The announcement of salvation - For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11, ESV) - preceded the occasion of salvation - death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-4) - by more than thirty years. Thirty years is a wide gap.
And the wider the gap between announcement and occasion for any promise, the more difficult it is to wait. Consider the following:
You see a new restaurant with an “Opening Soon” sign. You are eager to try it out. Six months later and still not open, do you still care to go?.
Your friends say they’ll have you over. They just need to get a few things shored up around the house. After a few months, they reiterate their desire to have you over, but tell you how busy it is. “Soon,” they say. “We’ll have you over soon.” More than a year has gone by, but you still haven’t braved their front door. Do you ever expect to go over?
You order a new rug from a website. The company tells you shipping times range from 10-14 business days. Day ten arrives, and you feel excited. No package, but maybe tomorrow. Nothing the next day or day afterward. You are at the last day in the delivery range. You begin to question the company or shipping service. Do you make a few phone calls to track down your rug?
Your kids ask you to play Legos. You say you’ll come play in a few minutes. You’re working on a project in the basement. Minutes turns into an hour. Disappointed, your kids move to another activity.
A man and woman talk of marriage. They love one another. They are committed to one another. He says he’ll propose shortly; they just need to save a little more money. Two years later, he is still saving. Disappointed, she breaks the engagement.
Your husband said he would be home at six. It is six-fifteen. He’s often late. I heard a train. He probably got stopped. He usually calls or texts. He didn’t today. It’s six-thirty. Dinner is ready. He never misses dinner. Do you wonder if he's dead?
You pray to God for a specific breakthrough. You’ve asked him before, but now you’ve redoubled your efforts. You have other people praying with you. Your prayers are serious. Weeks pass; no response. Months pass; no response. Years pass; no response. How do you feel? Do you keep praying?
What makes waiting so difficult are these gaps. The wider the gap between announcement and occasion (promise and fulfillment), the greater the likelihood of filling these gaps with negative thoughts: doubt, suspicion, distrust, despair, numbness, distraction, self-protection, revenge.
Much of your response derives from the relationship you have with the person. How much time or interaction do you have with the person or company? What patterns of behavior have you witnessed? How trustworthy has she been in the time you have known her? How trustworthy recently?
Every time we face a delay, we intuitively work through these kinds of questions. Consciously or unconsciously, we bring to these waiting gaps trust resulting in patience or doubt resulting in restlessness.