Does the Bible Actually Say 'Good Things Come to Those Who Wait'?
- Aaron Brown Crosswalk Contributing Author
- 2020 3 Dec
Commonly used though never quite cited, the phrase “good things come to those who wait” has been referenced within a number of Christian circles. This phrase is often used as a word of encouragement to those who find themselves in difficult circumstances. During their trials, they hope for God’s deliverance. Not knowing when that deliverance will come is where waiting occurs. Whether we have used the phrase or not, Christians know that life is replete with suffering, and dealing with suffering for an extended period of time can be taxing.
The good thing we await is in fact God’s deliverance, and finding ourselves out of the bad and in a new preferred outcome. Though this aphorism is optimistic at face-value and definitely reflects a Scriptural depiction of patience, are these words taken from Scripture?
To answer this question literally, the answer is no. The phrase “good things come to those who wait” is a quote cited as though it can be attributed to Scripture but actually did not originate with the Bible. The Bible talks a great deal about waiting, but this phrase isn’t one of the verses. Thus, where exactly does this saying come from?
What Is the Origin and Source of "Good Things Come to Those Who Wait"?
Abraham Lincoln is most famous for using this quote. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
However, the former president did not originate the quote either. This quote actually began with a writer who lived during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Her name was Lady Mary Montgomerie Currie. As when Christians use the phrase, the meaning in her words was also to encourage the listener to exercise patience. She used the phrase in her poem “Tout vient a qui sait attendre”. In this work, Lady Mary wrote under the pseudonym Violet Fane.
The passage from her work goes as follows.
“All hoped-for things will come to you
Who have the strength to watch and wait,
Our longings spur the steeds of Fate,
This has been said by one who knew.”
And it continues into the phrase, “Ah, all things come to those who wait”.
However, while the Bible does not use this phrase verbatim, we can see through a number of passages in the Bible that those who wait on God are indeed blessed. Good things do come to those who wait. The Bible with all its various stories has a plethora of examples where people waited for good things following a bad event. And no matter what form it took, the good thing was always a blessing from God.
Mary waited for a child. Job waited for restoration. Joseph waited in prison. The Israelites waited to find the Promised Land. There was a lot of waiting for believers then, and the same is true now. While one suffers, waiting does not feel like a good thing, but God does promise a good outcome in the end. Scripture speaks to this truth.
What Does the Bible Say about Good Things and Waiting?
Search the Bible for phrases like “deliver” and “wait” and there will be plenty of results to sift through. One great example of waiting on the Lord comes from the Book of Isaiah.
“but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint.”
The entirety of Isaiah 40 is a hopeful passage, making clear that apart from God, humanity is like the grass, withering away, but when dependent on God, we can live a life feeling renewed. The renewal that God’s people experience in this chapter is not immediate. Instead, there is a process required where believers wait on God first. Only after waiting, and a display of trust in God, can Christians then receive the renewal. That was true then, and this is true now.
Again, this passage reflects the idea of deliverance because God’s people have endured bad circumstances, but from the beginning of this passage until the end, the writer doesn’t just suggest waiting, they explain what good things come from waiting. This promise of God helping His people, in the end, should admonish us to practice patience. Though that is always easier said than done.
How Can Christians Exercise Patience in All Circumstances?
Ask any Christian who has sustained a significant loss in life if waiting is hard. Ask anyone waiting for a brighter future if waiting is hard. Whether you have experienced death, the loss of a relationship, a job, a home, or have been waiting for a while to secure a relationship, job, or home, you know that patience is often tested in life. And having one’s patience tested can be very uncomfortable.
Despite the discomfort, the Bible would not encourage Christians to wait for God if that were impossible. “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
With this truth in mind, we know that as believers waiting on God is possible. And we can ascertain from other places in Scripture that waiting on God is vital. Though how can we always be patient while we suffer?
The easiest way to be patient during trying circumstances is to recognize specific moments of gratitude. That idea sounds counterintuitive, but the Bible makes a strong case for expressing gratitude no matter what season of life we face. We can feel grateful because in the end, everything works out.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
The word rejoice means to take delight and appreciation in something. To rejoice in suffering is to take appreciation in the unpleasant things that occur in our lives, knowing that we are transformed by our situations. Our growth from suffering is one of the good things we can anticipate.
The other good thing we can wait for is our suffering to come to an end. As with the happy times in life, the bad times also come to their end. No season lasts always, meaning we can wait on God’s deliverance. We know that while he may not move as quickly as we want, in the end, we will overcome. That’s His promise.
Waiting Is a Good Thing
As we have discussed and highlighted within the Bible, there are plenty of benefits to waiting. Good things do come to those who wait if they are waiting on God. Patience is one of the virtues of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13. And we know through Scripture that love is even more important than faith. “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Waiting is a good thing, but hardly ever is waiting easy. With the stories of waiting in the Bible came plenty of anguish before God’s promised deliverance. Yet, we know that through these stories God always comes through for His people. This means that God will also come through for us. While the phrase, “good things come to those who wait” may not be from God, the meaning of those words is definitely within Scripture.
The next time you find yourself waiting on God, you can take heart knowing that you can expect God things. Encourage yourself with God’s promises to believers of old, and His followers now. Know that you are included in His promise. If God’s love endures forever, then we can be confident in our waiting. God will bring good things. We just have to wait and see. Once we get to the other side, we will be glad we did.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/TinnakornJorruang
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo.