Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. -Isaiah 64:4
Waiting sucks. Can I get an amen? I don’t like to wait for anything or anyone. Waiting is one of the most painful things to do in life for me. It is also one of the most critical parts of the Christian life.
I have been sharing a message in different settings recently that I title: Waiting on God with Intentional Action. It is a message that speaks to the tension we feel between those two dynamics. Some of us err on the side of passivity when we need to be proactive. We may feel overwhelmed or unsure where to begin or how to start, or what to do. Others of us, however, struggle with waiting on God and his timing. We get impatient and try to force things in our timing. And sometimes, we wrestle with both sides of this in different situations.
However, there is a way to take intentional action while waiting on God and wait on God even while taking deliberate action. And one of the things about waiting on God that has helped me the most is realizing waiting on God is a proactive act of faith itself. Actual waiting on God is anything but passive. In Hebrew, the term for “to wait” means to be “entwined.” The connotation speaks of being in tune and united in fellowship with the Lord. This kind of relationship requires a tremendous amount of discipline, focus, and energy. But it is the place where we are also receiving the life-giving strength and vitality of the Lord. We are connected closely to him and drawing upon his power in relationship and communion with him.
And when it comes to waiting on God to fulfill his promises to us, we are in good company. Think of all the saints through Scripture who waited a long time for God’s promises to come to pass in their lives. Abraham and Sarah were in the latter part of their lives before the son God promised them was born. There were 120 years between when God told Noah to build an ark and when the rains fell for the first time. Joseph waited a painful 17 years. Everything in his life seemed to be going in the opposite direction as his dreams indicated. The Israelite’s were slaves in Egypt for 400 years before being delivered. There was a 13-year gap between David being anointed king over Israel and when he assumed the kingship. Even then, it would be another seven years before he ruled over all Israel. Generations waited for the promise of the Messiah. Prophecies regarding Jesus’ first coming took hundreds, even a couple of thousand years from when the promise was given and repeated. Even then, Jesus didn’t begin his public ministry until he was 30 years old. And here we are waiting for Jesus’ second coming a couple of thousand years after he promised to return. God’s time is not our time!
Part of what it means to be a Christian is that we wait. But waiting is often painful and even confusing. In my book Hope Rising: Finding Hope in a Turbulent World, I wrote the following that has come out of my own life experience:
“Often, the real problem for us has to do with our expectations and the conclusions we draw from our circumstances. We expect life to be smooth sailing, and so when it’s not, we think God has abandoned us. We look at our circumstances and lose hope thinking everything is against us, because difficult things happen. We take God’s promises but do not see the usual painful process of those promises unfolding in ways that sometimes seem contrary to what he has promised. So, when life takes its seemingly unfavorable twists and turns, we get confused, discouraged, and lose hope. As God’s people, we often tend to emphasize his promises but fail to be honest about the process and pain that can be involved. That’s why I wanted to share these stories from Scripture, because they highlight the fact that life is messy, yet God is faithful. God’s path will not be a straight, smooth line. There will be setbacks, struggles, difficulties, and discouragements.” (Excerpt from Hope Rising, pg.12-13).
If you are in a place of waiting, take heart. You are in good company. And God is not passive. He is proactively working on your character to form you into the kind of person who can handle his promises when the time has arrived.
Hope Rising does not sugarcoat the stark realities of the world or the individual circumstances each of us may be facing. But it does tell real stories of hope rising from around the world, even from what seem to be the most hopeless situations. It’s also a call to each of us to bring hope to a world in need.
To order a copy click here: Hope Rising: Finding Hope in a Turbulent Word. All proceeds go to support the mission of ServeNow: Sharing Christ’s passion for the world by serving the most vulnerable through national churches and leaders.