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those who wait upon the Lord

waiting. one of the hardest disciplines, isn't it? for me, anyway. i'm not the most patient person in the world... just ask my 2 year old.

waiting comes in all forms. sometimes they're serious and life-changing things that we wait and hope and pray for, and sometimes they're just daily little things that pop up in our path. we pray and pray for God to work in our circumstances. to change them, make them go away, make them better. 

but what if God had a different lesson for us to learn in the waiting?

some of you are waiting for a baby. either because you're dealing with the heartache of infertility or you're navigating the difficult waters of adoption. 

some of you are waiting for a wayward child to return. either to your home or to your heart. a broken relationship needs mending and you're waiting.

some are waiting for your husband to rise up and fill his role as spiritual leader in your house. you're waiting for his repentance or his realization that he needs Jesus to guide him everyday. maybe you're praying for him to know Jesus at all.

others are praying for physical healing, either your own or that of someone close to you.  in my opinion, this feels like the most desperate kind of waiting.

you or your husband might be searching for a job, losing your home, trying to buy a new home, praying for God to bring friends into your life, trying to find a church home, praying that your toddler will obey. there are a million different things, many i didn't mention. at any given time, you might be praying for more than one of these.

i'm waiting right now too. for more than one of those that i listed above. it's hard. i pray daily, sometimes all day, for the desires of my heart. and you know what? i think that God desires them too. for me, and for Him, and for the other people it would be affecting... they're good things. and even though they may be good things, and the kind of thing God should desire, they might not be the best things on the scheme of His kingdom plan.

sometimes God wants to teach us in the waiting. 

patience? sure. reliance on Him? yeah, that too. 

but there's something much bigger. something much more life-altering and freeing and precious that He's been showing me.

i don't know about you, but when God really wants to teach me something, it seems like He gives me ample time to learn it. He just keeps giving me the same opportunities to grow, or He'll have me reading blogs and articles and books and hearing sermons and songs, all related to the same thing. that's what He's doing right now, when it comes to waiting. when it comes to praying for something so fervently and desiring it more than anything else in this world, there's something earth shattering that He really wants me to grasp. 

God tells us in Isaiah 40:31 that

"those who hope in the LORD
[some translations say "those that wait upon the Lord"] 
will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary, 
they will walk and not be faint." 

and i believe it. i've always believed that it should be true, but i never quite felt like it was true for me. my strength wasn't always being renewed. lots of times i felt defeated and hopeless, even as i prayed and prayed. did i not have enough faith? was i not patient enough? did i not love God enough? if this wasn't happening for me [the renewing of the strength], there must be something wrong with me... and usually that's a fair assessment. because if i believe that everything God says is Truth, there must be something else that's in the way of it feeling true to me, or there's something off in my comprehension of it. and as time unfolded and the waiting got harder, i began to question this. 

one morning i sat in Bible study and i listened to Beth Moore. at the very end of one of her Esther videos [session 5, to be exact], she concluded with something that she says God gave her insight into just days earlier. like, she hadn't realized this all her life, until just recently [which greatly comforted me, since i was struggling with the same thing. it meant there wasn't something wrong with me, because, after all, Beth Moore had just figured it out, right?]

she said, and i'm paraphrasing, that she'd always loved the passage in Isaiah that i shared above. but she just couldn't quite understand why her strength didn't always seem renewed as she hoped in the Lord [yes, me too!?]. until she realized that she wasn't actually hoping in the Lord alone, but that she was hoping in His ability to change her circumstances or answer her prayer favorably. He was not the sole object of her hope. but the circumstances being changed was the object of her hope. her focus never really was Him alone. it was always Him, plus how can He help me and how can He change these circumstances?

does that just open your eyes up to a whole new Truth? a whole new practice and way of living?

so often i pray desperate prayers [which are not wrong by the way] and i get myself so hyper-focussed on "the thing" that i'm not actually hoping in the Lord just plain for who He is. instead, i'm hoping to see what He can do for me. really, i'm hoping that He can and will meet my needs in the precise way that i think they should be met. it needs to play out like my mind's eye imagines it. since when has God worked like that? 

God isn't on our time table. He's completely outside of time, and His plan is sovereign and infinite and considers all things. we are so finite it's impossible for us to see the big picture. we might desire something to happen so badly, but it might never be something God intends to give to us. that's the honest truth. 

waiting upon the circumstances to change? that doesn't renew our strength.

 but putting our hope in the Lord, the gospel of Jesus Christ and his coming again, the hope of eternal life... that is hope rightly placed. hoping in those things will renew our strength.

Lauren Chandler, wife of  pastor/speaker/writer Matt Chandler, explains it this way:
There is weight in waiting. It is a gravity that pulls us toward Him. Very few things offer relief or respite but the presence of God and the healing balm of His word. 
This weight is a heaviness that presses us down, sometimes on our faces. Many times in my waiting the Lord has shown me that I desire the thing on which I wait more than I desire Him. The realization of my idolatry and the unrelenting kindness of God even in the midst of it leads me to confession and repentance.
[read the entire post here]

there is something so graciously convicting about the way she calls it idolatry, isn't there? it is so typical, i think, for us to believe we're on the right track when we pray for things. but in our humanity, we long so deeply for our circumstances to change that we miss the entire point of the trial in the first place- which is to draw us near to His presence, to help us dwell in His peace and walk in His power. it's all about relationship with Him.

i would encourage you to pray for those things you're waiting on, pray as desperately and fervently as you need to. God hears and God knows and God comforts. but then do yourself a favor, and end those prayers with a simple declaration of trust in the Lord. and then focus your attention and affections back to Him, his Son, his Grace, his Love for you. those thoughts will refresh your mind and renew your strength like nothing else ever could, including the circumstances turning out in your favor.

whether or not my circumstances change, whether or not anything fruitful comes from my prayers, God is still God. He has never left me. He loves me lavishly and unconditionally and He has a plan for my life that is far greater than i could ever imagine. no matter what, i know that God will be glorified and i will be safe.

Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life. Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties.  This is a false hope! As I told my disciples: in the world you will have troubleLink your hope not to problem solving in this life, but to the promise of an eternity of problem-free life in heaven... it is possible to enjoy me and glorify Me in the midst of adverse circumstances. In fact, My light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark. Jesus Calling [pg. 27]


linking up with Jami

Comments

  1. oh, aly! THANK you so much.
    just what i need now. the lord is good.

    love you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, I needed to hear this today. I too have been waiting. While I've thought I've been waiting on the LORD I'm starting to really see now that I'm just waiting for Him to change my circumstances. My trust in Him falters at every negative answer to my pleading prayers. I needed to read this post today. Thank you for these wonderful words of encouragement!

    I've been following you for just a little while, but I love your blog! God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  4. oh aly, i SO needed this. and IM passing it on to my husband today too...I know it will greatly bless Him. and that is SUCH a paradigm-shifting perspective that I often do hope in how He can change things instead of in HIM. Thanks for sharing girl, really thank you. love you!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. WOW. i needed that perspective shift.....thanks!
    <3 <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank God He isn't on our timeline right?
    Also, can you just write a book or something?
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete

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