Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Sunday, August 29, 2010

“The Waiting Game”

I traveled recently with my dad to Pittsburgh. It was finally time for the cat scan to determine the stage of his cancer and find out whether the disease had spread. Following the cat scan, we proceeded to the clinic where we would finally know exactly what we were dealing with…or so we thought.

The surgeon explained that a questionable spot showed up on the scan. The finding was undetermined until the radiologist could take a better look. If the spot was not classified as cancer, it was detected early as a stage one. If the spot was cancer, he would jump to a stage four. Now, if you are familiar with cancer language you’ll realize that a jump from stage one to stage four is HUGE. It would mean a more advanced cancer with more complicated treatment.

So, we play the waiting game. Face it! No one likes to wait! It starts very young, doesn’t it? Children have a knack for impatience. Whether it’s a baby's cries for nourishment, a child getting caught shaking the presents beneath the Christmas tree, or “Are we there yet?” asked a thousand times while traveling, kids find it hard to practice patience. But are adults any better? Getting angry when there’s 15 cash registers and only 3 are open, recording a favorite TV program just to fast forward through all the commercials, or bashing a hand against the steering wheel while cursing a slow moving vehicle in a no-passing zone…we just don’t like inconvenience!

Many of us are in a season of waiting. You may be single waiting for the perfect mate. Maybe you’re out of work, waiting on a job to open up. Perhaps you’re a couple waiting to get pregnant, or even waiting for a wayward child to return home. Others may be waiting on their own test results. No matter the case, these examples of waiting are more than just an inconvenience. This waiting can be painful, helpless, and downright fearful at times. It demands our focus, our thoughts and our energy, and places our life on hold even though it continues to pass us by.

So just how are we supposed to wait? And what are we supposed to do while we wait? First, I think it’s important to point out what waiting on the Lord is NOT. This waiting is NOT passive. It’s not just sitting around hoping it will get better. Biblical waiting is active, is disciplined, is confident, is trusting, is enduring. It’s an active daily decision to put your hope and trust in the Lord.

The act of waiting requires PATIENT HUMILITY. To wait means that I must recognize that I am NOT in control, the timing is NOT up to me, and I do NOT have all the answers. So just what is the result of humbleness? Proverbs 11:2 tells us that pride brings us disgrace, but the reward of humility is wisdom. Destruction is the result of a prideful heart, but a humble heart brings honor, (Proverbs 18:12). In Micah chapter 6, verse 8 tells us, “He has showed you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” We all have been taught that a verb is an action word. The Lord asks us to not just be humble, but to WALK humbly with Him. Walking humbly with the Lord is crucial to actively waiting.

A second component of active waiting is PATIENT TRUST. Do I trust God that He has good reasons for me to wait? Do I honestly trust that God knows what He’s doing? “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4) God is our eternal rock and the reward for our active trust in Him is perfect peace. Psalm 125:1-2 liken those who trust in the Lord to Mount Zion which cannot be shaken and endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so also the Lord surrounds His people. And yet in a more familiar passage, we learn that we must trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. In all our ways we should acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths! (Proverbs 3:5-6) Acknowledging God in all our ways is active trust and in doing so, He promises us a steadfast mind which leads to peace. He assures us that we cannot be shaken, and He will provide us with direction.

PATIENT PRAYER is yet another component to active waiting. James 5 asks us, are you in trouble? You should pray. Are you happy? You should sing songs of praise. Are you sick? You should call the church to pray over you. We are to offer our prayers up in faith and to pray for one another. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Jesus also instructs in Luke 18 to pray and not give up. We see a picture of the widow as she continually sought the unjust judge for justice. For some time he refused her, but because of her persistence the judge granted her plea. “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (vs. 7) Prayer is active, whether you are speaking or listening. Both are crucial to tapping into the heart of God. Don't give up!

One more key to active waiting is a PATIENT HOPE that is irrepressible. Paul writes in Romans 8 concerning this. “Hope that is seen is not hope at all. For who hopes for what is seen?” In other words, if I already had it, I wouldn’t have to hope for it. But, if we actively hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 12 instructs us to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust - there may yet be hope.” Seeking, waiting, bearing the yoke, burying our face in the dust in prayer… each is active response. Paul goes on to tell us, “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.” The Lord answers before we call and hears while we still are speaking. (Isaiah 65:24) The Lord rescues and protects those who acknowledge His name. He will answer those who call upon Him. He will be with those in trouble and will deliver them. (Psalm 91:14-15)

If you are experiencing a time of waiting, and are questioning God’s hand, allow me to encourage you to evaluate the process by which you wait. Are you actively waiting? Are you waiting with humility? Do you confidently trust God? Are you praying daily about your situation? Do you possess an irrepressible hope? If what you ask for is not in God’s plan for your life, is He alone enough for you? Just remember, the transformation that takes place in us while we wait is more important than the very thing we wait for.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary. They shall walk and not faint“ (Isaiah 40:30-31)

1 comment:

  1. As my husband says "Hurry up and WAIT!" Sometimes its so hard to wait for whatever the circumstance in a life that is full of hurried, busy, fastness. Your post is an outlet for many to read and learn how to understand Gods word in this area of patience, trust and hope through prayer and relying on God.