The Crucible of Waiting Upon God

In the mundane routine that makes up most of our days, we spend a lot of time fieryhandswaiting. Waiting for the red light to turn green, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in line to pick up lunch, waiting for the kids to get ready, waiting for the weekend to come. In our busyness, it seems we are relentlessly made to wait. I don’t know about you, but most days I don’t particularly like waiting. Perhaps this is the reason it seems God has had me in an extended period of waiting on Him.

What does it mean to wait upon God? The Bible has a lot to say on this subject. One familiar verse is Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  We are told to wait for Him always: “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” (Hos. 12:6)

There are several saints in the Scriptures who also found themselves waiting on God – sometimes for many years. God visits Abraham, giving him a promise that he and Sarah would have a son in their old age. In the process of waiting, Sarah gets impatient and decides to do it her way, causing problems that we are still dealing with today. Joseph receives a promise through two prophetic dreams and then goes through a long season of waiting on God. After many years and trials, he finally receives the promise of God when he is reunited with his family and promoted to second in command of all of Egypt.

God’s idea of waiting upon Him is not passively sitting around until He decides to move. If you look up the different words that are translated “wait,” the literal meaning of one is, “to look for; to hope; to expect; to look eagerly for.” Another word used literally means, “to wait longingly; to travail; to writhe (in travail for); to wait anxiously, to be distressed; to be pained.” Not exactly a picture of passivity!

Waiting upon God is painful and often distressing. I believe it is the greatest crucible we must endure in our journey of faith. Waiting burns up our flesh, because by nature, we are impatient creatures. God uses seasons of waiting to develop our character. He used Moses’ forty years of tending sheep to humble him. Waiting causes us to realize our great need of, and dependency upon God. Waiting caused Abraham and Sarah to understand that His ways are far higher, and better, than ours.

During seasons of waiting, God wants us to continue to hope. Biblical hope is confident expectation – not wishful thinking. He wants us to continually look for, and expect His promises to be fulfilled. Waiting requires trust, which is faith that He will do what He said He would do. Sometimes in the waiting, He will call us to travail with Him in prayer. In Scripture, this type of prayer is depicted as a woman in labor to bring forth a child. At these times, we must labor in the place of prayer, receiving the burden of His heart and “birthing” it through the Spirit. Paul spoke of this in Galatians 4:19, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” He often labored in prayer to see God have His way in His people.

Waiting is often painful, but it’s a necessary part of our journey to become like Jesus. He is the picture of perfect submission, patience, humility, obedience, and all those wonderful characteristics that we really long for in our own lives. May He teach us all how to wait upon Him!

4 Steps to Biblical Faith

Charlene S Hughes

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the necessity of having patience in order to inherit faithGod’s promises. If you didn’t see that, you can read it here. The other ingredient we must have is faith. Faith, like love, is a word that is used so much we seem to have lost the significance of its meaning. For the past several years, I have been wrestling with the concept of faith. Here are a few nuggets I’ve come across so far; I hope you find them helpful as well.

From what I’ve observed in many churches and in the majority of Christians I’ve ministered to for many years, it seems faith has been reduced to a mental agreement with certain beliefs. This is in stark contrast to what is depicted in Scripture. What preceded belief in the saints was a firm conviction. This conviction was birthed through revelation…

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The Faith of Abraham

“…Abraham is our father in God’s sight because he trusted God as the one Abrahams faithwho gives life to the dead and calls nonexistent things into existence. For he was past hope, yet in hope he trusted that he would indeed become a father to many nations, in keeping with what he had been told, “So many will your seed be.” His trust did not waver when he considered his own body–which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old–or when he considered that Sarah’s womb was dead too. He did not by lack of trust decide against God’s promises. On the contrary, by trust he was given power as he gave glory to God, for he was fully convinced that what God had promised He could also accomplish.” – Romans 4:17-21

If God sees and considers Abraham as my father, then it seems He would expect me to be like him. A child usually takes on the characteristics of their parents; therefore, it seems God would want me to have the same trust in Him as Abraham did. Since Abraham believed God gives life to the dead–which was his body–and calls nonexistent things into existence–which would have been his seed–then I need to believe the same things. I know He gives life to the dead because He raised Jesus from the dead. He calls nonexistent things into existence because His Word has creative power. He spoke the universe and all creation into being.

But how did Abraham know God gives life to the dead? Had he actually seen or experienced that when he decided to believe Him? How did he know He calls nonexistent things into existence? The Scriptures had not yet been written. In reading over his story in Genesis 15, we can see that he had some powerful encounters with God. Obviously, he believed God because of his relationship with Him. He had come to know and trust Him. However, he was still human. Later, he made the mistake of sleeping with Hagar, so even in trusting God, he didn’t fully understand His ways. I take comfort in knowing that God redeemed Abraham’s mistake as he was trusting Him to the best of his ability and understanding. So surely He will redeem my mistakes, because I trust Him and want to obey Him in all I say and do.

Though Abraham was past having any hope in the natural of his promise coming to pass, yet he chose to trust with hope that indeed it would. Hope and trust are choices we have to make regardless of our circumstances. In fact, if our circumstances seem favorable to our promises coming to pass, it doesn’t require us to have hope and trust. Perhaps we would trust in our circumstances rather than in God. We are called to walk in faith. To walk by faith and not by sight is something we must choose to do, for it goes against our natural tendencies.

Abraham did not deny the fact that because of their age and the condition of their bodies it was impossible, in the natural, to have a child. He took that fact fully into account. Yet his trust did not waver because of the facts. I love it though, that in this passage, God never mentions that Abraham did try to help Him out, and in the process created Ishmael. It is as though God totally forgot or chose to overlook that. God knows the heart, so I believe Abraham must have thought he was doing the right thing when he did that. Still, God credits Abraham as righteous in His sight. He is amazing!

