Strength for the Wait: Understanding God’s Timing
Don’t lose heart.
I’m sensing a panic among some of you out there right now, and if I could I’d be throwing up my hands to stop you from falling off the cliff and giving up. There is a great sense of urgency. I want you to know – God is faithful.
I want to talk with you about waiting on God. This topic is HUGE, and I’m convinced that many people give up, jump ship, or abandon the promise right before God comes through. Don’t do it. Hang in there. I want to speak to those of you who are carrying the seed of God in you: You’re pregnant with something huge. Don’t abort. You’ve been given a promise that you are desperately waiting to see come to pass. And regardless of what it is, or the contingencies upon it, let’s just be honest, waiting is painful. I don’t think there is anything that will test our faith and character like waiting on the LORD.
I really want to encourage you. So grab a cup of joe and please have a seat. I’d like to chat with you for a bit.
The Promise of Exhaustion
Let’s just be honest, okay. Waiting on God is exhausting. It has the potential to shipwreck your faith if you’re not careful. Seriously. I’m not kidding. It can literally strip everything out of you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It demands an extraordinarily strong and tenacious faith. For those whom God is priming for great things, they’re often given assignments that require a long “waiting-room” period. I believe this is for several reasons, but before I go there. I want to hit on this point of exhaustion. It’s very real, and if we look closely, we’ll find it in scripture. Here we go…
Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint, (Isaiah 41:28-31, KJV, emphasis mine).
Did you catch it? I hope you did! Because what this is revealing is the exhaustion that accompanies waiting on God, thus the desperate need for renewal. We are finite beings, but God is eternal. His timing in your life is always congruent with the eternal plan. Therefore, we do get weary. We faint and fall. But God promises strength and He supplies it generously. Yet when we wait, we have to wait on the LORD – not the promise. And learning how to do that takes time, and it develops maturity in our relationship with God and in our faith walk.
Let’s just be real. Waiting on God can shipwreck your faith if you don’t know how to do that. I have a promise from God that I’ve been waiting more than 20 years to see come to pass. In that twenty years I’ve had my faith shipwrecked. I know precisely what that is like and how it happens. We shipwreck when we reach that point of exhaustion and stumble and fall – which is what this scripture defines. We don’t always know how long the wait is going to be, right? When God gives us something, it doesn’t always come with a timeline. We have to walk it out. Hence the fainting and falling spoken of here. But God does not grow weary. He does not stumble. He doesn’t falter. There is no searching of His understanding. So when we wait upon the LORD, He promises to renew our strength so that we can mount up with wings as eagles!
Only God can do that. That is NOT something we can do for ourselves. Therefore, I want to talk about how He gives us strength for the wait. Because there is nothing that will try your faith harder or exhaust you quicker. And when you’re waiting on God, who is eternal, you can feel like your life is literally slipping away.
If that is you – you’re not alone.
The Danger of Despair
I know how this happens. Your faith fails. Your hope is hemorrhaging. I’ve been there. Shipwreck is inevitable when we are tempted to give in to despair. And that is precisely what happened to me.
I remember reaching a point in my journey with God when I became so exhausted spiritually, emotionally, and mentally that I gave in to despair. This was a very subtle temptation at first. Yet the seed of that temptation grew until it had overgrown my faith. And I didn’t recognize it right away, until it was too late. This one nearly took me out of the game. My faith completely shipwrecked. And although that was not my intention, that’s precisely what happened. That season was one of the darkest I’ve ever known, and to this day I’m amazed I even survived it. Previous to that point, I had carried the promise of God doing everything I could to be obedient to God, to cooperate with Him, and to continue in the faith, when finally, I had met my end. There was nothing more to do, and the promise did not manifest.
I felt very cheated as my life seemed to slip by in years wasted. I reached a point where I was DONE.
It began with an underlying anger that I never addressed with God. Yet, in time it surfaced. I then realized just how angry I was. I could no longer stuff it. I was very, very angry with Him. Finally, I just gave up and I walked away from the promise and the call of God on my life. My relationship with Him suffered, and there were years of silence between us. I let go of the promise completely. As a result of that one decision, I subsequently made several others that were contrary to God’s call on my life. All of this was in a vain attempt to self-soothe and escape the pain. I just wanted out. I truly felt my life and efforts had been wasted on something that was never going to happen, and I didn’t understand why. Those decisions ended up bringing further devastation that took me down a wrong path. Yet after all I had suffered, God was still faithful – both to me, and to the promise He had given, shown, and spoken. And although I was silent toward Him, He spoke to me on a regular basis.
