Wait on the Lord
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Psalm 27:14 (NKJV)
Can God count on you to hang in there until He finishes His work? You may be feeling trapped and stir crazy in the season of struggle or pain or difficulty or waiting that you are in. But if God decides that you are not coming out of it today, can you hold on and present yourself before the freshness of potential possibilities tomorrow, or next week, or next year?
Four masked men came into a church with assault rifles, screaming at the preacher and members during the worship service. Can you imagine that? They said that anyone who would deny their faith could leave safely, but the pastor had to stay and face the outcome. Silence filled the church. One after another, people began to rise from their seats and make their way to the exit. Church was now less than half full. The gunmen checked one last time to see if anybody else wanted to leave. Some people were sobbing. Some were praying. Some were looking steadfastly at the cross with eyes filled with tears. They were ready for whatever was about to come. The leader who gave the instructions gave one last command. Here's what he said: “Now preach, preacher. Here are your real members.” The men left quickly without anybody knowing who they were. The stunned people looked at each other and at all the empty seats and it dawned on them just how many were in the company week to week but had not bowed at the foot of the cross to wait on God or to trust Him in troubled times.
I don't know when God is going to release you from your time of trial or loneliness or fatigue or pain. I have no idea when the floodwaters are going to recede. I don't know when trouble is going to subside, but I know God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And with how faithful He has been to you in your past, can you not give Him more time? And if week after week you have to deal with your personal hardship, and deal with COVID, and deal with racism, and deal with all the struggles that plague you, isn't His good plan for your life worth the wait? The Bible tells us that while you're waiting, you may as well be of good courage, because if you can do that, He will strengthen your heart.
Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark.
Genesis 8:6-10 (NIV)
Noah survived 40 days of unrelenting waters released from the heavens, followed by 150 days of floating on the waters of the unknown. You would think that the last series of seven days, in which he sends out the raven and the dove, would have been more than enough to make him lose faith in whatever was supposed to be next.
But the lesson of this text is that what God is going to do in your future is worth the repeated attempts to move forward. Faith always believes in the “next time.”
God has a “next time” in your life. “Next time” is why Noah was able to send that dove out after the raven was unsuccessful. And when Noah had to open the window and let that dove back in, he didn't hesitate. He retrieved it and he waited another seven days. Then he opened the window again and repeated the cycle. Why? Because he never lost faith in the gift and possibility of a “next time.”
Thank God that Noah didn’t give up. Even though he must have been frustrated from all the time he'd been locked into that ark, Noah believed it was worth trying again. Noah decided that no matter how many times that dove returned, he would give it time and then make another attempt.
Every time life does something to make you have to shut that window because what you thought was next is not happening today, I need you to trust God enough that you’ll decide, “I don't care how long I have to wait; when it's my turn to show up, I'm going to show up and believe that if it didn't happen before it can happen now.”
Consider the unsuccessful attempts of your past. What would you do differently next time? How would you think differently next time? What would you say? How slow would you be to move? What counsel would you seek? What patience would you exercise? What prayers would you offer? What apology would you ask for? What forgiveness would you extend? What mercy would you display? What dream would you hold tighter? Whatever those questions are, try to answer them in ways that honor God and demonstrate your faith.
That dove returning and the raven searching for a perch and not being able to find it—these are not signs of “never.” There is a “next time.” And the best offering you can give to God is to keep that window open for “not right now” and to let it rest with you for just a little while longer. Treat it right and steward it faithfully, because a “next time” is coming.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18 (NKJV)
There are times when you find yourself caught in the space between “almost” and “not yet.” It’s a frustrating place to be. Whether it’s hours, days, months, or years, those trying moments of waiting and feeling stuck can pull on you.
But I’m here to remind you that God has made you strong enough to endure It. He’s made you capable enough to handle it. He’s made you spiritual enough to grow from it. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” You’re not made just for the weeping and the joy; you are made for the space in the middle too.
We have, in Jesus Christ, the capacity to endure anything. You have much more endurance than you could ever know. You are made strong enough, tough enough, resilient enough, and—with Christ—spiritual enough to handle those in-between times.
You have spiritual capacities in you that have been growing and maturing that are not revealed until the time they are most needed. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you have to stand in front of the giant, or speak in front of the Pharaoh, or step out onto the waves, or release your arrow, or stretch out your rod, or patiently wait for the floodwaters to recede.
He makes you deal with delay and setback and disappointment and failed deadlines and people’s broken promises…and then He shows you that you’re still living, still thriving, still progressing, still producing. And it’s all evidence that your endurance has been very much a part of God’s work in your life.
God makes you able to handle whatever you have to handle when it’s your time to handle it. He gives you the spiritual capacity to make it through.
God Remembers You
But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
I am sure Noah built the ark wondering if his faith had been properly connected to God, since he was building when there had been no significant rain on the earth. I suppose he would have felt more greatly assured about it had he not been the only one building, but he was. He nonetheless followed his stirred faith, and he built the ark as God commanded.
The reward for him, I suspect, is when he shuts that door to the constructed ark, having collected his family and a male and female of every living thing on the earth, and he hears the release of the waters that had been held in the heavens. The water crashed to the earth for 40 straight days. Noah had to be deeply grateful to have been selected to be spared from and delivered to the other side of this flood.
I can imagine that Noah had to be anxious to see what life would look like post-flood. After 40 days, the flood waters finally stopped, and the entire creation was flooded. With every living being destroyed, the floating future of the entire earth was shut up in that ark, waiting to see what God would do. And for the next 150 days, the flood continued to cover the earth until, the text says, “God remembered Noah.”
God let the waters slowly recede, until eventually—after much waiting and wondering, prayer and petition—Noah and his family were able to come out of that ark and worship the Lord.
Are you in a time of waiting? A time of uncertainty and anxiety? Be comforted by the fact that God remembers you. You are not alone in this period of difficulty. You are not forgotten by the Lord. The very capsule that you feel so confined by may actually be buoying you up and bringing you to the place that you need to be in your life in order to begin a new season.
So do not despair. Your waiting will not be for always. God remembers you.
Beautiful Despite the Mistakes
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
It is said that in making Persian rugs, the artist stands before the rug while a group of boys stands behind to pull the threads after the artist starts. If one of the boys makes a mistake, the artist adjusts the pattern accordingly so that when the rug is finished, nobody can tell where the mistake was.
This is what I want you to live convicted about: nothing about God's love for you or the way He relates to you will ever change. God knows that you make a lot of mistakes. But aren't you glad He does His artist's work to make your life beautiful despite those mistakes?
No mistake you make could ever make Him change His divine intent. His interaction with you will never become corrupted because you bring to Him a corrupted mind or a corrupted spirit. Whenever you bring twisted language to Him, He still responds with the enormity of His love, because you are valuable to Him.
I'm so glad that God puts up with all my personalities. He puts up with all my attitudes. He puts up with all my complaints. He puts up with all my idiosyncratic ways. He puts up with all my emotional and tumultuous mood changing. No matter how I ascend that mountain, no matter how I begin my prayers, as soon as I’ve pushed my way into His presence, He receives me just like on any other day. Why? Because His word for my life is invariable.
God can take the most awful of your experiences and put spiritual significance on it until it works out for your good. You are so valuable to Him that one of your prayers can bring all of Heaven to bear on your circumstances. Your value to Jesus is invariable, incorruptible, and inestimable.