Abraham could have looked at the reality of his situation and decided it was too difficult for God to make good on His promise, but he didn’t. As he chose to trust God in spite of the facts, and worshiped God in the midst of what looked like an impossible situation, God empowered him to believe and stand firm in his faith. When we do likewise, He will do the same for us! God cannot lie, so He will eventually make good on His promises. The question we often struggle with is, when?  Abraham waited about 25 years for his promise to be fulfilled. Obviously, God requires not only faith in Him and His Word, but also patience!

The Crucible of Waiting Upon God

In the mundane routine that makes up most of our days, we spend a lot of time fieryhandswaiting. Waiting for the red light to turn green, waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in line to pick up lunch, waiting for the kids to get ready, waiting for the weekend to come. In our busyness, it seems we are relentlessly made to wait. I don’t know about you, but most days I don’t particularly like waiting. Perhaps this is the reason it seems God has had me in an extended period of waiting on Him.

What does it mean to wait upon God? The Bible has a lot to say on this subject. One familiar verse is Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  We are told to wait for Him always: “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” (Hos. 12:6)

There are several saints in the Scriptures who also found themselves waiting on God – sometimes for many years. God visits Abraham, giving him a promise that he and Sarah would have a son in their old age. In the process of waiting, Sarah gets impatient and decides to do it her way, causing problems that we are still dealing with today. Joseph receives a promise through two prophetic dreams and then goes through a long season of waiting on God. After many years and trials, he finally receives the promise of God when he is reunited with his family and promoted to second in command of all of Egypt.

God’s idea of waiting upon Him is not passively sitting around until He decides to move. If you look up the different words that are translated “wait,” the literal meaning of one is, “to look for; to hope; to expect; to look eagerly for.” Another word used literally means, “to wait longingly; to travail; to writhe (in travail for); to wait anxiously, to be distressed; to be pained.” Not exactly a picture of passivity!

Waiting upon God is painful and often distressing. I believe it is the greatest crucible we must endure in our journey of faith. Waiting burns up our flesh, because by nature, we are impatient creatures. God uses seasons of waiting to develop our character. He used Moses’ forty years of tending sheep to humble him. Waiting causes us to realize our great need of, and dependency upon God. Waiting caused Abraham and Sarah to understand that His ways are far higher, and better, than ours.

During seasons of waiting, God wants us to continue to hope. Biblical hope is confident expectation – not wishful thinking. He wants us to continually look for, and expect His promises to be fulfilled. Waiting requires trust, which is faith that He will do what He said He would do. Sometimes in the waiting, He will call us to travail with Him in prayer. In Scripture, this type of prayer is depicted as a woman in labor to bring forth a child. At these times, we must labor in the place of prayer, receiving the burden of His heart and “birthing” it through the Spirit. Paul spoke of this in Galatians 4:19, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” He often labored in prayer to see God have His way in His people.

Waiting is often painful, but it’s a necessary part of our journey to become like Jesus. He is the picture of perfect submission, patience, humility, obedience, and all those wonderful characteristics that we really long for in our own lives. May He teach us all how to wait upon Him!

The Dreaded “P” Word

…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  Heb. 6:12

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read or hear the word patience? For patienceme, it is often a sense of dread. It is a subject God has been dealing with me on for a long, long time. Some days it seems I’ve got it down. Other days, I feel like I’m back in kindergarten. Many believers I’ve talked to feel the same way. We all know it’s something we should have. It is a fruit of the Spirit, after all! Yet in our fast-food, instant information, immediate gratification culture, most would agree they really don’t. At least not like we know we should.

In Hebrews 6:12, the writer says that it is through faith and patience that we inherit God’s promises. We’ve probably heard more messages on the importance of faith than we could possibly remember. But when is the last time you heard someone teach on the necessity of patience?  As much as we may dislike or avoid the topic, God’s Word is full of examples. Almost every saint mentioned had to go through a prolonged time of waiting for God to fulfill His promises. Abraham and Sarah waited about twenty-five years for their promised son, Isaac. Joseph waited many years for the fulfillment of his prophetic dreams. David, anointed as king of Israel at a young age, waited years before receiving his crown. These and others are recorded for our benefit, to teach us that God is never in a hurry to fulfill His promises – yet He is always faithful.

He is endlessly patient and committed to cultivating His image in each of His children. When I struggle to be patient, I try to remember how long He has waited to fulfill His own desires. He has longed since eternity past for a family, and a bride that is wholehearted and mature in love. We can’t even comprehend how long that is! So how do we grow in patience? James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (1:2-4) Perseverance is another word for patience, or patient endurance. If you’ve ever prayed for patience and it suddenly seems like all hell breaks loose around you, this is why!

Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  Patience develops when we respond properly to our trials and sufferings. It produces mature character in us. On the other hand, impatience is really a lack of faith; it is unbelief. Impatience says that God cannot be trusted to follow through on His promises. It doubts His faithfulness and questions His integrity. In essence, it is calling God a liar… Ouch.  This is why it requires both faith and patience to inherit His promises; the two cannot be separated.

Trials and tribulations are never fun or easy, but if we want to grow in patience we must see them as opportunities instead of problems. By Gods’ grace, we can rejoice and respond with trust that He is working everything together for good in our lives, to bring us to maturity in the image of His Son. Though the fiery furnace is painful, He promises to be with us in it. He walks beside us through the dark valleys and will one day wipe away every tear when pain is removed forever.

How is God working to produce patience in you?