In all of this, I experienced nothing but His compassion. And it floored me.
I had let go right before the promise began to come to pass. Literally. When I finally returned to Him He revealed to me that season was all part of His plan. He was fully prepared for it. It didn’t blind-side the LORD one bit. What I encountered was what the scriptures call a trial of my faith. I had been tested.
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings, (Jeremiah 17:10, KJV).
I had to be tried, tested and proven. And you know what? When the gauntlet was thrown, I failed. Miserably. The LORD let me be sifted. So this was not about me even passing the test, because Jesus Christ had already passed it for me. The key was this: I had to come to that place where I had reached my end. Only then did the LORD renew my strength. Once I let go, He picked up. And what He brought to pass in my life was exactly what He promised – with precision. This journey included a harrowing experience that left me spiritually wrecked. But it also revealed to me that it’s not about me. It’s not about my ability to fulfill what only He can do and perform. He made it very clear: It’s about Him and His kingdom. Period. I had been sifted, just as Peter was, and what was in me was revealed. I had to see that and reckon with it. And I didn’t have it all together.
The LORD restored me completely. Today I’m walking in that promise, not because I fulfilled it, and not because I’m strong, but because of the LORD’s faithfulness and strength. Because, in truth, I had failed Him. And if He wanted to, He could have disqualified me. But He didn’t.
God is faithful.
If you have suffered shipwreck, or are about to suffer shipwreck, I want you to know that I’ve been there. I sympathize with the wait. It’s exhausting. It will try you unlike anything else can. I want you to know that God is faithful to His word despite our failures. He cannot lie, and He is able to save, heal, and fully restore and redeem us. But we must be tested, proven, tried, and humbled so that He can use us as He intends. Because none of this is about us. It’s all about Him.
So, you have a promise from God. Are there conditions or contingencies to that promise? If so, fulfill your duty the LORD has given you. Simple enough, right?
I’ve discovered many times that God’s promises are surprisingly unconditional, which we are about to plainly see in the following biblical examples. These promises are things we can’t fulfill or make happen, regardless of how hard we try. They are beyond us. Therefore, we enter into a waiting-room period wherein God transforms us and prepares us for what He has already prepared for us. So, let’s find out what God is really doing in the waiting room. Because once we understand His purpose in the waiting room, we receive His strength by which we are renewed and enabled to mount up with wings as eagles, just as Isaiah has spoken.
Let’s learn from our forefathers, the patriarchs, the greats who have gone before us. Their examples (I have outlined four) give us very clear pictures of what God’s waiting-room looks like, and what it’s all about.
ABRAHAM: Nomad | Father of Nations
Abraham was given the promise of Isaac at the age of seventy-five. We are told that Sarah was barren and his seed was as good as dead. He was one-hundred years old when Isaac was finally born, in which he waited 25 years to see the birth of this beloved promised child. And although he laid with Hagar who gave birth to Ishmael, God still honored him as our father of faith, from whom the promised seed came and the covenant blessing is given to all who believe in Christ. God’s purpose was to birth a divine bloodline that would bring forth the promised Messiah, by whom the blessing would extend to all nations.
JOSEPH: Favored Child | Ruler of Egypt
Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel, and therefore was the favored son of Jacob. He received two dreams at the age of seventeen, revealing the promise of wealth and leadership – even that above his brethren, and his father and mother. Yet, these dreams were veiled in great mystery. Little did Joseph know what awaited him for those dreams to come to pass. Within a very short time his life became one of rejection, slavery, suffering, and cruel injustice that could have cost him his life. Yet these conditions are precisely what prepared Joseph to govern the greatest and most advanced nation in the world – the nation of Egypt.
It was within Egypt that God planned to greatly multiply his people, the infant nation of Israel, bestowing upon them unsurpassed and enormous wealth, knowledge, and strength. Yet as Israel multiplied, so did her sufferings. The manner in which that multiplication came was therefore painful, laborious and long, lasting four-hundred years. By the time Israel was freed from Egypt’s slavery (as told in the book of Exodus), she had so greatly multiplied that Pharaoh feared being overtaken and outnumbered by her.
