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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Waiting Game

But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. Isaiah 40:31 (MSG)

Treasured friend, 

Patience may be a virtue, but it’s not one of mine. Yet the Bible's wisdom literature (Psalms and Ecclesiastes, in particular) have a lot to say about this virtue of waiting—especially of waiting patiently for the Lord to intervene on our behalf.

It could be in the big stuff—or the daily stuff. We know enough of our God to know He is aware and He stands waiting, too. He waits beside us and in us, ready to act on our behalf.

Today, I’m thinking about patience, because this moment while I write three of my caregiving friends are waiting for the big stuff. They sit numbly expecting news of the outcome of their parents’ heart tests and surgeries. One is physically sitting in her office at work, at her desk, looking like all is normal—except it isn’t, because her heart is in another state, anxiously awaiting word from family members who are nearby as her father's life is in the heart-surgeon’s hands. The others are, like Mom and I have been so many times over so many years, sitting stiffly in the plastic chairs of the hospital waiting room, sipping burned coffee from Styrofoam cups without even noticing the acrid flavor, blankly flipping frizzled magazine pages, and stealing furtive glances toward OR doors that sport the menacing warning: No Admittance Beyond This Point. Waiting room attendants know not to make eye contact with waitees—because this is a time of introspection, of fear, of coming face to face with the unknown. There’s nothing any other person, however trained or empathetic, can really do for the waitees in those moments. Nothing except pray, which is what I'm doing for each of these friends today.

There are no guarantees. Actually, there is one guarantee—if the rapture doesn’t come in the mean time, all of us will face this moment—both with our loved ones and for ourselves—and the outcome won’t be what our humanness wants to hear.

In our waiting room times with Dad, we’ve been so relieved to see a smiling surgeon emerge with a smug look of his having cheated eternity on Dad’s behalf—at least for now. But, I can remember once while we were waiting for Dad, some church friends were sitting beside us—and their news from the surgeon wasn’t nearly so good.

I suppose that’s what makes the wait so long—and the dependence on our God so great. I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases the familiar Scripture above: wait upon God … get fresh strength. It’s so vibrant. And so direct. Strength to face whatever. Strength from the hand and nature of a loving God. Just knowing God knows and cares and supports and loves us through these times is immeasurably strengthening. And His strength, like the living water of life He offers at our salvation, is limitless—fresh—sweet.

In case you have a waiting room in your future—or in your day, today—I’d like to share a list of Scriptures that mean something to me in those hours. I gleaned this particular list from a book called “Treasury” that comes with my WORDsearch Bible Software library. (Every verse in the ESV translation has similar lists of other times its key topics appear throughout both Testaments.) It’s a treasure I’ve discovered only recently—and hope it brings you comfort, joy—and yes, especially strength—today:


Isa 8:17 — I will wait for the LORD… and I will hope in him.

Isa 25:9 — It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Isa 30:18 — Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Ps 25:3 — Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame

Ps 25:5 — Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

Ps 25:21 — May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.

Ps 27:14 — Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Ps 40:1 — I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.

Ps 123:2 — Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.

La 3:25 — The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

La 3:26 — It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Ro 8:25 — But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

1Th 1:10 — and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.


Take a few moments, if you would, to meditate on each of those truths, one by one. Several have become especially meaningful to me as I've done that. Here's what jumped out at me: None who wait for the Lord will be ashamed … the Lord inclines to and answers our cries … our God will have mercy on us … the Lord is good to the soul who seeks Him … we may not see it, but we can hope in patience—and assurance.

And the best of all, the one that gives real strength to every believer in the waiting room …the reminder of that last verse from 1 Thessalonians: this isn’t all there is. We wait, more than anything, for the Son of God, once dead and now alive forever more, to deliver us once and for all and carry us into His eternal kingdom—more alive than we’ve ever been, and in perfect health from that moment throughout eternity.

So, my waiting friends, I pray for you today, that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would grant you peace and grace in your anxious times—and renewed assurance that this life, in its entirety, is only a dim and slim moment in light of a glorious eternity.

I pray for you and your loved ones the assurance of salvation that comes from placing your faith in Jesus Christ's sacrifice of His own life on Calvary--to pay for all of our sins: yours, theirs and mine. If you have trusted in His death and resurrection on your behalf, you will indeed find fresh strength in your waiting room--because the Lord of Heaven and Earth calls you His very own child and promises to be with you always.

Take courage, my friend. Take courage!

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

© 2011, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com