By Jeannette Haley
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall
strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. – Psalm 27:14
One of the topics that is a big part of the American scene is the subject of diet and obesity. Leading factors in weight gain are many, including genetics, engineered junk foods, food addictions (namely, sugar), pharmaceuticals, growth hormones and antibiotics, pesticides, chemical sweeteners, processed foods, overeating, stress, hormonal imbalances, adherence to the FDA recommended daily food intake (which is upside down) and lack of adequate water, to name a few. While weight is a major concern, there is another “weightier” subject that Christians need to seriously consider, which can be summed up in one little, not-too-popular word, spelled “w-a-i-t.”
Most of us are busy people. Time is short, and seemingly getting shorter as we age. On top of that, we all have obligations, duties and deadlines. All is fine as long as we can manage to keep our little train of life chugging down the track, but when all our well-laid out plans are suddenly interrupted and our “engine” is forced to slow down to a stop we find ourselves drowning in a backwash of frustration. Whether it’s a computer problem, a car problem, a home appliance problem, or a plumbing problem (like we recently experienced) or any other problem that we can’t fix, there’s no avoiding the fact that we have to wait for the right person to rescue us and solve the problem. Then there is the biggie; in other words, our health! Waiting to regain health and strength is a whole other subject unto itself. Generally, however, we usually end up with some idea of how long we have to wait before a problem is solved which can give us a hopeful glimpse of the “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Having to wait in times of temporary disruptions and inconveniences is one thing, but the kind of waiting the Bible talks about is something else entirely because it involves our total dependency upon the sovereignty of God. In our natural human state, this is something we try to avoid. Oh, we talk and sing about “waiting on the Lord” so we can “mount up with wings as eagles,” but in reality, we hope that our time of such waiting is a very short one, especially in times of great distress, danger, sickness and suffering, or concerning disheartening, out-of-control situations, or in on-going turbulent relationships. Psalm 13:1, 2 begins with the Psalmist crying out, “How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” As we read this verse, we can easily feel the angst and frustration he was experiencing.
No doubt in these perilous times there are many men and women of good character standing against the rising tide of pure evil and insanity that are asking the same questions. Thankfully, in verses 5 and 6 David found the answer, “But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” There is no spiritually opposing force on earth that is greater, wiser, more powerful, or that somehow has the ability to exalt itself above or beyond the height, breadth, scope or depth of God and His Word. For example, if you want to read a description of Fake news and those who support it, read Psalm 12 (and other like passages of Scripture.) The Word of God contains the spiritual explanations, answers and solutions to every situation. “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. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth” Psalm 37:7, 8, 9.
Fifteen months ago, when I got “bucked off” a collapsing kitchen stool and was badly bruised and painfully injured, after going to the Lord about it, I knew He had heard my cry for help and healing. It was so clear to me that I half expected an instantaneous miracle. Instead, the Spirit said, “WAIT.” My first impulse was to question within myself, “Why?” I knew I would be healed, so why did I have to wait? Looking back on that time, I realize that waiting is a powerful discipline and test of faith. When we have a sudden burst of faith in a given situation, it’s easy to assume that our moment of inspiration is enough to carry us through until we fly over the finish line. But it just doesn’t work that way because God wants to do a very deep, growing and lasting work in us so that we will be strong: rooted and grounded in Christ and able to stand in abiding faith no matter what assails us. Colossians 2:7, says, “Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
Oswald Chambers said, “One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God. Tenacity is more than endurance; it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered. The greatest fear a man has is not that he will be damned, but that Jesus Christ will be worsted, that the things He stood for – love and justice and forgiveness and kindness among men – will not win out in the end; the things He stands for look like will-o’-the-wisps. Then comes the call to spiritual tenacity, not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted. If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified. There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled. One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God. ‘Because thou hast kept the word of my patience.’ Remain spiritually tenacious.”
