A variation on Murphy’s Law states that the length of time you have to wait in the doctor’s office is directly proportional to the boringness of the magazines there. That’s what most of us think when we think about waiting. But in the Bible waiting on, or for, the Lord means something very different.
Many times in the Bible we are commanded to wait for the Lord. “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). And many times we are told of the benefits of doing so.
“Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:31 NASB)
What are we waiting for when we wait on the Lord? Answering that needs some context. The Christian life is sustained by the grace of God, “…it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13 NIV). It’s God who gives us both the desire and the power to live as we ought. Defining it in practical terms, grace is the desire and power for Christian living.
Waiting on the Lord means we are looking to Him for grace—the desire and power needed in a situation. For example, sometimes we know the thing to do, but don’t want or desire it. We need to wait on the Lord to supply even the desire to do the right thing. We may know we need to forgive someone but we don’t want to. We need to wait on the Lord for the desire and the power and strength to forgive. In other situations, we may need grace in the form of wisdom needed for a decision or in the form of the desire and power to love the unlovely.
Here are three aspects to waiting for the Lord for the grace to live as Christians.
Waiting on the Lord begins with an attitude of dependence on Him, which is rooted in knowing who God is and what He is capable of and in knowing we are weak and powerless.
“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” (Isaiah 40:28–29)
Waiting on the Lord begins with a humble mindset that recognizes the need to look away from my own inadequacy to His sufficiency. It is important because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
The second aspect of waiting on the Lord is confident trust in Him with the expectation and hope of a positive result. It is anticipating that He will provide the desire and power we need because He is loving, gracious, and faithful. Anticipation is when we put our mind in gear, looking to Him for a change in circumstances, or deliverance from a difficulty, or healing for an infirmity. We are anticipating grace for the situation.
This is the third aspect of waiting and involves two kinds of action.
The first kind of action is the daily use of the means of grace God has given us. We need to be spending time in the Word, studying, seeking answers, and claiming promises. We need to pray about our situations asking Him for wisdom and discernment (Matthew 7:7). And we need to reflect on who God is and what He wants to do in and through us. We need to do this daily—even moment by moment—and we need to be purposeful and intentional about it. We always need the desire and power to live the Christian life.
The second kind of action is acting in reliance on the grace God provides. Some might think that if we are to wait on the Lord for grace, we then just keep on waiting passively as if waiting for some divine download of desire and power.
Instead, we are to wait on the Lord and then act in faith believing that God will give that which we need. For example, we want to share our faith with someone but we are fearful. Wait on the Lord for His grace in the form of courage to share our faith and then, believing God will give the grace as it is needed, we open our mouth and speak.
Purpose to daily wait on the Lord and enjoy the unimaginable blessings God has in store. “For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him!” (Isaiah 64:4).