Waiting On God . . . Hoping for what we do not see
Psalm 37:7

Bruce Grice

June 16,2002


I. How do you feel about waiting?

A. Do you enjoy a nice, long wait?
1. Imagine standing in a long line at the bank or the post office.
2. Picture yourself at a stop light sitting behind an accelerator-challenged driver when the light turns green.
3.Imagine pulling into a gas station and all the pumps are occupied, so you have to wait for somebody to drive away.

B. How good are you at waiting?
1. Imagine youíre sitting in the waiting room of your doctorís office for an hour.
How do you respond? A. Youíre grateful for the chance to catch up on the 1997 Readerís Digest.
B. You tell the other patients you have a contagious disease in an attempt to empty the waiting room.
C. Or if you have a little more flair for the dramatic, you force yourself to hyperventilate to get immediate attention.

II.Now, these are fairly casual kinds of waiting, but we put up with them. However, there are other, more serious & difficult kinds of waiting:

A. Thereís the waiting of a single person to see if God has marriage in store for him or her.
B. Thereís the waiting of someone who longs to have work thatís meaningful & significant, but it doesnít happen.
C. Thereís the waiting of a spouse thatís trapped in a hurting marriage that seems unable to change.

Lewis Smedes puts it like this:
Waiting is our destiny. As creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for, we wait in the darkness for a flame we cannot light. We wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write. We wait for a ďnot yetĒ that feels like a ďnot ever.Ē

D. Waiting is the hardest work of hope.

I. When we turn to the Bible, God Himself assures us to wait: Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:7 Wait for the Lord, the Psalmist goes on, keep to His way & He will exalt you to inherit the land. (OPEN IN YOUR BIBLES TO GENESIS 12) Letís read the first 4 verses: The Lord said to Abram, ďLeave your country, your people and your fatherís household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.Ē So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he set out for Haran.
A. ďAbram, youíre going to become a father. Youíll be the ancestor of a great nation,Ē God says.
1. But it wonít happen today, it wonít happen tomorrow.
2. How long was it before that promise came true? 24 years
3. Think about being 75 years old and being told youíre about to become a parent . . . and then waiting 24 years.
4. Thatís how long Abraham had to wait.
B. God told Israel, His people, that they would be a nation, able to leave the slavery of Egypt. How long did they have to wait? 400 years (Genesis 15:13).
C. God told Moses (Numbers 14) that he would lead the people to the Promised Land, but they had to go to the wilderness & wait 40 years
. Then came the great promise that the Messiah, the Redeemer from God would appear. Godís people waited. 1. Generation after generation, century after century.
2. When the Messiah arrived, He wasnít recognized by everyone: Yet, the 2nd chapter of Luke tells us about two people who recognized the Messiah because they were waiting on God (Turn to Luke 2). *The first is a man named Simeon. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout . . . Looking forward to (waiting for) the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25) Verse 27 & following reads . . . And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for Him what was customary under the law, Simeon took Him into his arms and praised God, saying, ďMaster, you may dismiss your servant in peace.Ē Iíve been waiting my whole life; now my waitís over. *The second is woman named Anna (Luke 2:36) . . . For years this amazing woman never left the temple, but worshiped there with fasting & prayer night & day: And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him to all who were looking forward to (waiting for) the redemption of Israel. (2:38)
A. While Jesus walked upon the earth, others kept waiting for Him to bring in the Kingdom the way they expected . . . to right all wrongs. Instead, Jesus is crucified, and 3 days later God raised Him up.
1. 43 times in the Old Testament the people are commanded: Wait on the Lord.
2. This runs all the way through to the very last words in the Bible. Revelation 22 closes with these words from John:

The One who testifies to these things says, ďBehold, I am coming soon.Ē (Revelation 22:12)
3. In light of eternity, it is soon. Hang in there!
4. Paul writes in Romans 8:23-25 . . .
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
B.Question: Why does God make us wait?
1. To give each person opportunity to repent? Certainly: The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2nd Peter 3:8
2. Thereís another reason . . . What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is weíre waiting for.
C. Paul says while weíre waiting for God to set everything right:
. . . Let us rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. (Romans 5:3, 4)
1. God is producing these qualities in us while we wait.
2. Waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want.
A. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.
1. Waiting on God is a confident, disciplined, expectant, active, sometimes painful holding on to God.
2. It is a daily decision that says:
God, I will trust you and I will obey you even though the circumstances of my life are not turning out the way I want them to, and they may never turn out the way I want them to. Yet, Iím holding on to you, God, and Iím not turning back.
3.Thatís waiting on the Lord. Itís the hardest work of hoping.
4. What do we need to have in order to wait on the Lord?

