Waiting is a test of patience but waiting on God is much more than that. Everyone at times has to wait and the normal thing is to fidget, look at our watches, sometimes stamp our feet if we are waiting too long while standing, cross and re-cross our legs while sitting and sometimes we do the disadvantageous and decide to wait no longer.
But we are not all alike while waiting.
Some people are so attuned to waiting that they prepare well for the stint. At the bank while waiting in the queue some take a book or a newspaper and have a read, in some situations people take a folding chair and sit while waiting their turn, some people take beds and sleep overnight so as not to lose their spot in the queue for summer sales and some park their trolley in the queue, as if they are taxis in a rank, and go rambling all over the super-market and return at intervals to push their trolley along. It is so maddening when someone at the checkout forgets to get an item and then holds up the queue to go and get the item. And so many of us know the situation when we have a medical test and have to wait for the result.
But we are alike in this one thing; we hate waiting.
Good ideas become a cropper because we hate waiting. The use of private motor cars has exploded because people hate waiting for the bus or the train; car-pooling, an idea so excellent and progressive, has fallen by the wayside because people hate having to wait for stragglers. We even stop giving people lifts to church, or children to school because they keep us waiting, and sometimes we get to our destination late as a result. We have all experienced agreeing to meet someone at a given time at a given place and has to wait ages for the person to arrive; and then the person arrives as if punctuality is no big deal. Grrrrrrr!
Waiting on God is something entirely different and every believer has to wait on God as a matter of routine, expediency and necessary character development. Waiting on God is neither a negative to hate and avoid nor onerous in the sense that it becomes wearisome and grievous. The Bible spells out for us the tremendous benefits that befalls all believers as they wait on God.
"Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But 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 40:30-31)
Notice the wonderful benefits that accrue to believers that wait on God.
They renew their strength. While it is true that strength is not the most important ingredient in the successful walk with God, it always will be very important for the completion of the journey. Every athlete understands this and strength training is an important part of their routine. Believers too can get weary, lose strength along the way and become spiritually debilitating. Sporting cheats use illegal drugs to give them strength; believers use the expedience of waiting for the same effect. Believers understand the importance of waiting on God for strength and David puts it well in these words, "It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect." (Psalm 18:32)
They shall mount up with wings as eagles. The phrasing here is an excellent drawing on the eagle's prowess of swiftly and strongly soaring into the heavens and into the untroubled clear skies. Nothing can hold the believer back when he waits and is renewed with the graces and blessing of Almighty God. One of the joys of the Christian experience is to be spiritually famished, exhausted and seeming on the point of resounding defeat only to mesmerise the enemy with renewed strength and enthusiasm and a greater exuberance and commitment to the cause of Christ. Just as the eagle's feathers are thought to be renewed to their youthful vigour so too are believers reinvigorated with fresh zest, as in their youth, that they may soar to new heights in God.
They shall run, and not be weary. Everyone knows that running is a high-energy activity and it will certainly make you tired as you proceed. The longer the run the more exhausted you will become and, as with all long-distance runners, eventually your fatigue brings you to a standstill. Waiting on God enables a renewing that does the impossible; for it generates energy that does not attenuate but goes on and on to journey's end. Sometimes the weariness is not in our walk but in the things we do along the way; even the weariness in reaching out to others and giving a helping hand. The Bible speaks to this encouragingly, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)
They shall walk, and not faint. In truth the Christian's journey is not so much a run as it is a walk for it is intended to last a lifetime. Parts of this journey will be a run but for most believers it is a steady, monotonous walk and as such calls for a different kind of application to be successful. John Gill in his Bible Commentary addressed this quite well, "[They shall walk, and not faint] in the ways of God, in the name of the Lord, or in Christ, as they have received him; leaning on him, trusting in him, continuing to do so, till they receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls; and so shall not sink under their burdens, nor give out till they enjoy it...some shall soar aloft, and dwell on high; others, though they cannot rise and "fly" so swiftly and strongly, yet shall "run" without weariness; and others, though they can neither fly nor run, yet shall "walk" without fainting."
So here we have the four listed benefits of waiting on God; renewed strength, soaring to new heights, running without weariness and walking without fainting.
And yet so many people fall by the wayside, so many lose their faith and conviction, so many backslide and so many apostatize. How can we explain that in spite of so many amazing benefits and resources and blessings that attend the faithful along the way that so many give in and do a Demas (2 Timothy 4:10)
The plain truth is that waiting on God is not easy and as we know that waiting generally can be hard to do. Many believers, along with the bulk of humanity, believe in instant gratification here and now. If tempted to die for God now, rather than deny their faith, most believers would choose instant martyrdom, but to die daily over many years, or as Jesus puts it, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." (Luke 9:23), many will find too demanding.
Waiting on God is not easy but it can be successful if we do it right.
We must wait with COURAGE, not trepidation and fear. "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." (Psalm 27:14)
We must wait with PATIENCE, not anxiety and restlessness. "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." (Psalm 37:7) "...though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:3)
We must wait with EXPECTATION AND HOPE, not despair and frustration. "And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee." (Psalm 39:7) "...and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me." (Isaiah 49:23)
We must wait in PEACE and RIGHTEOUSNESS, not in uncertainty and unpreparedness. "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." (2 Peter 3:14)
Just because something is difficult does not mean it can't be achieved; it merely indicates that extra effort and muscular application are required. Sometimes it's tough when you do and tough when you don't, sometimes when you just wait is the toughest of all. It is the believer that waits successfully that will hear the words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant... enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matthew 25:21) and that is something worth waiting for.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013