"God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God."--Lamentations 3:25 (The MSG)
Does anyone else feel like the pairing of the verbs 'passionately' and 'waits' is a bit of an oxymoron? A bit contradictory?
In my mind, 'waiting' is like hitting the pause button on life...everything just stops, stands frozen, still, unmoving until the "waiting" is over. It can be agonizing, draining, cumbersome, anything but passionate!
As I walk though life with Christ, I have to continually throw myself at His mercies as I struggle to deal with waiting. To be honest, I feel that I have spent many years in an ugly out-and-out battle to simply...wait. I use the word "battle", meaning it in the full use of the term because I tend to adopt the "Esau-Syndrome" wanting to rebel against waiting. I wrestle with wanting to impulsively react to satisfy a short-term desire, want, or (what I deem!) a need--not even thinking that I am trading away God's blessings and His perfect plan and purpose for me. All because I just can't seem to grasp the concept of waiting. Especially when waiting stretches past a "season" and goes into years, that now stretch into what I call "desert lands"
...it is hard to remember God's timing is better than mine...His ways are higher than mine...and His understanding of my situations and that also of the world. I, to be honest, tend to revert to the Israelite's behavior as I walk through my personal "desert" in life. It is a constant struggle in my heart because I do not want to be so near-sighted that I cannot trust in the bigger plan that He has!
"Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. ... “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all...we wanted!” ...[The Lord directed Moses to tell the people] "...Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. ...You will eat it...until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”--Numbers 11:1-20 (New Living Translation)
"But it wasn't long before they forgot the whole thing, wouldn't wait to be told what to do. They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert, provoked God with their insistent demands. He gave them exactly what they asked for— but along with it they got an empty heart..."--Psalm 106:13-15 (The Message)
The more I study the concept from a Christ-follower perspective of waiting, I am fully convinced it is one of the most challenging exhortations of Scripture for me. My natural progression of emotions during waiting periods, I have noticed is I tend become fidgety, fearful, frustrated, anxious, and sometimes even angry. I find myself screaming: "Am I really expected to just to...wait ...keep hitting the pause button, and just sit around twirling my thumbs until God hits the play button and gives resolution?"
My sweet Savior has listened to me beg for understanding on this subject, and recently He has laid an incredible thought on my heart: That waiting, despite my impatience and incredible dislike for it, is a essential element in my relationship with God and how I ultimately reflect Him to others, especially my children.
"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord"--Psalm 40:1-9 (New Living Translation)
But He doesn't stop with just promises that He will be glorified through my trials. He gives incredible promises to those of us that are waiting...waiting on Him...waiting and trusting in Him.
"He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 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 40:29-31 (New King James Version)
This verse just fills my heart with emotion. If you have ever endured a season that seemed never-ending, I am sure you know the feelings of weariness, a dragging heart, wanting to give up, contemplation of waving the white flag. This verse is like the most pure, clean water a man dying of thirst. It is the air to a woman who can't catch her breath. It overflows with hope!
"Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!"--Psalm 27:14 (New King James Version)
My prayers have been transformed as I have gone through this quest to understand and seek the Lord in this struggle to embrace waiting. I find that instead of begging for His timing to be harried...I am begging that He will strengthen my heart. That He will give me a new song to sing, and He will never let me forget the goodness He provides for me in this desert. Not to say that I do not have days and moments when I do wrestle with feelings of hopelessness in this situation, or wondering if it will be never ending...but I must remember what the Israelites were told just as they were about to enter the Promise Land after 40-years of wondering in the desert:
"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. ...For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land...and you will lack nothing....Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God...He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. ...so that in the end it might go well with you." --Deuteronomy 8:1-11 (NIV)
God is leading me in my desert. He is near, guiding us through the tough and "waterless" waiting times in our lives. Giving us exactly what we need to survive and endure it! And the confidence to know that His promises to us will come, but all in His timing. Just as the sun rises and sets perfectly, or seasons come and go in perfect order... I love how confident David is when he wrote Psalm 130:5-6:
"I pray to God—my life a prayer— and wait for what He'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning."-- (The MSG)
One final, maybe random, thought that is massively encouraging that I discovered about the word waiting. The english word "waiting" (as in waiting on the Lord) comes from the Hebrew word "Qavah." There are several definitions to describe this word, all which I expected, except for the last definition:
As we wait...we are not simply hitting the "pause button" on our lives, like I thought. No! Instead, God is lovingly binding Himself to us! I am a mother of 4-amazing fellas...all whom I would use a baby wrap to carry them when they were infants. So, when I hear the term "binding together," I picture the way a mother (or father) may wrap a new born child around her body to carry the child she will forever, unconditionally loves beyond description, through the day...close to her heart, safe in her arms. Isn't that a precious picture?
God knows some trials or deserts will be too much for us to endure...to long for us to travel...to heavy for us to bear. So He binds us to Him so that He can carry us through! It totally changes my perspective...the thought of God holding me close, as His child, close to His heart, safe in His arms... is all I need to hear to help me understand passionately waiting on the Lord!
"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken." --Psalm 62:1-2 (New Living Translation)
"I will thank You and confide in You forever, because You have done it [delivered me and kept me safe]. I will wait on, hope in and expect in Your name, for it is good..." --Psalm 52:9 (Amplified Bible)