In our Western culture, no one wants to wait. Microwave dinners, immediate responses to text messages, and posting pictures of your vacation online while you’re still on vacation are three examples. Our smart phones have not helped our attention spans, and they have not helped us to become more patient.
Sometimes life circumstances force us to wait. You may have to wait to hear whether or not you get the job. You may have to wait for the results of the medical tests. You may have to wait for the Lord to answer a prayer. You may have to wait for the broken relationship to be healed.
What do you do while you are waiting? Too many people think that waiting means doing nothing. But that is not the biblical idea of waiting. Waiting in the Bible is active waiting. Let me explain.
The Hebrew word qava is the word translated “wait” in Isaiah 26:8. It is a word used almost fifty times in the Old Testament. It is a word that means “to collect, to bind together by twisting, to gather together.” This word carries the idea of two people in the ancient world who have arranged to meet at a certain spot to go on a journey. One of them arrives before the other, and while he is waiting for his friend to arrive, he is collecting nearby items (food and other supplies) that might assist them on their journey.
In our modern world, it is the picture of a young lady waiting for her date to arrive to take her to the dance. Could you imagine if she did absolutely nothing to prepare for the date?! Her hair would be a mess, she would be wearing no makeup, and she would be dressed in sloppy clothes. Instead she is actively waiting, preparing herself for her date to arrive. And when he arrives, he is delighted to see her looking so beautiful.
Isaiah explains how we are to wait upon the Lord. Read it in the two translations below.
Isaiah 26:8 (CSB)
8 Yes, LORD, we wait for you in the path of your judgments. Our desire is for your name and renown.
Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)
8 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
Isaiah lived in a day when God’s judgment was being poured out on the nation of Israel because they had turned away from God’s principles for living. They had sought other gods. Their hearts had grown cold toward the true and living God.
Yet despite that, Isaiah was determined to wait for God’s deliverance. He trusted in the Lord. He looked forward to all that God was going to do in the future. He knew that God’s will would prevail and that God could be trusted.
We see in Isaiah 26:8 that we should:
- wait on the Lord
- walk in the way of God’s laws
- want God to be famous
The waiting we do is not passive. As we wait, we pray and read God’s Word, we serve the Lord and gather with God’s people for worship. As we wait, we seek to live holy lives with our thoughts, our words and our actions, always in line with God’s Word (aka, his laws). We know that God is working in us, developing patience and perseverance and teaching us many things.
And as we wait, we realize that we want God to be famous! We seek his name and renown, not our own. In the waiting, we realize it is not about us but it is about him. In the waiting, we seek him and his glory stronger than ever before. In the waiting, we realize that he is the king and we are his servants, and our desire is to honor King Jesus and make him famous.
So if the medical tests come back positive or negative, we know we’ll ultimately be fine because we are walking with the Lord and we will give him the glory for all things. If we get the job or not, we will give praise to God and continue to seek him and his direction. As we are waiting for the relationship to be healed, we will give honor to God, stay close to him, and seek to be a blessing to everyone.
Wait on the Lord. Walk in the ways of the Lord. Want God to be famous.
That’s what waiting looks like for a child of God.