Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 15, 2010

How Do You Wait?

We do a lot of waiting in this life. We wait in lines at supermarkets, department stores, and ticket counters. We wait for our turns at doctors’ offices, for tables at restaurants, and for our kids at sports practices. Much of our days are spent simply waiting. But some waits are more difficult than others. Consider the young mother who must wait to find out if the mass in her abdomen is cancer. Or what about the parents who wait anxiously to hear from their daughter in Chile after the devastating earthquake? Then there are the young parents who sit as a vigil beside their young child’s bedside, waiting for any sign of life. Such waits as these are difficult to say the least.

The Bible tells the story of Hannah, a woman who waited. Hannah was one of the two wives of Elkanah. The other wife of Elkanah was Peninnah. Hannah had no children, but Peninnah had children. The Bible tells us that Peninnah provoked Hannah because she had no children. In other words, she made Hannah’s life miserable, constantly reminding her that she was blessed with sons and daughters, but that Hannah had none. One year as they traveled to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord, Hannah, in great bitterness of spirit, went to the tabernacle and poured out her heart to God. She probably told Him how much she wanted a son. She more than likely shared how Peninnah provoked her and made her so sad. The Scripture tells us she wept before God and prayed that He would give her a child. Eli, the priest, observed Hannah and at first thought she was drunk with wine. After Hannah explained why she was sorrowful, Eli encouraged her to go in peace that God had heard her prayer. So Hannah went home and waited.

Note that nothing had changed when Hannah left the tabernacle. She still was childless. She was probably still taunted and harassed by Peninnah. But 1 Samuel 1:18b states that she “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” She went home, continued her life as usual, and waited. Hannah practiced what David advised in Psalm 37:7a:  “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret …” And also in Psalm 62:1-2: “Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.”

Contrast Hannah’s wait for a child with that of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. God had promised to make Abraham a great nation, yet Sarah remained childless. Undoubtedly upset about her inability to conceive, Sarah took matters into her own hands and gave her maid, Hagar, to Abraham in hopes of having an heir. Instead of solving her problem, however, Hagar’s conception and birth of Ishmael created additional problems and woes (see Genesis 16).

How do you wait? Are you like Hannah, taking everything straight to God and trusting Him to handle it and work things out? Or are you more like Sarah, taking things into your own hands? I must say, more times than I would like to admit, I try to be a fixer. I fret and I scheme and I try to work things out. But I’ve also learned that more often than not, my attempts to fix things ultimately create bigger problems.

Isaiah 64:4 reminds us that how we wait says a lot about how we trust God. “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides You, Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” If we really believe that God will act for us, we are better able to wait patiently for Him to work things out.

But what about those times when God doesn’t work things out the way we hoped? We believed God would act for us, but the diagnosis was cancer. We trusted God to take care of things, but a loved one died. We struggle because it seems that God didn’t act for us. Yet believing that God will act also involves trusting in His wisdom regarding the outcome. We have to believe that God is in control and that we can trust His wisdom. ‘”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts”’ (Isaiah 55:8-9). When we place our absolute trust in God and His wisdom, we can then wait with confidence and peace. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).

So the next time we need to wait, let’s try turning the situation over to God and waiting on Him to work things out. We can rest in His promise that “…they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me” (Isaiah 49:23). Then, like Hannah, we can wait with peace and courage. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).

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