We all love God’s promises, but how many of us seriously consider the conditions that go along with them? God’s wonderful promises make us feel good, but the conditions, not so much. Conditions mean that there are certain requirements to be met on our part in order for the promise to come forth, and more often than not one of those conditions involves waiting on God. God promised Eve that He would provide a savior and a redeemer, and some teach when Eve bore Cain and declared, “I have gotten a man from the LORD,” that she believed he was the promised one. How disappointed she must have been when Cain proved to be a murderer! The Bible tells us that Adam lived for 930 years, and in that time he “begat sons and daughters” Genesis 5:4b so we can only imagine how long Eve waited for the promise to be fulfilled. Hopefully she clung to her faith, and came to the realization that God would fulfill His promise in the “fullness of time,” which He did.
When the Lord called Abram to leave his country, kindred, and father’s house he was 75 years old. God spoke to him and gave this promise, “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing” Genesis 12:2. We see in the story of Abraham that there was first a separation, and then preparation through a 25-year waiting period before Isaac was born to him and Sarah in their old age. We all know that Sara convinced her husband that they should “do something” to “help” God keep his promise, hence Ishmael came on the scene and we also all know the on-going problems that has caused for both Israel and the world.
After their long wait, it is interesting to note that God changed their names to indicate the fulfillment of his promises to them. (Study Genesis 17.) Changing their names gave them both a whole new identity and purpose, just like when God makes all things new when we repent and receive Jesus into our hearts. Our walk is a walk of faith which means we must learn to wait on the Lord, trusting that He will fulfill all His good Word to us without our meddling into His way of accomplishing it.
In Exodus 24:16 we read of Moses who went up into Mount Sinai and waited for the Lord for six days. How many of us could settle ourselves enough to wait on a mountaintop, covered by a cloud, for a week without doubting God, or ourselves? Besides, sitting in a foggy atmosphere is depressing. Moses couldn’t even enjoy the view, and he certainly didn’t have a cell phone to occupy his time, or even a selection of snacks from a vending machine. There were no books to read, no television to watch, no music to listen to and certainly no FOX news to keep him informed of what the rest of the world was doing. He didn’t even have a service dog! Moses was in an intense waiting period! But, guess what? This really was no ordinary cloud for “the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights” Exodus 24:16-18.
The LORD had said to Moses “Come up to me into the mount, and be there” (vs. 12a). I love the intimate, personal invitation from God to “Come up to me… and be there.” Jesus said in Matthew 11:28a “Come unto me.” He promised, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” John 6:37. When God calls us to come, we must rise up, and be prepared to “go up” and “be there” (or wait) for when He calls us to Himself, it means to come up higher. “The Lord is high, and lifted up, and his train fills the temple” Isaiah 6:1b. Waiting on the Lord is a time of coming higher, a time of preparation where the things of the world are left behind and where our hearts are stilled and settled in faith and hopeful expectation that what God is going to reveal to us is more of Himself.
King David is an example of waiting in action; that is, much of his life involved waiting, but he was never unoccupied. David had to wait about 15 years from the time he was first anointed by Samuel to the time he became king over Judah. Then it was another seven years before David was anointed king over all Israel. 2 Samuel 5:4 says, “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.” Jesus Himself was about thirty years old when He began His public ministry. (See Luke 3:23). Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. (See Genesis 41:46). “From thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation.” (See Numbers 4:3).
