Waiting patiently can be one of the hardest things to do, especially when we want something right now. Throughout the Bible, we see examples of characters who had to wait – sometimes many years – for God’s promise to come true.
Their stories teach us the importance of patience, endurance and trusting in God’s perfect timing.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Some key biblical figures who exemplified patience as they waited for God’s promises include Abraham, Joseph, David, Job and Simeon. Their lives illustrate how we should wait faithfully and hopefully despite difficult circumstances.
In this comprehensive article, we will explore the stories of 5 important bible characters who waited patiently for God’s plan to unfold in their lives. We’ll look at how long they waited, the circumstances they endured, and what we can learn from their examples today about waiting on the Lord.
Abraham – Waiting for the Promised Son
The Promise Given by God
In Genesis 12, God called Abraham (at that time his name was Abram) to leave his country and his relatives and go to a land that God would show him. God made an amazing promise to Abraham – that He would make Abraham into a great nation, bless him abundantly, make his name great, and that through his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
At this time, Abraham was already around 75 years old and he and his wife Sarah did not have any children. But Abraham believed God and set out in faith.
Long Wait for Fulfillment
However, years passed and Abraham and Sarah remained childless. They waited patiently for God to fulfill His promise to them. As time went on and they got older, it looked even more impossible that they would have a child. Yet Abraham’s faith in God and His promise did not waver (Romans 4:18-22).
When Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was 90, they finally conceived and had a son named Isaac – the child of promise! The duration of their wait was around 25 years from the time God first made the promise until baby Isaac was born.
What an amazing testimony of steadfast faith and patient endurance as Abraham and Sarah trusted in God’s perfect timing and plan.
Lessons We Learn
Here are some lessons we can take from Abraham’s story:
- God’s promises are true and trustworthy – we can fully rely on them even when we don’t see the fulfillment yet.
- Waiting on God requires faith and patience as His timing and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
- God is able to do the impossible – nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17).
- Waiting strengthens our faith and draws us closer to God.
May Abraham’s perseverance and trust in God’s providence inspire us in our own seasons of waiting! What an mighty and faithful God we serve.
Joseph – Waiting to be Rescued from Slavery
Sold into Slavery by Brothers
Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, given a beautiful coat by his father. This caused great jealousy among his brothers, who sold Joseph into slavery when he was just 17 years old. Joseph was likely frightened and devastated to be torn away from his family and homeland, forced to walk hundreds of miles to Egypt where he was sold.
Yet despite this terrible injustice done to him, Joseph continued to trust in God’s faithfulness.
Imprisoned Wrongly in Egypt
In Egypt, Joseph served Potiphar faithfully before being falsely accused and thrown into prison for years. This was another time where Joseph had every right to become angry and bitter. He had done nothing wrong, yet was suffering greatly. However, Joseph continued to wait patiently on God.
As Psalm 40:1 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”
While in prison, Joseph gained a reputation as one who could interpret dreams. This led to him interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and being elevated to second-in-command over Egypt. This amazing turnaround shows how God can take terrible circumstances and use them for good in His perfect timing (Genesis 50:20).
God’s Faithfulness Despite the Wait
From the time Joseph was sold into slavery to the time he became Pharaoh’s right hand man was around 13 years. That is a long time to wait! There were likely times Joseph felt forgotten by God. But God did not forget Joseph.
At just the right time, He elevated Joseph from the prison to the palace in one day!
Joseph’s story reminds us that while waiting can be difficult, God is always faithful. As Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). God has a purpose and timing for everything, and works in His perfect way.
Joseph’s patience during decades of suffering provides an inspirational model of faith we can follow when going through long waits in life.
David – Waiting to Become King of Israel
Anointed as Future King
As a young shepherd boy, David was anointed by Samuel the prophet to be the future king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1-13). This was an incredible honor, yet David did not immediately become king. He had to wait patiently for many years before this prophecy was fulfilled.
During this waiting period, David learned valuable leadership skills and experience that prepared him for the throne.
Many Trials Before Kingship
After being anointed, David faced many difficulties and trials before becoming king. He had to flee for his life from the jealous King Saul. He lived as an exile and fugitive, hiding in the wilderness and caves. His life was constantly in danger.
Although David had opportunities to seize the throne prematurely, he refused to take matters into his own hands. He waited patiently for God’s timing (1 Samuel 24, 26).
David’s example teaches us that waiting on God’s promises requires faith and endurance. Even when we know our calling, the journey often involves tests of character. David passed the test by trusting God wholeheartedly. He refused to speed up God’s timing.
David’s Example of Patience
After many years of waiting, David was finally crowned king at age 30 when Saul died (2 Samuel 2:4). His patient endurance was rewarded. As king, David continued to seek God in everything he did. He didn’t become proud or impatient.
