‘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.
I feel like I have been doing waiting all wrong.
And I have done a lot of waiting. I’ve waited for many answers to prayers, long after I expected them to be answered. I’ve waited for God’s direction and for His solutions to problems. I’ve also waited, through tears, for spiritual understanding after confusing disappointments.
And my waiting has not looked remotely like Isaiah’s description.
Far from renewed strength, waiting has often felt like the life was draining from me. Rather than running, I barely crawled. At times I was in danger of completely losing hope. Instead of eagle-soaring, I curled up on the sofa with a bowl of ice-cream and a box set.
Because waiting is really hard. The most difficult times in my life have been lived in the space between the promises and the provisions of the Lord. Those times can feel hard and long and really desperate.
And yet James 1.2-4 says, ‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing.’
There is a better kind of waiting than the one I have experienced. There is useful patience in trials. There is a way to wait that reaps spiritual benefits.
So, how can I wait well?
I can make Jesus my focus. Isaiah is describing those who wait ‘on the Lord‘. Sometimes I am so fixated on circumstances they are all I think about. They become my first thought in the morning and my last thought at night. This is not good for me. And it will never produce faith or hope.
Turning my attention towards God’s truth and His faithfulness helps me to rest while I wait. This rest is a source of renewed strength and without it, I will wear out. Focusing on the goodness of God and His faithfulness to me makes my spirit strong and helps me to handle discouragement and doubt. By starting the day with worship, whether I feel like it or not, I am choosing to focus on God, not the situations I cannot control. By filling my thoughts with God’s word throughout the day I am choosing what He says over what my circumstances are telling me.
I can also saturate my waiting with gratefulness. Otherwise, I will become discontent. Praying for something that I desperately need from God without thanking Him for what He has already done is dangerous for my soul. It causes me to lose perspective and turns my waiting into whining. Gratefulness is a simple habit to learn. But don’t underestimate it, it is a powerful weapon and it will kill self-pity with one blow.
And finally, I can be expectant of blessings while I wait. Look at those verses in James again. There is a promise that patience during times of difficulty brings complete provision of everything that we need! Read those words and believe they are true. Then expect abundant provision to be produced when you wait with faith and hope.
When we find ourselves in a painful season of waiting, we can decide to view it as a conduit of blessing. We can expect to receive something that we are lacking. It is a promise from God. Times of waiting, however grueling they feel, are opportunities for supernatural provision. God uses trials to heal us, mature us, make us more like Jesus and to prepare us for whatever is next.
There a spiritual sweet spot in the gap between what I am believing for and what I have received. It is the spot where Christian maturity is produced and my readiness to receive blessing is expedited. If I don’t resist or resent these seasons, they won’t be wasted.
And I really don’t want to waste my waiting. It is already painful enough. On this grey Thursday, while I am waiting for God to answer, I want to squeeze out every drop of goodness. I want to look to Him, worship Him, thank him and expect Him to provide everything that I need.
I want to never waste an ounce of waiting and then by God’s grace, I will be ready for the answer when it comes.