But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Waiting seems to be the antithesis of everything 21st century America. Our modern culture is unaccustomed to the idea of waiting. We are conditioned to instant gratification with immediate results. We generally do not wait well. Maybe it’s just me. In the days of Jesus, time moved more slowly. They didn’t hop in the car and arrive at their destination miles away within an hour. If the destination was 40 miles away, that was approximately two days of walking. Just imagine that for a minute. Perhaps there is something deeply rooted in the concept that it is not about the destination but the journey itself. If Jesus could have arrived at His destination within minutes rather than days, what miracles would have been missed, what parables would never have been taught.
Lately it feels like I am doing the thing I dislike the most: waiting. When I read the words of Isaiah, “they who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength,” it has made me consider the impact waiting has on my life. Do I often feel like my strength is renewed when I wait? Honestly, I do not. I had to wait for news from the vet about blood work on my dog, and it took about a week. The wait felt long, and it was mentally draining. All the questions left unanswered in the wait. All the worst-case scenarios playing through my mind. No, I definitely did not feel renewed. At least, not until I surrendered it to the Lord–regardless of what the outcome would be. Jesus kindly and patiently has been teaching me that I may not know the answer, but I know the One who does. And He is good. He is faithful. And He is trustworthy. He will be my strength, no matter what may come.
Jesus has been teaching me a beautiful lesson in recent months of my life. I have never been a patient waiter. Knowing and being fully informed makes me feel like I am in control. If I can be prepared, then I will be okay. At least that’s how I once operated. Growth happens in the in-between. Think about the prayers you have prayed throughout your life. What if God had answered them immediately and had answered them exactly as you imagined?! Are you cringing? I am. I am so thankful that God has NOT answered my prayers when and how I have asked. That alone should fuel my faith. He has never once let me down. Sure, in the moments I have not always understood what He was doing nor have I always liked it. But I can see through the gift of hindsight, how loving His answers have been.
My prayer, and the desire of my heart, has been “Help my unbelief. Teach me what it means to truly trust You.” Faith is rarely grown instantaneously. Were it to be so, then would it really faith? When we are waiting for something, we often have several choices. We could be like Sarah in the Old Testament, who grew weary of waiting for God to fulfill His promise to Abraham to make him the father of many nations. She decided to take matters into her own hands and get ahead of God’s timing. In doing so, she made life more difficult for herself, her servant, Hagar, Hagar’s son, and her future son. She chose to give Abraham a son through her servant and didn’t wait for God’s timing. God faithfully fulfilled His promise to Abraham, as He does, but she tried to force His timing and His plan, thus bringing unnecessary trials and heartache to her family. What blessings did she miss due to her lack of patience and faith?
Sometimes, as we wait, we manage it by working ourselves into an anxious tizzy. Or we look for signs everywhere to point us in the direction we want to go, convinced it is God’s hand. Or we choose to not wait at all and bulldoze ahead into whatever disaster awaits at the end of our lack of patience. However, the wisest choice for while we wait is to persist in prayer. Pray and learn to recognize and yield to the voice of the Holy Spirit within us. Faith is matured while we wait. Many, many times I have jumped ahead of God’s timing, not waiting on the Lord. Those times were filled with a lack of peace, a lack of strength, and weariness. When we wait on the Lord, however, we experience renewal, refreshing, and strength beyond our limits. Isaiah said those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength. The key is to wait on the Lord.
My life is in a season of waiting. As I mentioned before, I don’t wait well. Yet, I am learning to be appreciative of the waiting periods. I have had to wait on inconsequential things, but I have learned to pray about even those. God, in His faithfulness, has helped me to see and to recognize that if I didn’t have to wait as I did, then I would not have experienced the joy in the answered prayers I have received. Sometimes, waiting has resulted in an answer to a prayer, only different than how I thought the Father would answer, and I grew in understanding of the wisdom and knowledge of God. My faith is growing. The answer to my prayer for helping me overcome my unbelief has been to wait on the Lord. Waiting on the Lord is a gift all by itself. As I wait for the Lord, my relationship with Him grows stronger. My intimacy with Him increases. My delight in Him explodes. Waiting on the Lord teaches me about the character and nature of relationship with God. It is priceless. It is inexplicable.
I have been waiting several months to hear back about a book contract through an agent. The struggle is real in the waiting. The doubts come unbidden. Did I hear Him wrong? The assaults from the enemy hiss at my insecurity. I’m still waiting. But I can, with confidence, say, I know who I have believed, and I trust He is working this out for His glory and my good. I have this certainty that God is moving in my life and about to bring some change into it. I don’t know what it is going to be or how it will manifest, but I am waiting on Him to see what will be. At church, I don’t really know my role anymore or to what God is calling me. I know I feel like the outcast, but I also know that God will use this trial to achieve His plan and His purpose, and it is so far beyond my human understanding and beyond me. But it will be good. Sometimes what we think God has called us to shifts and changes, and as we wait on Him, we learn what it means to trust Him. We see that He is good and He is kind and He is faithful. At work, I left the other day feeling utterly demoralized, asking myself, what am I doing? Asking God, is this what You have for me? When I am waiting in my own strength and power on my own wants and selfish desires, I grow faint and weary. But as I wait on the Lord, I experience a renewal that is unachievable in my own strength. If God is doing an entire recharting of my course, I know I can trust Him. I have learned that I no longer need immediate answers. I have learned a secret in my relationship with Jesus that fuels my faith and empowers me to wait well: as I wait on Him, He invites me into a deeper knowledge, understanding, and relationship with Him. He reveals Himself to me. He lets me know Him, find Him, and do life with Him. And THAT is where the joy and peace are found.
I don’t know what God is doing in my world right now. When I view it through my own human lens, in some ways, it can feel overwhelming and somewhat hopeless. But I know my God is with me and is saying to wait for Him to show me the next step. Not the next fifty steps, just the next one. Waiting is abiding in Jesus. What a gift! Whatever you are waiting on from the Lord today, trust Him to continue waiting for His hand to guide and direct you. Believe Him. Abide in Him. And watch in wonder as He takes you to places with Him you never could have imagined.