-27 (ESV) 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marvelled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

I believe that there is a reason why all these other instant healing stories were told before this one. It shows us that these big miracles do not necessarily build our faith. Let me give you two on my top 10 charts. Remember the app. 20000 people who were fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish. You could not wish for a greater miracle. The very next day they are back at Jesus, but not to worship Him, but to get their bellies filled. Let me give you a super miracle. Remember Moses and the Israelites going through the Red Sea, and very soon after that they are dancing around the golden calf.

Faith does not always grow on the back of miracles; it is normally there before the miracles often in small dosages and it then more than often grows during between human deadlines and heavenly deliverance.

We see a situation like this in chapter 9 from verse 18-25. Jairus came to Jesus in faith; he believed that the Lord could heal his daughter who had died. She was as dead as can be, the flute players that are hired and the professional mourners were all there, but Jesus raised her up. I am sure that in the circumstances the faith of all those around was increased. The very presence of Christ should guarantee that even if He does not raise her up, but He did. Hopefully, the faith of the temple ruler and the professional mourners was increased.

Yet we tend to be, like the disciples, people of "little faith." We are often like little babies who cry for milk. They see mommy fixing the formula or unbuttoning her blouse, and based on experience they should stop crying, but yet they cry until that bottle or breast goes in the mouth. But real faith grows between the deadline and the deliverance. We even see this in another storm where the Lord allowed Peter to walk on the water, Notice that the disciples' faith is tested again in a boat, in a storm. Matthew 14:30-33 (ESV) 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Notice the difference this time! Instead of "What kind of man is this?” as we see in our text for today, this time they say: "Truly you are the Son of God". God usually ignores our human deadlines to increase our faith. There is a second reason.

Secondly, to increase our vision

In these two stories or two experiences of the disciples in storms their vision of Christ changed from "Who is this man?" to "You are the Son of God." They now had a vision of His power and His providence and the way God works with His children. God has an abundance of Christian formula or baby milk for us; we need to learn to trust.

God is described as a heavenly father, not a vending machine that we insert a prayer and product comes out. Like any good parent, He doesn't give His children everything they want when they want it. It's helped my vision of God to refer to Him as Father, rather than Lord. Lord gives the view that He is in control (and He is) and can do anything we ask. Father gives the view of a God who is not only in control but who knows best what His children need.

Sometimes He puts His children in the learning schools of life and sometimes it is painful. James 1:2-4 (ESV) 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” So, God uses these times of waiting to increase our faith and our vision. There is a third reason.

Thirdly, to increase our testimony

After Jarius' daughter is raised from the dead, Matthew 9:26 (ESV) says: 26 And the report of this went through all that district.” That phrase is repeated over and over through the accounts of Jesus' miracles.

Something that does not impress me is the stories these TV evangelists concoct of health and wealth and just how they got it. I shared with you recently about the poster of this pastor and his wife inviting people to their church. He stands with his hands around her and both hands are filled with the biggest gold rings, with one aim in mind and that is ‘join us and you will have bling’. What does impress me are the testimonies of believers going through absolute defeat but they come out victorious: maybe not with health and wealth, but they have come out with the assurance of Christ's presence every step. To me, that's a great testimony!

I shared this song with you a while ago in another sermon, but let me read you the words again form the song of Scott Wesley Brown "When Answers Aren't Enough There Is Jesus"

You have faced mountains of desperation.
You have climbed, you have fought, you have won.
But this valley that lies coldly before you,
Casts a shadow you cannot overcome.

Just when you thought you had it all together.
You knew every verse to get you through.
But this time all the sorrow broke more than just your heart.
And reciting all those verses just won't do.

When answers aren't enough, there is Jesus.
He is more than just an answer to your prayer.
And your heart will find a safe and peaceful refuge.
When answers aren't enough, He is there.

Instead of asking why did it happen?
Think of where it can lead you from here.
And as your pain is slowly easing,
You can find a greater reason to live your life triumphant through the tears.


God usually ignores our human deadlines to increase our faith and our vision and our testimony. Finally, God also ignores our human deadlines . . .

Fourthly,  to increase our compassion

One reason for God's incredible slowness is His incredible love: Listen to what Peter says and remember he was in the boat when Jesus slept; he was the one walking on water. 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Do you realise that of greater importance than your physical healing or your financial provision is your soul. At times God can keep somebody down and down and down, until there is a true breaking to repentance and salvation, and then He can still keep you down to prove if it is there or not. We all know that many people turn to the Lord just to get their needs taken care of.

So salvation is at stake, but also at stake is the fact that we through trials learn what it is to be more compassionate with others. As Christians we can be so judgmental of others. We see people struggling with sin and dealing with issues, and because I am at a good place now, I look at them in arrogance and filled with disgust. We forget where we were. We forget that we were in a place between human deadlines and divine deliverance. We forget that we were people in sin, people who lacked faith, people who struggled in our own way. Listen to Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 (ESV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.”

Part of the delay, then, is God's divine love that is so much greater than our human desires. And I think we become more compassionate after we have been through that time between human deadlines and divine deliverance. My compassion for people who are unemployed increased last year when I lost my employment. Our compassion for people with children born with defects increased when our eldest was born with a cleft lip and pallet and so I can go on and on…..

So church family, let’s learn these simple truths over this Christmas period as we consider God and our deadlines and realise that He ignores our human deadlines to increase our compassion, as well as our faith, our vision of Him, and our testimony. God is never later, but He sure is slow, so hurry up and wait!


Logos Community Church:- 16 December 2012