Waiting doesn’t come easy for human beings. We aren’t naturally patient.
But multiple times, the prophet Isaiah identifies waiting as a key component of discipleship. Here are some examples:
- “I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him” (Isaiah 8:17, 2 Nephi 18:17).
- “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).
- “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
- “Thou shalt know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Isaiah 49:23, 1 Nephi 21:23, 2 Nephi 6:7).
- “The isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust” (Isaiah 51:5, 2 Nephi 8:5).
After quoting one of those passages, Nephi’s brother Jacob reaffirmed this principle:
For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah.2 Nephi 6:13
Easy to say; hard to do. When the people of Limhi were in captivity, they knew that Alma and his people had organized themselves into a church. They wanted the blessings Alma’s people had received, but it wasn’t time yet. “Therefore they did not at that time form themselves into a church, waiting upon the Spirit of the Lord” (Mosiah 21:34).
Alma longed for the coming of the Savior:
We only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.Alma 13:25
When Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, the Lord counseled him to focus on the task at hand and not to be distracted by other work which he might do in the future. “You have a gift to translate the plates,” He said; “and…I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished” (Doctrine and Covenants 5:4). In that same revelation, the Lord commanded him even to pause in the work of translation:
When thou hast translated a few more pages thou shalt stop for a season, even until I command thee again; then thou mayest translate again….
Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee.Doctrine and Covenants 5:30, 34
In our last general conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke of the discomfort and anxiety we might feel as we wait for good things:
I speak of the yearning of many who would like to be married and aren’t or who are married and wish the relationship were a little more celestial. I speak of those who have to deal with the unwanted appearance of a serious medical condition—perhaps an incurable one—or who face a lifelong battle with a genetic defect that has no remedy. I speak of the continuing struggle with emotional and mental health challenges that weigh heavily on the souls of so many who suffer with them, and on the hearts of those who love and suffer with them. I speak of the poor, whom the Savior told us never to forget, and I speak of you waiting for the return of a child, no matter what the age, who has chosen a path different from the one you prayed he or she would take….
While we work and wait together for the answers to some of our prayers, I offer you my apostolic promise that they are heard and they are answered, though perhaps not at the time or in the way we wanted. But they are always answered at the time and in the way an omniscient and eternally compassionate parent should answer them. My beloved brothers and sisters, please understand that He who never sleeps nor slumbers cares for the happiness and ultimate exaltation of His children above all else that a divine being has to do. He is pure love, gloriously personified, and Merciful Father is His name.“Waiting on the Lord,” General Conference, October 2020
Today, I will wait upon the Lord. I will have faith in His timing. I will trust His promises. I will strive to overcome my natural impatience. I will do what He asks me to do, when He asks me to do it.
Thank you Paul. I appreciate the way you present your thoughts. I really like that you share a challenge, for yourself, at the end. It’s one day at a time. It’s one principle at a time. It feels doable.
Thanks for the comment. I agree: one day at a time is doable. More than that can seem overwhelming. Great things can come from making steady, incremental progress every day. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog, and I appreciate your feedback.