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I’ve never been good at waiting.

When I was a third-grader, I’d sneak the cookies out of my sack lunch and eat them during mid-morning recess.

That meant no cookies at lunch, but I didn’t really care.

One year, I made a little hole in a wrapped Christmas gift to see what was inside. I pulled part of a knitted vest out through the hole.

My dad laughed when I picked up the package by part of the vest that was sticking out of the hole — leaving the rest of the gift dangling like a catch-of-the-day fish.

As I’ve aged, I’ve learned to be more patient, but I still scan the grocery store lines to see which one I can get through the fastest.

So ask me to wait years for something?

I don’t like that very well.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve heard about Bible-times people who waited years for dreams to come true.

God promised Abraham that he and Sarah would have a child.

And they did. Abraham was 100 years old at the time and Sarah was 90.

Hannah didn’t wait as long, but she waited for years — amid taunting from a rival — for a child, too.

I think Zechariah and Elizabeth had given up on having a child, before they became parents in their older years.

Was it worth the wait?

Abraham and Sarah became parents of Isaac — one of the ancestors of Jesus.

Hannah became the mother of Samuel — one of the most incredible prophets ever.

Zechariah and Elizabeth became the parents of John the Baptist.

Good things really can come to those who wait.

It’s just the waiting that can be the pits.

At times like these, I take comfort in the stories of people who received what they prayed for — and I remind myself of past lessons.

Here are a few:

God works behind the scenes — even when we think nothing is happening

  • . Bible teacher and speaker Priscilla Shirer tells about her young son who thought she did nothing all day.

He figured she was just typing, not realizing her writing helped provide for the family.

In a similar way, God is crafting our life stories, page by page, even when we don’t think he’s doing anything, she said.

God prepares us — and others — for what’s ahead.

  • I know a woman who waited years to get married.

Looking back, she can see where God was preparing her husband’s family for her.

Family members didn’t particularly like previous women he dated. By the time she came into his life, his family thought she was great.

Before she married, the woman also had endured tough times at work — with the possibility of losing her job — so she was sympathetic when her husband later faced rough times on the job and even unemployment.

God prepares us for blessings.

  • God usually has a bigger and better idea about things than we do and will need to prepare us for them, says the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.

Waiting is also a test of our character, trust, faith and endurance.

Waiting can make us appreciate what we have — when we finally get it.

  • People who’ve struggled to get an education, get married or have children can tell you how much they value what they have after their dreams are fulfilled — probably more so than if these blessings had come easily.

“Though sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5b)

A delay doesn’t necessarily mean a denial.

  • Shauna Letellier writes about this in her book: “Remarkable Hope — When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People.”

In the book, Shauna retells the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. When their brother got sick, the women sent word to Jesus. Lazarus died before Jesus arrived, but Christ then raised his friend from the dead.

It was an incredible, awe-inspiring miracle that brought many to faith in Jesus.

“Christ’s unhurried work is always the result of his love,” Letellier says. “When the wait is over and his glory is magnified, we will find our hope has not been denied, only divinely delayed.”

Do the things now that you might not be able to do when your dream comes true

  • . You might not have time to travel, take classes, read a trilogy, binge watch that TV series or write your memoirs after you get your dream job, marry, have children or embark on whatever else you’ve wanted.

As King Solomon once wrote: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven….” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Don’t keep focusing on what you don’t have. Look at what you have right now.

  • In her book, “Sassy, Single & Satisfied,” Christian author Michelle McKinney Hammond refers to the story of Adam and Eve.

These two folks could eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden, except for one.

Michelle tells how: “…we focus on the one tree that we can’t have at the moment to the point we fail to see all the trees we can enjoy. …

“God wants you to enjoy life, but you won’t if you keep staring at that one tree.”

Put God first.

  • My prayer has long been: “Lord, please help me to love you best and want you most.”

Distractions and disappointments can cause us to take our eyes off our loving God and what he’s done for us. We don’t want anything or anyone to become an idol.

Don’t give up.

  • Ask God to help you be strong and keep going.

Hang on to God’s word.

  • These Scriptures have encouraged me for years:

“Take delight in the Lord and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4.)

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33.)

“I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord.” (Psalm 27: 13-14.)

Waiting can be tough, but the longer I wait the more I know that God has been bringing me along on a journey and is preparing me for the future.

There are many times when I just have to say: “Lord, I don’t get it. I don’t understand this, but I trust you. You know what you’re doing.”

I believe this saying: “We live life forward. We only understand it backward.”

So I wonder: When I look back on this time, what will I see? I think I’ll see it as a time of challenge, growth and a period of my life when God took me to deeper levels of faith and trust.

I pray I don’t waste this time and fail to learn the lessons God wants to teach me. I hope I don’t look back and wonder why I didn’t appreciate this time more.

So as I wait, I keep trusting in a God who sees the future that I do not.

And I recall this verse: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord of hosts, “‘Plans to prosper and not harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

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Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.

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