The Burden of Waiting

But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 BSB).

One of the things that is most difficult for us to accept is that we really cannot do anything in our own strength. We are entirely dependent upon God in everything–whether we like it or not!

This is most obvious when it comes to the physical processes of life. None of us did anything to bring ourselves into existence. Even if a person doesn’t believe in God, each of us must accept that our individual lives were brought into being by the will of biological parents who did not bother to consult our opinion on the matter. Similarly, although we all have limited control over some of our bodily functions, such as eating, breathing, moving our hands, and controlling our bowels, humans do not have the ability to cause their hearts either to stop beating or to start beating. Our lives are at the mercy of forces that are beyond our ability to understand.

We live under an illusion of control. This is because there are things that we can do that demonstrate our ability to change a situation, which causes us to think that we ought to be able to change everything. God gives us limited free will to change some things, but He restricts our ability to change others.

Consider this story. Once there was a man who sat in his car at a red light that would not change. Eventually, the man thought to himself, “I am tired of waiting at this intersection, and I don’t see any traffic coming for miles in either direction, so I am going to stop waiting here like a fool!” Wouldn’t you know it? The very minute the man took his foot off the brake pedal and rolled into the intersection, the light turned green. The man had become tired of waiting and did not want to surrender his life to the control of a traffic light. He wanted to take matters into his own hands and act. Although he had waited patiently for several minutes, his efforts were ruined at the very last moment when he acted in disobedience.

Are you waiting at an intersection in life? Are you tired of waiting for God to give you the “green light” to move forward? Are you like the man behind the wheel of his car, impatient, frustrated, and powerless over your situation? What is God teaching you as you wait? How is God testing you?

Moment by moment, your physical self is obediently submitting to God’s will for you. Your heart patiently pumps, supplying life-giving blood to every part of your body. Your lungs draw in breath, supplying life-giving oxygen to your blood. These are two signs that God is constantly at work in you, but He works in other ways, too. He commands your digestion to process food. He commands your skin to heal from cuts and bruises. He commands your hair and fingernails to grow. He commands your mouth to create saliva and your body to produce sweat. Your body, unconsciously, is entirely submitted to the will of God.

But is your mind submitted? Does your soul have a will that–like your body–is obedient, patient, and submitted to God’s good purposes for you? It may be that God has brought you to a red light in your life for the very purpose of learning to trust Him more. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a soul that is as obedient to God’s will for your life as your heart is?

John Milton, a famous poet from England, began to go blind in his mid-forties. This was a personal tragedy for Milton because previously he had earned his livelihood through reading and writing, which would be impossible tasks for him to continue without eyesight. As darkness began to cloud his vision, he penned one of his most famous poems, Sonnet 19, in which he complained that he would no longer be able to serve God without the ability to see. However, in the very last line of the poem, Milton humbly accepts how he can best serve God as he writes, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Waiting is a burden. It requires complete surrender to God’s will. We do not always know what lies in store for us in the future, but God does. Learning to submit to God’s will in our lives–even in waiting–is one of the most difficult lessons we will ever learn, but God promises us in His Word that those who wait upon God will never grow weary. Those who have learned to hope patiently in God, submitted entirely to His will for us, will remain strong forever and ever. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

You see, there is a promise in Isaiah 40:31. God has a plan for you to move forward, not only to walk but to run. But first, He will strengthen you in the process of waiting in humble obedience to His will, and trusting in His provision for your life.

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[If you would like to talk to someone about patiently discerning God’s will for your life, click here to set up an appointment with a Christian counselor].

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