Joseph was thirty years old when he was made ruler of Egypt. Only then did he begin to see his dreams come to pass. Slowly, he gained insight into God’s plan. But it wasn’t until they were completely fulfilled when his brothers came and bowed before him, that he understood the dream’s true meaning. The path he had to travel, although painful and unjust, was all part of God’s plan. It was a journey that required a tenacious and unwavering faith that could have broken him had he denied God when given opportunity. Yet Joseph remained faithful to God and inherited the promise. As a result of Joseph’s faithfulness to God, not only was Israel spared, but the entire region. In this way, Joseph’s life is a type of Christ, having brought bread and life to the world around him. His Egyptian name meant “Savior”.
MOSES: Vagabond | Leader of Israel
Moses was eighty years old when he was called by God who visited him in the burning bush. And the Israelites, who were enslaved in Egypt, had long-awaited their liberty from slavery four-hundred years according to the prophecy given to Abraham. Again, Moses’ testimony of God’s faithfulness was revealed to Israel through great pain and tribulation.
Moses obeyed God and commanded Pharaoh to let His people go that they might worship Him in the wilderness. With each successive bidding God further hardened Pharaoh’s heart, who refused to let Israel go. In doing so, God revealed His glory, power, and justice to both Egypt and Israel with a series of ten plagues. Upon Egypt rested His judgment, yet upon Israel rested His blessing and divine protection. Finally, Pharaoh let Israel go with the first Passover whereby his firstborn died along with many others. Egypt wailed with mourning. Pharaoh’s heart had been broken, and Israel was told to flee from him quickly. Even so, in time God hardened his heart again and Pharaoh pursued Israel with a vengeance utilizing all the armies of Egypt. God again displayed His power and glory before His people in dividing the Red Sea. Israel escaped by one of the greatest miracles ever performed. Egypt pursued relentlessly, and God had them pinned. He drown them in the Red Sea. To this very day their chariots other remains can be found at the bottom. So we see the purpose of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Within moments, the entire Egyptian army was swallowed up in death. Egypt was foiled, becoming vulnerable to all her enemies. And God exalted Israel in the ears of every nation surrounding her. They cowered with fear. It was all part of the plan.
Moses led Israel in victory through the wilderness forty years before the promise of entering Canaan, the promised land, had finally come to pass. Talk about a waiting-room! And what did God do during those forty years? He purged Israel. And in doing so, any possible residue of Egyptian influence was entirely eradicated from His people. An entire generation perished. The Israel God raised was reared in His presence and by His word, living on miracles daily. They knew nothing different. Consequently, this was the Israel who had the faith to take the land God was giving them. Again, it was all part of the plan.
DAVID: Shepherd Boy | King of Israel
Being the youngest child of all Jesse’s children, David had to wait on God many years before becoming King of Israel. Having been anointed as a young man by the prophet Samuel, he was taken from the sheepfold, and didn’t inherit the throne until he was thirty years old. But much transpired during that time.
That intermission put David’s faith on trial. Saul sought his life to kill him, hunting him like a dog, and he lived a wandering nomadic life that prepared him for the throne. This intense and brutal season tried his faith in God, sharpened his leadership skills and abilities in warfare, refined his character, and most of all cultivated a deep and dependent intimacy upon God that could not have been gained any other way. David discovered precisely who his God really was. David is said many times to have “behaved himself wisely”.
David became known as a man whom God termed, “a man after my own heart”. To this day, King David is considered the greatest king who has ever lived, even despite his failures. Was it part of the plan? Absolutely.
On Wings of Eagles
Let’s talk about your promise from God. If you’ve reached your breaking point, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. God knows our weakness and frailty. And He’s prepared for it. It’s all part of the plan, and God is able to renew your strength and raise you up on wings as eagles when you wait upon THE LORD.
Don’t give up. Don’t jump ship. Don’t abort. Don’t despair. Don’t let your faith be shipwrecked. When we can understand what God is doing, we are fully able to cooperate with Him as the plan unfolds.
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait I say, on the LORD, (Psalm 27:14, KJV).
He is faithful, and He will bring it to pass in His time. So be ready.
He will give you strength for the wait. You will survive the waiting-room, even if you fail and fall. It’s all part of the plan.
Cheers & Shalom,