PATIENT TRUST
B. Will you trust that God has good reasons for saying ďwaitĒ?
1.You may not know what they are. But will you trust that God knows what He is doing.
2. Godís perspective differs from ours because He views things from eternity:
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day. (2 Peter 3:8)
3. God has a different viewpoint.
4. Often we want Godís resources, but we donít want His timing. We want His hand, but we donít want His calendar.
5. We forget His work in us while we wait (Romans 5:3-4), which is as important as what it is weíre waiting for.
C. Waiting on God simply means, ďI will trust patiently in Him.Ē Certain that He knows what He is doing.
1. Maybe youíre single.
2.We live in a society where often the assumption is that marriage is normal & singleness is not. You feel the pain of that stigma.
3. You feel a legitimate longing for intimacy.

A. Waiting is difficult.
1. Maybe thereís a relationship at your fingertips that promises to take that loneliness away.
2. But you know that relationship is not honoring to God.
3. You know in your heart this is not the right person. Perhaps this person doesnít share your commitment to God.
4. Yet because of the pain, youíre tempted to think:
Iíve been waiting long enough. Iím going to reach out for whatever satisfaction I can get in this life & worry about the consequences later.
B. If youíre in that situation, will you courageously say:
God, I will take You at Your word. I will not get involved in a relationship that I know would dishonor you & bring damage to the souls of those involved. I will seek to build the best life I can right here where I am. I donít know what tomorrow holds, but You do. So, Iíll trust you. I will wait.
C. Many have difficulty taking God at His word.
1. Itís easy to rationalize:
*God didnít really mean that lying was sinful . . . just big lies. *Purity does not mean that my dating life has to be completely moral. *When it comes to loving your neighbor as you love yourself . . . that sounds good, but you donít know my neighbor.
2. Waiting on God again simply means I patiently trust Him . . .
3. You stake your life on the promise that God will never lie to you.
4. Your hope is anchored in what you cannot see with your eyes, but you can with your heart.
D. So you leap into His hands.
1. Refusing to keep one foot planted in the world while trying to sing: Anywhere with Jesus I will safely go. 2. Waiting on the Lord means I will patiently trust Him . . . Willing to do the absurd in manís eyes: (loving the unlovely, friend to the friendless, etc.) Like Naamanís dunking in a dirty river (2 Kings 5) Or, Moses walking into a sea expecting it to part (Exodus 14) Like Abraham buying maternity clothes for his 90 year old wife (Genesis 17)
A. In his book Sabbatical Journeys, Henri Nouwen writes about friends who were trapeze artists with the circus. Thereís a very special relationship between the flyer and the catcher on the trapeze. The flyer is the one who lets go, and the catcher is the one who catches.
1. As you might imagine, this relationship is importantó especially to the flyer.
2. When the flyer is swinging high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when he must let go.
3. He arcs out into the air, and his job is to remain as still as possible & to wait for the strong hands of the catcher to snatch him from the air.
4. The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. The flyer must wait in absolute trust. The catcher will catch him. But he must wait.

B. Waiting on the Lord requires absolute, patient trust. (Turn to Isaiah 32:17) A second requirement for waiting on God is . . .

