The Secret of Perseverance
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.
Waiting is such a drag most of us hate waiting with a passion! When we get in any line (at a red light, at the grocery store checkout, at a ticket window, or anywhere else), we first scan the available lines to see which one might move faster, and after we make our choice, we watch people who got in the other lines when we got in ours. If any of them move faster, we boil!
Waiting is an essential part of God’s plan for our lives, but it’s not just killing time. When we “wait on the Lord“, our focus is on Him, His goals, and His path for us. We wait expectantly, not impatiently, and we are increasingly convinced that God is up to something – something good- that we haven’t experienced before. We rivet our hearts on God’s character, and we are sure that waiting on Him to act will be worth every second.
The secret of perseverance isn’t to grit our teeth as time passes. The secret is to focus. We wait expectantly, trusting that a good, wise, all knowing God will accomplish His gracious purpose and in His good time. We trust that while we wait he’s preparing the situation, other people, or us for something special.
“The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting. Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.“
Of all the things we do in life, perhaps waiting is one of the most challenging. Usually we wait because the situation is out of our hands and is largely dependent on someone else. It isn’t that waiting is not part of life and there could be such a thing as life without waiting; what we do while we wait is the important thing. We all have to wait, but how we wait defines us. We have various methods to cope with waiting. Many of them are futile actions. For example, we watch the clock but the hands don’t move any faster. We can become frustrated but the traffic doesn’t speed up. We can be waiting in someone to show up but they don’t arrive any sooner. Even as we wait on God, there isn’t anything we can do to speed up the process.
Like small children, just put in the car seat for a trip, we begin to say, “Are we there yet?” In our fast-paced world, we usually miss the scenery along the journey because we’re so anxious to arrive at our destination.
Isaiah opens us up to thinking about what can happen while we wait. In this case he’s talking about when we’re waiting on God to move or God to answer. He says that there are things we can expect to receive when we learn to wait on the Lord. We receive strength, we are lifted up, we are reenergized, and we are nourished in the wait.
How are these things possible? In the Hebrew, the word wait means to intertwine. So the purpose of waiting, then, is to take time to wrap ourselves in God and to be wrapped by God. I don’t think that’s wasted time, but time well spent. What makes waiting frustrating to many is they perceive that as wasted time. They focus on what they could be doing instead of just waiting. What Isaiah is trying to teach us is that wait-time is valuable time for it gives space for us to draw nearer to God, to get to know Him better and to find renewed hope and energy.
Quite often as Sherry and I have traveled both in life and from place to place, we have had to wait. Sometimes we have been stuck in traffic for hours. Unfortunately for me, sometimes those have been more frustrating minutes because I had somewhere to be but I’m learning to use that time better. I have realized that it is a gift of God. Both of us are busy and sometimes we don’t have a lot of time to spend with each other, so when we’re stuck in traffic, we are learning to use that time to share our thoughts and feelings with each other.
I’m learning that as we wait on life, whatever is causing that wait, we can also spend that time wisely communicating with God and receiving from Him. I can say truthfully that in those times of waiting my prayer life has increased, my relationship with God deepened and I’ve grown spiritually.
With our natural bodies, it’s necessary to take time to rest and to eat and it is equally true for our spirits. God has designed it so. I don’t think any of us could survive very long without rest or nourishment and so it’s important for us to “wait” while we are caring for our bodies. There have been times when I’ve tried to “eat on the fly” wolfing food down because it was an interruption rather than a pleasure. And I usually get sick. I think my body is trying to tell me something! Sometimes I’ve missed meals because I was too busy and found myself weak. All truth is parallel. These same principles apply to us spiritually.
In Psalm 23, David says that the Shepherd, “makes me lie down in green pastures.” The Shepherd knows that unless He brings us to a place and “makes us lie down” we would run until we were exhausted, tired and subject to becoming sick. So He makes us wait and while we wait, He feeds us.
Isaiah tells us that when God makes us wait it’s for our benefit. I realize we don’t always see that or enjoy it, but if we will use the wait time to become more wrapped up in God we will discover more strength, more of an uplift to our spirits and more endurance in this race of faith.
I encourage us to redirect our energy toward renewal rather than frustration. Renewal makes us better. Frustration changes nothing but is detrimental to us in almost every area of our lives.
“Teach me Lord to wait!”
Dr. John Thompson