I remember way back when I was young, and zealous to serve the Lord. Back then I had no clue just how to go about that, but I knew God’s hand was upon me. The problem was, my goals and my priorities were upside down, but that’s another story. So, when I turned 30, I was hoping that somehow a “ministry” would open up to me. I knew the world was a mess full of lost, hell-bound people, and needed changing, and I was willing to go out and be another “great evangelist” if it was the Lord’s will. I waited for three years for “something” to happen. Then I figured 33 was the right number for things to happen since Jesus was crucified at that age. Well, as you all know, nothing spectacular happened in my Christian life then either; in fact, it was just the opposite. Finally, when I hit 40, I had been through a lot of trials and testing, so I figured that now I was all ready to step into a big ministry and take on the devil and change the world. Obviously, that never took place, but soon after I met Rayola, and ever since then our wonderful Lord has taken us on a spiritual journey that is amazing. By my 50th year, I recognized that God had brought me on an incredible journey, and that He had everything under control in spite of myself. This is a journey that will continue until my last breath because through all the years of “waiting” I have learned that what is most important in a person’s life is not who you are, what “great things” you may do or where you go, but Who you know, and that is Jesus Christ. He must become our all in all, every day. Realizing that can take a long time, and involve a lot of waiting, but once a person enters into that place in God, his or her whole perspective on life changes, and you discover how true these words of Jesus are, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” Matthew 23:11, 12.
When it comes to prayer, think about the prophet Daniel and how long he had to wait for his prayer to be answered even though as soon as he prayed, his prayer was heard. The delay was because of a great battle in the unseen realm between Michael the archangel and the prince of the power of the air over Persia. The key is, Daniel’s faith held strong through the 21 days that he waited for the answer. We must rest in faith, knowing that God hears our prayers, even though sometimes the answers are delayed, some even for a lifetime. Waiting is a real test of our faith!
Jesus, concerning prayer, said in Matthew 6:7-8, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Sometimes God answers our prayers before we pray them, but as stated, other times we must wait and believe even if it is for a lifetime. Peter wrote to the persecuted saints, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:7. The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.
A, W. Tozer said, “What then are we to do about our problems? We must learn to live with them until such time as God delivers us from them…we must pray for grace to endure them without murmuring. Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly.”
Oswald Chambers said, “Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, ‘It’s all a lie’? When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, ‘Oh yes, I believe God can do it,’ but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief (see Luke 9:28-42). Every time my theology becomes clear to my own mind, I encounter something that contradicts it. As soon as I say, ‘I believe God shall supply all [my] need,’ the testing of my faith begins (Philippians 4:19). When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat?
“Faith must be tested, because it can only become your intimate possession through conflict. What is challenging your faith right now? The test will either prove your faith right, or it will kill it. Jesus said, ‘Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me’ (Matthew 11:6). The ultimate thing is confidence in Jesus. ‘We have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…’ (Hebrews 3:14). Believe steadfastly on Him and everything that challenges you will strengthen your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test. Faith is absolute trust in God— trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5-6).”
The Bible is full of examples of men and women whose faith was severely tested by long periods of waiting. Consider the nation of Israel and their long periods of waiting upon God for the promised Messiah, who, when He came, was only recognized by a few. Think of the miracle of restoring the Jewish people to their God-given land after 2,000 years of exile, while those of us who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb are still waiting for the return of Christ to set up His earthly kingdom.
Keep in mind the ten virgins who went forth with their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Five were wise because they took oil for their lamps, and five were foolish because they did not. All ten of them knew they were going to wait for the bridegroom, but the five foolish virgins weren’t prepared for a long wait and so they ran out of oil. To the Church in these end days, let this be a clear warning that those “who endure to the end shall be saved” but they must have what it takes to keep their faith “burning” until the trumpet sounds!
In attempting to write this article on the subject of waiting, I discovered that waiting goes hand in hand with faith. To wait in a manner that is pleasing to God will always involve faith, and such faith will be tested, tried and stretched to the utmost during long periods of waiting. Waiting before the Lord cannot only be a time of testing of our own faith, but also a time of testing the faith of others which may even result in separation. This is because people who have their own creeds and set ideas of how God works often become annoyed, critical, and even judgmental of the person who is patiently waiting for the Lord, such as was Job.
Thus, we should never give in to the feelings, fears, and failings of others when we are suffering though a long trial that involves waiting upon the Lord, for faithful is He who promised, and who will bring it to pass, for it is He who keeps our life in His hands.