CONFIDENT HUMILITY

And the fruit of righteousness will be peace, And the result of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:17)
C. The result of righteousness, the prophet says, will be two character qualities:
*Confidenceóthe conviction that God is able; a fearless orientation towards the future.
*Along with confidence is quietness, the opposite of arrogance & boasting. Itís the humble recognition of my limits.
1. Waiting is something by its nature that only the humble can do.
2. To wait for something is to recognize I am not in control. Iím not calling the shots; the timing is not up to me.
3. Waiting reminds me Iím not in charge. Iím the creature . . . God is the Creator.
But weíre not just waiting around. Weíre waiting on God. And God is doing something in us.
B. As a result, we patiently trust His wisdom & His timing. We wait in confident humility.
1. Prayer allows us to wait without worry . . . even when weíre troubled with ďwhat-ifĒ kinds of thoughts:
What if I donít get exactly what I think I so desperately need?
What if some things donít turn out the way I desperately want them to?

A. In Mark 4, in the middle of a storm, Jesusí disciples panic.
1. Remember what Jesus is doing in the boat? Heís sleeping. The disciples wake Him up, & He calms the storm.
2. God doesnít panic . . . Heís never frantic . . . Heís never in a hurry.
B. Is there a voice you recognize . . . a voice you trust?
1. You are at a crowded ball park . . . Mom & Dad holler your name across the park . . . You recognize that voice & come running.
2. Why? Trust.
My sheep know My voice. (John 10)
3. We recognize the Shepherdís voice who cares for His sheep.
4. We hear it through the Bible.
5. We wait with patient trust . . . confident humility . . . because Godís leading us.
A 3rd requirement for waiting on God is seen in Isaiah 40:30, 31 . . .
INEXTINGUISHABLE HOPE

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)
C. There are times in your life when you will mount up, or soar, on wings like eagles. Itís a magnificent picture:
1. Birds have basically 3 methods of flight:
*FlappingóBirds just keep their wings in constant motion to counteract gravity . . . Hummingbirds can do this up to 70-100 times a second; flapping keeps you up in the air, but it takes a lot of work.
*GlidingóWhen a bird builds up enough speed it can coast for awhile; itís pretty smooth, but because of gravity gliding doesnít last for long.
*Third form of flight . . . Soaringó only a few birds are capable of it.
An eagle can soar. An eagleís wings are so strong that it is capable of catching rising currents of warm air going straight up from the earth where itís heated.
2. Without moving a feather, in great majesty, an eagle can soar to tremendous heights; they have been clocked at up to 80 miles an hour; soaring on invisible columns of rising air. A magnificent picture.
A. Isaiah says that times will come when you soar.
1. Some of you are soaring spiritually tonight . . .
2. You find yourself borne up by Godís power . . .
B. Some are not soaring spiritually, but you:
Run and not grow weary
1. With determination, youíre running the race.
2. You keep on running, because when you run, you grow strong.
C. Some are not soaring, some cannot even run. Because of pain, fatigue, or crisis, all they can do is: Walk and not faint.
1. God, I will hang on. I donít seem too productive. I donít feel triumphant. Iíve been hurt. Iím wounded. Iíve suffered loss. But God, I wonít let go. I will obey You, and, Iíll keep walking.
2. Jesus knew about days when you soar . . .
Mt. of Transfiguration (Matthew 17); Triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21); Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11).
D. But, there were days when Jesus faced serious obstacles, yet He kept running:
Weeping over the defiance of Jerusalem ( Matthew 23) Facing the opposition of religious leaders (Matthew 23)
1. Yet, Jesus kept running.
2. He didnít turn aside from the course.
E. But then one day, it came time to carry the cross to Golgotha. The cross was placed upon His bruised and bleeding back; and as He took upon Himself the sins of the world, His knees buckled.
1. But, He got up, and He kept walking.
2. Sometimes walking is all you can do.
3. Maybe when life is hardest, when you want to quit, you say to God:
No matter what. Iíll keep putting one foot in front of the other one, and Iíll take up the cross and I will follow You.

A. What happens to us while we wait is important, just as what we wait for is important:
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us . . . (Romans 5:3-5)

1. The One we wait for will be worth the wait.
2. As His Spiritual Family, we wait for God with:
Patient Trust Confident Humility Inextinguishable Hope

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
They will soar on wings like eagles,
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-31

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INVITATION

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