Do you ever get frustrated by what appears to be a lack of response from God to your seemingly dire circumstances? Do you feel like you’re constantly asking for help, pleading for direction, begging for a way out of indecision or difficulty? Or maybe you have it all figured out, your plans finalized in your own mind while waiting for God to sign off on them, enabling you to feel empowered and right in your decisions. Both are issues based on a misconception of who God really is – or His function in our lives. For God cannot be badgered into revealing – or changing – his will for our lives, responding to whining and crying just to shut us up; nor can we force or manipulate him into backing our plans. Simply put, we have no right to self-righteously expect, let alone demand anything from him.
The first and hardest thing we need to do when faced with adversity or uncertainty is to calm down, centering our minds on God’s purposes – which won’t always mirror ours – and then wait, listen and obey. Sometimes we can’t hear his response to our prayers because of the incessant noise we’re making. (or listening to) At times we don’t like the answer we already know we’re going to get so we continue presenting our own preference, hoping he’ll change his mind. At other times we’re beside ourselves with fear and grief and don’t know what to think or how to respond – not knowing how to seek help or accept comfort from God or anyone else; which certainly isn’t conducive to any sort of decision making at all. That’s why it’s especially important during times of stress and emotional upset not to make any long-term plans and important decisions until we’ve had time to calm down and clear our heads – refocusing our thoughts and re-energizing our bodies, preferably in Christ and his will. All of which is difficult to do, especially when hard times demand some kind of response; making it particularly important for us to learn the art of waiting on the Lord before trials come our way. As, “the Lord longs to be generous to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Is. 30:18 (See also Psalm 27:14 & 130:5)
But what does that mean? A crisis demands some kind of response. We can’t just do nothing! Which is not what waiting is all about. Waiting on the Lord is acknowledging we don’t have all the answers, He does. Waiting on the Lord is all about looking for guidance, direction and peace of mind – before difficulties arise that skew our sense of purpose and plans for life. Waiting for the Lord is exactly that, allowing Him to lead, guide and direct – as He sees fit – and accepting his direction with gratitude and certainty that his way will always trump our own.
Waiting is quiet confidence. An acceptance of God’s sovereignty over our lives. The realization that he will always lead us better than we can lead ourselves. For just as, “…repentance and rest is (our) salvation…” Likewise, “…quietness and trust is (our) strength.” Is. 30:15 (See also Is. 32:17)
Sometimes that’s a lesson we balk at learning; one we must be pointedly taught. A good example being Saul of Tarsus, before he became the Apostle Paul. Saul believed he had a fail-proof plan. He was probably from a well-to-do family, was certainly well-educated; he was focused, energetic, demanding of himself as well as others. He knew who he was and what he was about; and then God got hold of him.
It was on his fateful trip to Damascus, doing what Saul felt God wanted done, that things took a decidedly unexpected turn. He hadn’t asked for advice, sought guidance or listened to opposing opinions. He was doing what he believed had to be done. So God literally struck him down, putting him on his knees; so shattering his world that he had no recourse but to look for help. He was forced to quit telling God what he was about and beg Him to reveal His purpose for his life.
For three days he was blind, not knowing if he would ever see again. Whether too distraught or as a matter of spiritual practice he hadn’t eaten or drank anything for days; being desperate to understand what had happened to him and why. And maybe more importantly, who was behind it all? What a terrifying experience. And yet it took that kind of intervention on God’s part to get Saul to a place where he would willingly listen to His voice.
I’m sure Saul was distraught in his prayer for relief and understanding at first. But at some point, I believe he became still; either through exhaustion or the benefit of his former training – possibly as a result of both – and began to genuinely listen. He had probably exhausted his ability to even form the words he needed to convey his fear, sorrow and desire to understand – and waited – for whatever was to happen next. And it was at that point, and usually that point only, that God could truly answer his prayer; very specifically and dramatically. Not in accordance with Saul’s previous plans and expectations but in a way that fully embraced and refocused Saul’s natural abilities, realigning his energy and passion in a way that brought peace and joy – as well as suffering – to Saul and glory to God. (See 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 & 12:1-10)
As Saul strove for a genuine understanding of God and placed himself totally at His disposal, he because Paul. And precisely because of the uncertainties and difficulties of his life, he disciplined himself to be quiet before the Lord; developing confidence in the dependableness of a God who saw the “big picture” as opposed to Paul’s limited vision of what he was experiencing at the moment. He undoubtedly related to and rejoiced in Is. 40:27-31, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” As, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope (or wait – KJ) in 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.”
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