We have become accustomed to things happening quickly. Online check-ins. Amazon's one-day delivery. Call-ahead seating. Drive-up grocery picks up.

The list of ways we avoid waiting goes on and on. While these conveniences help us save time, they certainly haven’t helped us learn how to deal with delays.

I was a flight attendant for 15 years, and I became very familiar with delays. At first, I would get so frustrated, discouraged, and even angry when delays would happen. Then, another flight attendant told me, “Diane, waiting time is not wasted time.” Years later, I am reminded of this great advice when I consider what it means to wait on the Lord.

All of us at one time or another have asked God for something and have had to wait on the answer. Maybe we have asked God to help us heal our bodies or minds, or to find our true loves, or to conceive a child. We might pray diligently and listen intently for an answer, but it seems that all we hear in response is silence. But God is never silent! Waiting has always been a part of His plan. with God; he uses this time in powerful ways.

Waiting is a common theme in the Bible. Abraham waited for 100 years before having the first of his twelve sons. Jacob waited and worked for 14 years before being allowed to marry Rachel, the woman he loved. Mary, the mother of Jesus, waited for nine months for her Son, and then waited thirty years before God’s promise that He would be the Messiah came to fruition when He began His ministry.

All the while, she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19 NIV). During this Advent season, we might even consider the waiting of the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah and our own waiting for His second coming. Throughout scripture and throughout history, waiting is a constant.

God uses this time of waiting to prepare us for what is to come. We may have work to do in the meantime, like Jacob, or God may be honing our faith and humility like He did with Abraham before making him the “father of many nations” (Romans 4:18 NLT). Or we may simply need to study, pray, and meditate to prepare our hearts, as Mary did. However God wants us to use our waiting time, it is important to remember that it is part of God’s plan for our benefit and for His glory, so we should honor it and take heart in His steadfast faith. Waiting may not be easy for us, but Psalms 27 tells us, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage.”