David said, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). His example encourages us to wait on the Lord even through difficult circumstances. Waiting deepens our trust in God’s perfect timing.
Like David, we can come through the waiting process with more wisdom, maturity and readiness for God’s purposes.
Job – Waiting After Sudden Tragedy
Prosperous Life Suddenly Lost
Job was a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1). He had a large family with 7 sons and 3 daughters, and substantial wealth with thousands of animals and many servants (Job 1:2-3).
Job was the greatest man in the East (Job 1:3) and regularly offered sacrifices for his children’s purity (Job 1:5). However, in one fateful day, Job lost everything – his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, servants, and even his sons and daughters were all killed (Job 1:13-19).
This enormous tragedy happened suddenly without any warning. In an instant, Job’s prosperous life was tragically lost.
Maintains Faith Throughout Suffering
Despite his crushing losses, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22). He maintained his integrity and faith in God. Soon after, Job was afflicted with painful sores all over his body (Job 2:7). His physical suffering compounded his emotional grief.
But throughout his intense anguish, Job did not curse God (Job 2:10).
Three of Job’s friends – Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar – came to comfort him, but they ended up accusing Job of sin and wrongdoing to deserve such suffering (Job 2:11, 4:7-8). However, Job maintained that he was innocent and did not deserve this (Job 10:7, 16:17).
Job struggled to understand why all these tragedies happened, but he kept seeking God in the midst of suffering. He longed to plead his case before God (Job 13:3, 23:4).
Restoration that was Worth Waiting For
After a long period of suffering, God spoke to Job from a whirlwind (Job 38:1). God affirmed His sovereign power, righteousness and justice in how He governs the universe. Job humbly submitted to God’s supreme authority (Job 42:2-6).
God then restored Job’s fortunes – giving him double for all he had before (Job 42:10). God blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part (Job 42:12). This restoration was worth waiting patiently for God’s perfect timing.
Job’s story teaches us that when we suffer, we must not lose faith but keep trusting in God’s goodness. We should submit to God’s sovereignty and wait patiently for His perfect timing. In due time, God may graciously restore us, as He restored Job.
As James said, we have seen the purpose of the Lord’s patience in Job’s sufferings and blessings (James 5:11).
Simeon – Waiting to See the Messiah
Promised to See the Messiah
Simeon was a righteous and devout man living in Jerusalem at the time Jesus was born. He was told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah who was promised in the Old Testament scriptures (Luke 2:25-26).
This divine revelation gave Simeon an amazing promise to hold onto. It meant that in his lifetime, the Messiah would finally come to bring salvation to Israel. Though he had to wait patiently for many years, Simeon clung to this hope.
Faithful to the End
The Bible describes Simeon as a man who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). This means he was waiting for the Messiah, who would bring comfort and redemption to God’s people. As a devout Jew, Simeon would have been very familiar with the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah.
He likely prayed fervently for the Lord to send the Christ and bring salvation. Though it took a long time, Simeon remained faithful and kept waiting expectantly to see God’s promise fulfilled.
One key to Simeon’s faithful waiting was the Holy Spirit’s revelation that he would indeed see the Messiah before dying. This promise gave him hope to persist through the difficult years of waiting. It motivated him to walk closely with God and look for the Christ’s coming.
His patient waiting was empowered by faith in God’s faithfulness.
Hope Fulfilled in Seeing Jesus
When Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for the purification rites, the Holy Spirit revealed to Simeon that this child was the Messiah (Luke 2:27). Imagine how Simeon must have rejoiced to lay eyes on the Christ he had been waiting to see!
All those years of patient anticipation were rewarded in beholding the salvation of God.
In seeing the Messiah, Simeon’s hope was fulfilled. He praised God for keeping His promise: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30).
Simeon had seen God’s faithfulness demonstrated, and the longing of his heart satisfied. For this righteous and devout man, the wait was worth it.
Simeon’s patient, faithful waiting challenges all believers. Are we persistent in waiting on God’s promises, even when the fulfillment seems delayed? Do we cling to the hope that one day God will make all things right and new?
As we walk with the Spirit each day, may we wait with the joyful expectancy of Simeon, who saw God’s gift of salvation in Jesus.
The lives of Abraham, Joseph, David, Job and Simeon remind us that waiting on God’s promises requires steadfast patience and faith. Despite hardships and long delays, they persevered in hope and obedience. We too must choose to trust in God’s perfect timing, even when we don’t understand the wait.
For the Lord’s plans for our lives are good, and His promises are always faithful and true. Patiently enduring proves our faith genuine, refines our character and glorifies God.