How we wait has such an impact on us and on all those who are close to us, especially when we are waiting for a long time. Whether we wait patiently or impatiently, may not change the time that we have to wait, but it can change us. It could be that in our waiting season there are benefits of waiting on the Lord….
We are at the beginning of a new year and this year, maybe more than at any other, many of us are waiting. What we are waiting for will vary, it could be that we are waiting to see if the restrictions due to Covid will be lifted, or waiting to see how effectively the vaccine is working. It may have nothing to do with the Covid virus, there could be other deeper issues, were we are waiting for an answer, for a breakthrough, for things to improve in some way.
Why, how we wait is important
It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but we often find our waiting experience more difficult through times of trial, difficulty and hardship. Those times when our comfort is disrupted, or when our choices are limited and restricted. The danger is that we then become like the Israelites in the wilderness, grumbling and complaining about our lives. I have been there, struggling with problems and asking why is this happening to me…. Then the move into grumbling and complaining is such an easy trap to fall into.
Remember what God said to Israel, that He led them into the wilderness to humble and test them, in order to know what was in their hearts. (Deut 8:2) Those difficult times do reveal what is in our hearts, to God and to ourselves. Part of moving forward and through a wilderness experience is, facing what is in our hearts and allowing what we see there, to draw us closer to God. It is through those times that we learn to depend on God, that He is always faithful.
Waiting for God
Are we waiting for God to do something? I have been through that season, where I was praying for God to answer certain prayers – the ‘doing’ prayers. Lord, if only you would do this, heal this person, fix this situation, things will be so much easier when you do. And we keep on trying to tell God what we need Him to do…
Do you remember how Martha was waiting for Jesus to do something, to instruct and rebuke her sister? When Jesus didn’t intervene, she became cross and told Jesus what she wanted Him to say and do:
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”Luke 10:40
But Jesus wanted Martha to learn something through the situation that she was in – a situation that she had created. And so he doesn’t respond in the way that she expects.
Waiting for God to do something can be a place of exhaustion, when God does not respond in the way that we think He should. We may even start trying to fulfill routines, methods, and practices, as a call to God, to answer our prayers now. We can start to carry a religious burden, and our thinking can become distorted. Surely if we prayed longer, fasted more, were ‘better’ at worship, or memorised scripture more, then God will move?
But when the answer to our prayers doesn’t come in the way we want, we can even begin to think, like Martha, that God doesn’t care about our situation. The truth is we need to come to a place of acceptance and trust. We cannot manipulate God and change our time of waiting. While we wait, for God, we need to develop the attitude of waiting on God.
Waiting on God
There is a subtle difference between waiting for and waiting on, which has a real impact. Martha’s sister Mary was waiting on the Lord, sitting at His feet, and leaning in and listening to hear what Jesus had to say. We know that Mary chose the best, what would have a lasting value, her spiritual need above her physical comfort.
While we are waiting for God to move in our circumstances, we need to develop the posture and the attitude of waiting on Him. It is only when we lean in close that we will hear God’s whisper. There are times when God demonstrates His power and authority with awe inducing, wonders – but so many more times when He speaks with a soft and gentle, still-small voice.
As we wait on God, we can live in the fullness of this moment, where we are right now. We can be renewed and refreshed as we listen for God’s whisper of encouragement for today – His grace is sufficient for us. Tomorrow is in His hands. As we draw near to God, we learn to trust that He has control of our situation. Then we can delight in spending time talking to the Lord with gratitude and thanksgiving. And find ourselves spontaneously expressing our praise to God, with real joy.
As we wait on the Lord, and are refreshed, we may even begin to look outwards. As we let go of our worries, our prayers become more concerned for others, for their being and becoming. Lord help them to come to know you, to be set free from addiction, to become more confident, to become stronger…..We can serve God, where He has placed us now, with the difficult, the awkward, the troublesome people and situations, all with His love and grace.
As we wait for God, we wait on God and receive the strength that we need for the day.Tweet
Five benefits of waiting on the Lord!
The Process of Discovery
God can transform and change situations and circumstances in an instance, but often He is leading us through a process. God is gracious to us, that in and through our circumstances, He wants to draw us closer to Himself. In this process, whatever the difficult situation may be, we learn more about ourselves and more about God. It is what we discover about God by experience that becomes our testimony – the power of overcoming. We are on a journey of faith, a lifetime of learning, and we never stop.
“But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”Romans 8:24-25
Ultimately our hope is eternal, and our hope is in Jesus. We have a Lord and Saviour who identifies with us and who knows how we feel. Jesus empathizes with our situation and is praying for us, and He brings us hope for the future – because He has overcome!
It is often through those times of hardship and difficulty that our faith deepens. It is in those times, as we learn to rely and depend on God, that we grow and mature to become more like Jesus. This is God’s will for our lives. He is shaping and moulding us to conform to the image of His Son. This is the reality of His working ‘all things together for our good.’
In our season of waiting on the Lord, we bear fruit that glorifies God. The apostle Paul lists the ‘fruits of the spirit’ as being those qualities which define the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Such as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This list is not exhaustive.
The apostle Peter also lists qualities that enable us to be effective in serving the Lord. He includes goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. What God works within us during our time of waiting, is revealed as fruit that will bless others.
Renew our strength
“But those who wait on 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
There is a surety, a promise of what will happen as we wait on the Lord, and it is a progression.
1 – We will receive strength, not of our own, but received from the Lord. This will enable us to rise above our problems so that we view the bigger picture. It will enable us to shift our focus off the details of our own situation, and realign our perspective, to see the might and authority of our God.
2 – The strength we receive will empower us to progress, through our situation. When we would be expected to become tired and weary, we will be able to continue.
3 – Our God given strength provides encouragement and endurance. There is a promise that we will continue walking forward, that we will receive the ability to keep on, keeping on, each day.
Five Verses of Scripture on Waiting
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7
“But those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” Psalm 37:9
“I waited patiently for the Lord he turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1
We can trust in God that He is working all things for our good. We can keep on following after Jesus and walk through whatever situation we are in, with confidence. God is by our side and He is our strength for today and our hope for tomorrow.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”Romans 8:28-29
If you are Still Waiting there is more encouragement in this reflection on Psalm 13.
And you can read more here about Martha, how she should be remembered for far more than her mistake….